Understanding The Connection Between PCOS And Mental Health

As per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), polycystic ovary syndrome affects five million women. It impacts every one in five women globally and makes it difficult to conceive children. It often manifests through debilitating physical symptoms like weight gain, irregular period cycles, cysts in ovaries, excessive hair growth, acne flare-ups, and constant fatigue. 

But what about mental health-related symptoms?

The connection between PCOS and mental health has been an under-researched field and slowly started gaining traction in the past few years. Research by Claire Brutocao and team found that women dealing with PCOS are much more likely to have mental health issues. In fact, a whopping 40% of women with PCOS experience anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. 

The situation is so dire that the cost of treating mental health disorders associated with PCOS amounted to almost 6 billion dollars. The symptoms related to PCOS and mental health do not alleviate with age and are found to exist well beyond 40.

This is why it is important to understand the connection between PCOS and mental health to find timely and required professional help and support whenever required. 

On that note, let us dive deeper into the mental health conditions closely related to PCOS and explore their link.

PCOS and mental health

PCOS And Related Mental Health Conditions 

1. PCOS And Depression

Women with PCOS are more likely to experience depression. In fact, as per research by Anna L Damone and team, 27-50% of women with PCOS reported feeling depressed, against 19% without PCOS. 

While there still needs to be more research on the condition, here are some hypotheses associated with the increased prevalence of depression with PCOS:

  • Insulin resistance: 70% of women with PCOS are insulin-resistant, meaning their body does not accept glucose as they should. This leads to an increased amount of blood sugar. This has been associated with depression. However, the reasons are mostly unclear, with some experts suggesting that insulin resistance affects the production of certain hormones in the body, which can eventually lead to depression.
  • Stress: PCOS increases stress levels, particularly due to physical symptoms like excessive hair growth. This stress can lead to depression and anxiety in some women.

Read more: Why Do Women Have Emotional Breakdown During Period

2. PCOS And Anxiety

People with PCOS are three times more likely to deal with anxiety. There are different root causes behind the issue, including:

  • HPA Axis issue: HPA is the body’s communication axis involving the hypothalamus, adrenal glands, and pituitary gland. The primary job of the HPA axis involves managing stress through the regulation of cortisol (the stress hormone). HPA axis dysfunction is one of the most common causes of PCOS and is deemed adrenal PCOS. High stress resulting from this condition leads to anxiety.
  • Dysbiosis: An imbalance of gut bacteria or gut dysbiosis is one of the major causes of PCOS. It is predominantly also linked with the occurrence of anxiety. However, following a regular diet and making healthy lifestyle changes can reduce anxiety symptoms.

Read more: Female Hormones And Mental Health – What Are They?

3. PCOD And Eating Disorders

PCOD is related to higher weight gain, so those dealing with it are frequently advised to follow diet plans. Depression, anxiety, and physical symptoms like facial hair and acne can lead to a negative body image, increasing the urge to follow a diet. 

However, dieting has a severe risk of developing an eating disorder. People with PCOS use various weight-loss management strategies, frequently leading to insulin resistance and, eventually, the development of eating disorders. 


PCOS and mental health are deeply connected. It affects a person’s physical and psychological health. People with PCOS are more likely to have certain mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. 

Seeking professional help for these disorders is important. Access to professional care is now easier than ever with the advent of online therapy platforms. To learn more about it, click here.

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