The Link Between PCOS and Depression

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder that affects people with ovaries. It is characterized by an imbalance in hormones, although the exact causes are not well understood. Symptoms of PCOS include:

  • irregular or infrequent periods
  • development of cysts on the ovaries
  • excessive hair growth
  • acne

If you have PCOS, you may be more susceptible to depression due to its impact on hormones and physical appearance. However, there are various treatments available to manage PCOS and the depression that may result from it.

Can PCOS cause depression?

PCOS can cause depression due to unpleasant symptoms. A study found 26% of PCOS patients also had depression. There are several reasons why individuals with PCOS may be more susceptible to depression, such as:

Hormonal changes

Individuals with PCOS may be at risk of developing depression due to an increase in androgens. Studies suggest that this hormonal change can lead to hair loss, acne, weight gain, and excessive hair growth that is dark and coarse. These physical changes can negatively affect one's self-image and self-esteem, which may ultimately lead to depression.

Irregular menstrual cycle

Irregular menstrual cycles are one of the most common signs of PCOS. Due to the imbalance of hormones and increase in androgen hormones, ovulation may not occur, which can lead to the absence of periods. This hormonal imbalance can cause periods to be irregular, infrequent, or absent altogether. The unpredictability of periods can be frustrating and contribute to depression. If you are experiencing menstrual cycles longer than 35-40 days or skipping your period some months, it is recommended to seek evaluation from a healthcare professional.


The hormonal imbalance in PCOS can prevent ovulation and cause infertility, making it one of the most common causes of infertility. Infertility can lead to depression for those trying to conceive.

Weight gain

PCOS can cause a hormonal imbalance that affects your metabolism and increases your risk of obesity. It can also lead to insulin resistance and diabetes, which can contribute to weight gain. People with PCOS are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and negative self-image, which can also affect their weight.

Treatment options to consider

PCOS is a complex condition that affects individuals differently, and it can lead to various complications. There are several treatment options available, including medication, lifestyle changes, and surgery. However, it is crucial to work with a medical professional to determine the most suitable treatment for you. While there is no definitive cure for PCOS, treatment options can help alleviate certain symptoms.

Lifestyle changes

Research conducted in 2019 suggests that the first line of treatment for PCOS is to make lifestyle changes. If you have PCOS, the following tips can help reduce some of the symptoms associated with the syndrome:

  • eating a healthy diet
  • exercising
  • getting adequate sleep
  • losing weight

However, these changes can be difficult to initiate or maintain if you are struggling with a mental health condition such as depression. In such cases, it may be necessary to work with a mental health professional to help you approach lifestyle changes.


Antidepressants can be a viable treatment option for individuals with PCOS to alleviate some of the mental health symptoms associated with the syndrome. However, it's important to note that there is a risk of weight gain with antidepressants, which can negatively impact glucose levels and worsen PCOS symptoms.


Psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for depression in individuals with PCOS. Therapies like acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be beneficial for people with PCOS. If you're looking for a therapist, you may find this resource helpful for support.

Final words

Living with PCOS can increase the likelihood of experiencing depression. The symptoms of PCOS can have a negative impact on both your physical and mental health. The effects of PCOS, such as weight gain, acne, and excessive hair growth, can lower your self-esteem and body image. Additionally, you may experience physical pain and find it challenging to make necessary lifestyle changes to alleviate symptoms.

It is crucial to take PCOS and depression seriously. If you notice signs of low self-esteem, lack of motivation, or thoughts of self-harm or suicide, it is essential to seek professional help.