By: Samuel Smith, Columnist
Every evening, after dinner, I take a few different medications. Among them is metformin – three pills that are bitter, with no coating. Metformin is a medication that is known for treating type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, but I’m not diabetic. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS for short. Polycystic ovarian syndrome affects my insulin levels, but it also affects so much more. It affects my mental health, my weight, and my ability to be active. And I’m not the only one with this disorder.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome affects anywhere from one in ten to two in ten people. For a chronic condition, that is a lot of people. Did I mention there’s absolutely no cure? So what does PCOS entail in terms of mental health?
People with polycystic ovarian syndrome are at a much higher risk for anxiety and depression. Between the chronic pain, the irregular or absent cycle, the male-pattern hair, and the long-term side effects, it’s no wonder people with PCOS are at a greater risk for mental health issues. I personally suffer from anxiety disorder, and a large part of it is due to the PCOS. I’m in pain all the time because of the illness, and the hormones can cause my anxiety to shoot through the roof. For years, I wasn’t sure what was causing unexplained panic attacks. Then, I found out I have PCOS, and realized the hormonal issues and chronic pain were causing my anxiety to skyrocket.
So what are the options for those of us with polycystic ovarian syndrome? First of all, make sure you’re staying in touch with your endocrinologist or obstetrician/gynecologist, as your hormone levels can and will effect your mental and physical health. Also, see a therapist. Living with chronic pain is hard. Living with mental health issues is just as difficult. Having a therapist who you can bounce your pain off of is so, so important with any chronic condition, and not just PCOS. You can also register with Disability Support Services, who will guide you on what accommodations may be appropriate.
Take care of yourself too. Self care is absolutely vital in combating mental health issues. Run a relaxing bath. Drink some water or tea. Take a nap. Read a good book that isn’t for class. Take care of yourself. Your body, spirit, and mind will thank you.
If you don’t have PCOS, talk about it with those you meet. Fight for awareness and acceptance for those with PCOS. You most likely know someone with PCOS, and we appreciate those who advocate. If you know someone who’s open about their struggle with the disorder, thank them. It’s difficult to be open about living with any chronic condition, and PCOS is no different.