PCOS & Anxiety (with special guest blogger Anne Poirier)
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is the most commonly diagnosed endocrine issue in women of childbearing age (15-44)—between seven and ten percent of women develop this condition, which is an imbalance of reproductive hormones (e.g., estrogen and progesterone). Because of this imbalance, the ovaries do not function effectively, thereby creating irregular menstruation and fertility issues as well as the growth of cysts.
Typical markers of PCOS include:
- the development of acne on the face, back, neck and chest
- the growth of facial hair
- thinning or loss of hair on the scalp
- the appearance of skin tags and dark patches
- weight gain
- high blood pressure
- elevated cholesterol
- sleep disturbances
While the precise cause of PCOS is unknown, the medical community believes genetics, higher levels of the male hormone androgen, and the presence of high levels of insulin are contributing factors. In fact, many women with PCOS also have insulin resistance which can lead to the onset of diabetes.
One of the principal symptoms of PCOS is the development of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. A January 2017 study found that women diagnosed with PCOS are three times as likely to report anxiety symptoms compared to women without PCOS. The numbers were similar for depression. This strong correlation makes sense—not only do PCOS sufferers have hormonal imbalances (which are known causes of mood disorders), but they also have to deal with the stress of body image anxiety resulting from physical changes (such as weight gain and facial hair) that accompany PCOS. And while there are medications (hormones) that are used in the treatment of PCOS, there is no easy fix for this condition.
Here’s where Anne Poirier, BS CSCS CIEC comes in. A health and fitness specialist (and a friend of the Anxiety Sisters), Anne is the founder of Shaping Perspectives, a wellness program located in beautiful coastal Maine designed to educate and support women so they can live mindfully and joyfully in their bodies. Anne was one of the professionals who helped Abs recover from her eating disorder (and accompanying anxiety) so we know firsthand how wise, caring and loving Annie is!
Anne is hosting a retreat specifically for women dealing with PCOS and other metabolic conditions May 18-20. Here is Anne in her own words:
A beautiful woman with long dark black hair and a 10-month old in tow sat in front of me asking with tears in her eyes to help her lose weight. “I can’t take it anymore! My anxiety is at an all-time high and I am just getting more and more depressed every day,” she sobbed.
We began working together, but with no real results. She tried everything I suggested but was still sleep deprived, panicky and stressed out all the time. It was then that I asked her to visit her doctor and get a full panel of blood tests done. The results revealed a lot: her hormone levels such as FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and androgens were way off the normal mark. Her diagnosis? PCOS (Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrome)
I began to research and further my own education on PCOS, stress and anxiety, disordered eating, and body image because I saw first-hand the amount of stress, pressure and poor self-esteem that Karen was experiencing. This was way beyond a weight issue! In order to attack her diagnosis and symptoms from all angles, I became a Certified Intuitive Eating Coach, Yoga Nidra and meditation guide, self-care, self-talk and body image specialist. Karen was no longer just a client—she had become a friend—and I wasn’t going to stop until I found a way to help her manage both her PCOS and anxiety.
This experience with Karen led me to develop a comprehensive program to specifically address her symptoms–a five-part program that was not geared toward weight loss, as her physicians continued to recommend to her, but one focused on reducing stress through balance, function and joy.
By following my program, Karen was able to accept her PCOS symptoms which have become much more manageable. Not only is she surviving, she’s thriving. She is happier and has significantly reduced her stress and anxiety and now has the skills and tools to handle both when they show up in her life.
Because of Karen and our continuing journey together, I am offering a very special weekend for women suffering from PCOS and other metabolic Issues. If you have PCOS, please consider joining me at my live event in Maine. Space is limited to 8.
Click here for more information on this life-changing weekend.