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While it was known that there was a familial link between mothers and daughters with PCOS, the study showed rather than PCOS being a genetic disorder, it was instead due to an imbalance of hormones before birth...

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS in short, is a painful disorder that affects millions of women around the world. It’s not really surprising that it has been linked to emotional and mental health issues, but until now, researchers weren’t really sure why that was. To understand the correlation, researchers had to delve deeper into the hormones responsible for causing PCOS.

What Is PCOS?

PCOS is a syndrome caused by an imbalance of hormones, and it results in multiple cysts to form on the ovaries. Generally people used to think that PCOS was a disorder of the reproductive system, but although it does affect the reproductive organs and issues with fertility, it also has many other symptoms associated with the disease that affect other parts of the body.

Incidence of Mental Illness in PCOS

Studies have shown that up to 60% of women with PCOS also suffer from some form of mental illness. Often, because of the physical symptoms and nature of PCOS, the mental illness is overlooked, and is generally considered to be caused by coping with the PCOS. But with so many women affected, it is important to try and identify whether or not there is a more specific cause for anxiety and depression in women with PCOS and how it can be prevented.

Depressive Illness

A study undertaken into PCOS found that there was a higher risk of developing depression in comparison to women who do not have PCOS. The study looked closely at the metabolic traits of these women to try and determine why the risk of depression and mental illness is higher.

A similar study conducted by Monash University in Australia also showed that anxiety and depression were higher in women with PCOS. There are a variety of forms of depressive illness, and although there is a link between PCOS and depression, the severity of the depression varies. Some women suffer from dysthymia, which is not as severe as other forms of depression, but is a more chronic form.

Recent Research

An investigative research study was conducted by Dr. Elisabet Stener-Victorin, who is based at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. While it was known that there was a familial link between mothers and daughters with PCOS, the study showed rather than PCOS being a genetic disorder, it was instead due to an imbalance of hormones before birth that have an effect on the developing baby’s brain.

Clinical research was done using laboratory mice to fully evaluate how the hormone imbalance affects the fetus, and what hormones are at fault. What they have found, is that when there are high levels of testosterone in the placenta, the mice were likely to show signs of anxiety when they become adults. Both male and female mice were affected, with females developing PCOS and the males more likely to develop obesity and diabetes.

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