PCOS and Depression: Why They Coexist and What to do?

Yes, PCOS can affect your mental health adversely. After all, its effects on your life can be debilitating. Let's understand the link between PCOS and depression.

There is no doubt that physical and mental health are closely connected. How you are dealing with one may determine how you fare with the other. And this relationship goes both ways. Those with chronic physical conditions are at a greater risk of developing mental health issues. Take PCOS and depression, for example. Let’s find out how they are connected.


What is Depression?

Depression, also called clinical depression or major depressive disorder, is a common but serious mood disorder that affects the way you feel, think, and act. It causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed. 


It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and reduce your ability to perform day-to-day activities.


Some individuals may have a relatively brief experience with depression while others may spend their lives dealing with recurrent episodes or ongoing issues with depression. 


Experts do not know what causes depression but believe that it results from a complex interaction of social, psychological, and biological factors. A variety of factors such as genetics, hormones, and brain chemistry may contribute to depression. 


The signs and symptoms of depression may differ from person to person based on the severity of the condition. You may experience any of the following symptoms:


  • Sadness, tearfulness, or emptiness 
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Angry outbursts
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Tiredness
  • Change in appetite and/or weight 
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Lack of concentration
  • Slow thinking and body movement
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Unexplained aches and body pain

Why Does PCOS Cause Depression? 

PCOS is a common hormonal disorder affecting women of childbearing age that causes ovulation dysfunction and menstrual irregularities. 


Women with PCOS are considered to be more prone to depression than women without PCOS. Studies suggest that up to 40% of women with PCOS develop depression. But how can PCOS cause depression?


Just like the specific cause behind PCOS is not known, the exact connection between PCOS and depression is also unknown. However, there are a few studies which hypothesise why women with PCOS may develop depression.


Excess weight gain is one of the most common symptoms of PCOS. It is said to be facilitated by insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, and weight gain around the abdominal region due to increased androgen levels. 


The connection between obesity and depression is well established. This connection may persist in those with PCOS. Obesity may also worsen the metabolic complications of PCOS such as PrediabetesType 2 Diabetesmetabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease, which can be difficult to cope with, further adding to the risk of depression.


Importantly, the struggle with external appearance due to weight gain and the stress of fitting into the beauty standards of society can push those with PCOS towards depression.

Insulin Resistance

Many PCOS-affected women develop insulin resistance, which means that their cells lose the ability to respond to insulin in a normal way. This results in excess sugar and insulin in your bloodstream, which leads to increased androgen (male hormones) levels and worsening of PCOS symptoms. 


Experts suggest that the increased androgen levels could contribute to an increased risk of depression in women with PCOS. Further, one theory also suggests that insulin resistance changes how your body makes certain hormones and leads to chronic stress and depression.


PCOS is also associated with chronic, low-grade inflammation throughout the body. Prolonged inflammation is associated with high levels of the cortisol hormone, which is known to increase the risk of developing depression.


High cortisol also contributes to an increased risk of insulin resistance, which, as we have seen, can lead to depression.



Living with PCOS isn’t easy. The struggles with symptoms such as weight gainacnehair lossexcess facial hair growth, body image issues, and infertility can cause a lot of stress and take a toll on those who live with PCOS. 


These factors may lead to depression due to PCOS-related stress in some women.


Now that you know the relationship between PCOS and depression, let’s see how you can deal with both conditions. 

While it sounds grim, you should know how to deal with PCOS-related depression. Treatment options for PCOS-related depression, include:


Management of PCOS

Consult a doctor if you have PCOS and observe any symptoms of depression. The doctor will perform a complete analysis and diagnosis and treat depression by treating the underlying cause, PCOS.


For the management of PCOS, leading a healthy lifestyle is the key to managing hormonal imbalance. Having a balanced dietexercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage your PCOS symptoms, which in turn can reduce the severity of depression.


The doctor may also prescribe birth control pills to correct the hormonal imbalance in PCOS, which may help with managing depression.


Apart from these, taking steps to manage your stress through yoga, meditation, and other activities that you enjoy can help you deal with depression in PCOS.


Talk Therapy

Talking to your loved ones, finding a support group of women struggling with PCOS and depression, or consulting a mental health professional can help you gain a better understanding of your condition, and deal with anxiety, stress, and depression. 


Among the several types of therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy can help with treating depression.



Your doctor may also prescribe an antidepressant to treat depression in PCOS. These medications can help improve your mental state and the quality of your life. 


However, inform your doctor about your medications and medical history and do not take antidepressants for PCOS without medical advice.


Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • Depression is a common and serious mental disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities.  It can affect the way you think, feel and act. 
  • The symptoms of depression may include disturbed sleep patterns, feeling of emptiness, agitation, angry outbursts, lack of motivation, change in appetite, etc. 
  • Studies suggest that up to 40% of women with PCOS develop depression but there is no clarity about why this happens. Factors such as obesity, insulin resistance, inflammation and stress associated with PCOS may be considered contributory to depression.
  • To treat PCOS-related depression, consult your doctor and start with the management of PCOS. 
  • You can also opt for talk therapy with mental health professionals, take antidepressants based on the doctor’s recommendations, and adapt healthy lifestyle changes such as a balanced diet, regular exercise and stress management techniques to help with PCOS-related depression. 
  • Start your PCOS management journey with Phable. Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading gynaecologists, endocrinologists, nutritionists, and dieticians; order medicines; book lab tests; and get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Check out our store to order healthy treats, weighing scales, fitness bands, and more! We also have a PCOS Management program that provides ‎360º care. 

Friendly Asked Questions

Are people with PCOS more emotional?

Yes, people with PCOS may tend to be more emotional and anxious. Though the exact cause behind disturbed mental health in those with PCOS is not known, the hormone imbalance, insulin resistance, inflammation, stress, and the struggles of living with PCOS may contribute to mental and emotional health struggles in PCOS.

Can antidepressants help with PCOS depression?

Yes, antidepressants may help those struggling with depression in PCOS but should always be taken in consultation with a doctor. Also, the root cause of depression in this case, PCOS, should be addressed with medication and lifestyle changes for treating the depression.

How do I get rid of PCOS-related depression?

Start with a timely consultation with your doctor. The doctor may suggest medication including birth control pills and lifestyle changes such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, and weight maintenance to treat PCOS and thus manage PCOS-related depression.  The doctor may also prescribe antidepressants or suggest that you opt for talk therapy with a trained mental health professional. 

What does PCOS do to mental health?

The hormonal imbalance in PCOS coupled with various factors such as obesity, insulin resistance, inflammation, and stress can cause mental health struggles in women with PCOS, ranging from mood swings to anxiety and depression. 

Is there a link between PCOS and depression?

Yes, in many women, PCOS and depression often occur together. Since the exact cause for PCOS is not established, it is not clearly known how PCOS results in depression. However, the hormonal imbalance, insulin resistance, chronic inflammation and stress of living with PCOS may contribute to an increased risk of depression.