Depression, PCOS linked in study

Stanford Report, June 11, 2003
Depression, PCOS linked in study

Women who have a hormonal disorder called polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, are more likely to have depression than women without the disorder, said a study by medical center psychiatrist Natalie Rasgon, MD, PhD.

The study also shows women with PCOS are depressed not only because of the symptoms, which include infertility, but also because of the disease’s underlying biology. She said the findings have prompted her to further explore whether treating depression could help reproductive problems in PCOS patients.

The research, published in the May issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders, is the first study of the link between the syndrome and depression.

PCOS is the most common hormonal disorder in women of reproductive age, affecting up to 10 percent of premenopausal women. Women with PCOS secrete excess male hormones and don’t ovulate; they may have extra body hair, acne, obesity or baldness.

“The simple, logical explanation is that if a woman is overweight and balding, she would be depressed because of that,” said Rasgon, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, but her research points to physiological links as well.

Rasgon and her colleagues are currently conducting ongoing research into the link between PCOS and depression on a larger group of women.