Mental health disorders are not only poorly understood but are also heavily stigmatised. Especially with PCOS, where there is so much information and misinformation, the emotional challenges often go overlooked. In fact, many women with PCOS suffer from feelings of depression and anxiety and have the potential to affect their daily life.
Anxiety is a complex condition. And the diagnosis and treatment of this disorder gets even more complicated because of the number of myths surrounding it. In fact, most people are not clear if anxiety is a real condition or just another synonym for constant worrying. To help you understand what anxiety really is, and the role of anxiety in PCOS, we have listed some of the common myths about this disorder.
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Myth 1: Anxiety is in your head, it does not require medical care
Fact: You can experience feelings of anxiousness without having to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. However, chronic levels of anxiety or stressful situations can hamper your daily functioning. Anxiety is a real medical disorder – just because you cannot see it, does not mean you can let it go untreated or overlooked. There are formal protocols, such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that is referred to and practised by doctors to assess for an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are treatable with the right care and under the guidance of a therapist, psychiatrist or psychologist. You can continue to go on to live normal, fruitful lives.
Myth 2: Anxiety disorders are quite rare these days
Fact: To give you some perspective, every one in five women in India will suffer from anxiety disorders within any given year. And anxiety can affect anyone and everyone, it is also commonly seen in new mothers who struggle with postpartum anxiety and is as common as postpartum depression.
Myth 3: Having anxiety is just another way for attention-seeking behaviour
Fact: If you think anxiety affects only your mental health, think about it again. Your mental and physical health work in tandem. This means if there is any imbalance in either it can affect your overall health. In anxiety-provoking situations or anxiety attacks, many people can also experience increased heartbeat, shallow breathing, muscle spasm and sleep issues. Anxiety disorder can also manifest as fearfulness or irritability and it can affect your ability to do your daily tasks. These physical symptoms of an anxiety disorder are not in a person’s control and it is definitely not a way to seek attention in any form.
Myth 4: Anxiety can go away on its own, it’s a short-term issue
Fact: Like any other chronic condition, the longer you leave it untreated, the symptoms can get worse with time. According to statistics, those who have anxiety disorder can end up waiting around 10 years before they seek proper treatment. Fear, anxiousness and irritability can hamper performance at school or work or even daily activities. Also, leaving anxiety untreated can also impact your personal relationships with your friends and family. And can become overwhelming for the person to deal with. However, remember that anxiety disorder is a treatable condition and with proper diagnosis and medical treatment. You can recover and live a normal life.
Myth 5: There is no therapy for anxiety
Fact: the truth, is there is therapy for anxiety – it is called ‘talk therapy. Along with ‘talk therapy, mental support in PCOS which includes cognitive behavioural therapy and medications in some cases is also helpful in managing anxiety disorder. Most people have reported that they felt better within the first couple of weeks. In fact, many studies have shown that medication combined with therapy gives the best results for anxiety disorder. So speak to your doctor about which treatment plan will work the best for your symptoms.
Myth 6: You definitely need medicines to treat anxiety
Fact: You don’t have to have medicines to feel better or deal with anxiety. Although some people do take anxiety medications, every person’s journey will be different and will have a unique path to recovery. Depending on your symptoms, severity and the process of psychotherapy, medicines might be a part of your treatment.
Myth 7: Just avoid stressful situations, anxiety will also be gone
Fact: You cannot stay in a vacuum to avoid any stressful situation. And also because it is difficult to predict when a situation could become stressful. Also if you keep avoiding things or situations that can be anxiety-provoking. You might be labelling yourself as someone ‘who cannot handle’ situations, which can in turn hamper your recovery. You don’t have to avoid situations. Instead, take a proactive approach by addressing the underlying problem through either therapy or seeking professional mental support and prioritising your mental health to process your surroundings better!