PCOS and Your Emotions
The Power of Hormones
Hormones make the world go around, seriously. They are the reasons we feel the urges to do most of the things we do, from eating to procreating. Hormones also have a large impact on how we feel emotionally. They can make you crazy. Remember the woman who killed a man and blamed it on PMS? Maybe she had PCOS! Unfortunately, it can wreak havoc on your hormones,
Normally, the hormones needed for your monthly cycle should fluctuate in a well balanced cycle. If you have PCOS, this balance is thrown off and you may experience a high steady level of estrogen along with some others. Estrogen is what brings about many of the premenstrual symptoms that you experience. So rather than enduring a quick spike of estrogen and PMS, you may have PMS all month long. Crazy, huh? Take a look below and discover how PCOS may be affecting your emotions.
Your Personal PCOS
Estrogen and Your Emotional State
Our emotions are constantly changing depending on inner and outer influences. Although we often attribute them to daily situations or interactions, that is not always the case. Our personal histories or baggage can often change the way we react to a situation. Hormones can do the same thing. Have you ever noticed that you feel different when you are premenstrual (PMS)? Women often note that they are irritable, moody, depressed and more likely to cry during this phase. During this time, you may have more trouble dealing with typical life issues. This is due to estrogen, the hormone that is responsible for PMS and is a major player in the hormones that regulate your period. PMS can be so severe for some women that they take anti-depressant medications to help with the symptoms.
In a woman with balanced sex hormones, her period is regulated like a fine symphony where the hormone levels rise and fall accordingly to bring about ovulation. In a woman with unbalanced hormones, her menstrual cycle has fallen prey to a heavy metal guitarist, with a constant level of hormonal noise in the background. Her hormones do not rise and fall as they should and often some of the hormones will remain chronically elevated. Needless to say, this can wreak havoc on the rest of her body. Estrogen is one of the hormones that remain elevated. Persistent estrogen stimulation can make a women feel constantly irritable and depressed, as though she is always premenstrual.
Insulin Can Change How You Feel
It is hard to believe, but a hormone that regulates glucose metabolism can change how you feel. Insulin is responsible for getting glucose out of the blood and into the cells so you have energy. Normally, the levels of glucose and insulin are just about even. In PCOS, however, there are much higher levels of insulin circulating in the blood, which is called hyperinsulinemia. This is necessary because the body does not recognize insulin the way it should and it takes much more insulin to get the job done.
Insulin also has the secondary job of telling you when you are hungry. In a well balanced system, whenever the level of insulin rises due to lack of available glucose, a person would feel hungry and eat, which would again balance out the glucose / insulin levels. In someone with chronically elevated insulin levels, this balance is out of whack as there is always more insulin than glucose. Unfortunately, this means you feel hungry a lot, if not all the time. Constant hunger is not a nice feeling and can lead to frustration, especially if you are trying to limit what you eat.
Insulin can also bring about a dramatic mood change. If your glucose level falls low enough, because you have not eaten in a long time, insulin can quickly cause you to become irritable and agitated. In a person without PCOS, this is a life saving measure. The glucose to insulin ratio can be so low that you are in danger of having a low blood sugar reaction. In a person with hyperinsulinemia, the balance of glucose to insulin is always low, but the body will react as though eating is an emergency. This will happen a lot more often if you have hyperinsulinemia and you do not eat regularly.
PCOS Can be Frustrating
Even before you were diagnosed with PCOS, you have been dealing with its effects. Often, your silent battle with PCOS has been going on for years before you were diagnosed. It can be overwhelming to feel as though something is wrong, but no one seems to be able to find anything to explain your symptoms. Then you learn years later that you have PCOS and that your provider should have known about it. That frustration and rage can be hard to swallow. It also can take away your trust in medical providers, especially when PCOS is known to increase your risk for so many things. This can easily lead to a sense of hopeless about your future health.
PCOS can also be very frustrating as it is a daily part of your life. Everyday, you may have to deal with excessive facial hair and acne. You may have to spend extra time that you do not have to deal with the cosmetic issues that go along with PCOS, such as making your hair look fuller or finding the right outfit to flatter your full figure. It is also a daily challenge to eat the right foods or get enough exercise. Both of these take time and energy, often more than you have to give considering the fast paced times we live in. On top of all this, you need to take time to see your provider regularly to help manage and monitor your PCOS.
Feelings of Failure and Low Self Esteem
In my opinion, one of the most disheartening aspects about PCOS can be the feelings of failure. It can be very difficult to manage PCOS, especially in the beginning. At first, it can be overwhelming having to learn about PCOS and then trying to incorporate all the changes into your life. Naturally, there will be several false starts. It took several years to develop PCOS and it will take more than a few months to fix it. Given our society of instant satisfaction, this can be frustrating and can make you feel like a failure when the weight does not just fall off or your skin does not glow in the first week. Now consider how bad you feel when you cheat and we ALL cheat at some time or another. Our fixation with perfection in our bodies and our actions can make it very hard to accept that "bad days" are normal. This can increase our feelings of failure and make it more likely that you have more cheating days!
Women with PCOS may also struggle more with self esteem. Combined with feelings of failure, low self esteem can be devastating and affect every aspect of your life. Women who feel this way may isolate themselves from family and friends, as well as romantic relationships. They may have difficulty in their careers because they do not believe in themselves or are afraid to bring attention to themselves. This lack of self esteem can also make it more likely that you feel hopeless about PCOS and feel powerless to improve your life and your health.
Unexpected Changes to Your Dreams
Depression related to your personal health situation can also be an issue. Many women are not diagnosed with PCOS until they already have some of the negative outcomes of untreated PCOS. This can include diabetes, cardiovascular disease or infertility. Receiving such a life altering diagnosis can take away lifelong dreams, especially since these conditions tend to occur at an earlier age in women with PCOS. Having diabetes or heart disease as a younger women can drastically change your plans for a long and healthy future that is filled with children, adventure and spontaneity. Now you have to plan your day and your life, rather than being carefree like most of your peers.
Dealing with infertility can also be devastating, to you, your relationships and your life. Many women with PCOS struggle with fertility issues and can spend a large portion of their fertile years trying to get pregnant. Participating in fertility treatments can take a large toll on your emotional health because it can be a vicious cycle of hope and disappointment. Dealing with the fact that you may never have children of your own can alter your self perspective to the point that feelings of failure and inadequacy are overwhelming.
There are a lot of ways that PCOS can affect how you feel. Fortunately, just as with the other symptoms of PCOS, many of the treatments can help. Do not hesitate to talk to your provider about how you are feeling. Asking for help is always better than waiting for someone to notice that you need it.
C., Kitzinger, and Willmott J. "Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome had excess hair, irregular or absent menstruation, and infertility and felt freakish, abnormal, and not proper women. (Qualitative). " Evidence-Based Nursing. 6.1 (Jan 2003): 30(1).