The NHS define anxiety as a “feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe”. Everyone experiences this in their lives to some extent but usually the emotion is fleeting. Having an exam or a job interview are good examples of when we are likely to feel anxious. These challenges are brief, after they are overcome it helps people to relax and become more at ease again.
But what if you are feeling anxious because you have been diagnosed with a long-term illness like PCOS?
Women with PCOS may have one or more of the following symptoms:
- PCOS Fertility Issues – Reduced female fertility, difficulty becoming pregnant
- Period Problems – Irregular periods or no periods / irregular ovulation or no ovulation
- Weight Issues – Weight problems, being overweight, rapid weight gain, difficulty losing weight
- Acne – Skin problems including oily skin, acne
- Unwanted Hair Growth – Unwanted facial or body hair (hirsutism) / thinning head-hair or hair loss (alopecia)
The fact that these symptoms show themselves physically can be a trigger for anxiety. From a fertility perspective, those that are trying to conceive are also more likely to have strong feelings of fear. Seeing your doctor, gynaecologist or using Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) such as IVF are all likely to evoke feelings of anxiety.
Women with PCOS who do become pregnant may also be anxious regarding potential pregnancy complications associated with PCOS, such as an increased risk of developing diabetes or high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia) during pregnancy.
An analysis of PCOS and mental disorders concluded that “Individuals with PCOS showed a greater prevalence of anxiety and depressive symptoms.” The study showed that women with PCOS were almost three times as likely to experience anxiety symptoms than those without PCOS. The correlation between suffering from PCOS and feeling anxious is evident. It is clear then suffering from PCOS day-to-day is a challenge not just for the body but also the mind.
If you have been diagnosed with PCOS just reading this article might be making you feel anxious – this is totally normal and to be expected. The key thing now is to find ways to help manage your anxiety. There are a number of changes you can make to your life to achieve this.
Self-care and PCOS
Practicing self-care can really help you build barriers to protect you against stresses of PCOS which keep you in a toxic state of anxiety. However, it can be difficult to find the right way for you. For many people this self-care might just be a relaxing spa day, or something very different. It is important to take a moment now and again and assess how you are caring for yourself. implementing a self-care routine can help you to manage any anxiety that comes alongside living with PCOS.
We have considered 5 different categories of self-care:
- Physical – In addition to exercise and fitness, are you eating the right things to help you manage your PCOS and taking the right supplements to help alleviate the symptoms? Are you attending appointments and health checks to keep your body fighting fit?
- Social – When life gets busy it’s easy to neglect your relationships with other people, it is important to check-in, allocate some protected time to spend quality time with loved ones. Sometimes it helps to confide in someone you trust about your PCOS struggles.
- Mental – Sometimes dealing with the symptoms of PCOS can make you want to shut your mind off, welcome distractions that engage your brain like puzzles, games, reading or watching a movie. However, you also need to face your demons too, having kinder and more compassionate thoughts about yourself will help you practice-self-love and improve your metal wellbeing.
- Spiritual – nurturing your sprit does not have to involve religion, taking a step back and appreciating nature or anything that gives you a deeper sense of being can help you practice spiritual self-care.
- Emotional – We can all feel negative emotions about our PCOS the emotional roller coaster the symptoms can bring may sometimes leave you not only anxious, but angry and sad. It is important to acknowledge those feeling and find ways to cope in a healthy way. This could be either talking to a loved one or doing something physical to help relieve the stress.
Finding ways to help give yourself the best chance of managing PCOS will in turn help to manage your anxiety. Here are a few suggestions on how you can manage you anxiety:
- Getting exercise
Exercise has been shown to help with anxiety. On top of this, it can help with alleviating PCOS symptoms too.
- Practicing meditation or Yoga
Both of these have been shown to help with anxiety. Breathing exercises and other techniques learnt from meditation and yoga can help support your over-all wellness.
- Counselling and Support groups
Verity is the leading PCOS charity in the UK and runs a number of support groups across the country. If this doesn’t appeal to you or the groups aren’t local to you, it cmay be helpful to consider having some counselling.
- Work-life balance
This one sounds easier than it often is. Finding time in your day-to-day life to ease off is hard with all the responsibilities at work and at home. You have to make a concerted effort to give yourself time to relax and you will feel the benefits. This is the time where you choose what to do and take time away from other responsibilities.
Taking active steps to make changes where you can in order to feel in more control can help alleviate your anxiety. Getting diagnosed with PCOS can feel like an end to your hopes of getting pregnant, but this just isn’t true. If you are worried about your fertile health look at the ways you can make improvements in your diet and lifestyle and always speak to a health care professional.
Tackling the issue instead of letting it spiral will help you to look after yourself. We recommend supplementing your diet with Inofolic Alpha, our unique formulation which has been shown to restore ovulation in 95% of women and manage the symptoms of PCOS, this may provide some much-needed relief from PCOS so you can be less anxious about your condition.