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Is it my mental illness or my hormones?

One of the biggest struggles with being a woman and having a mental illness is that it is difficult to know if your mental illness is flaring or if it is your hormones.

Girl covering her face in despair.

Yes, you may think that it might be easy to detect if you track your time of the month, but what I have discovered is that there are multiple hormonal imbalance disorders out there that affect women.

One of the common ones is PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). PCOS is when you have problems with your hormones. The exact cause is unknown, but researchers believe that it can be hereditary. Some symptoms that may be included with PCOS are excessive facial and body hair, irregular periods, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. The best way to get diagnosed is by visiting your gynecologist and getting an ultrasound.

I personally live with PCOS since I was 15 years ago, and because of this, I was put on birth control to regulate my hormones. I am also diagnosed with Bipolar and BPD which can make it difficult for me to know if I am going through a depressive episode or if my hormones are acting up.

Over my years of dealing with all of these conditions, I have discovered ways to tell the difference…

Disclaimer: This is from my personal experience. I am not a medical professional. Please see your medical professional for a diagnosis.

Here are 5 ways to tell if it is your PCOS or your mental illness…

1 - Keep track of your time of the month

If you have an iPhone, you can use the health app already downloaded or you can go to the app store or google play store to download the app. PCOS can cause the symptoms of a period to be 10x worse than it is for someone without the condition. PMS symptoms may show a couple of days before you start your period. If you are noticing that you are more irritable than usual around that time, it can be your PCOS magnifying your period symptoms.

2 - Notice if your pelvic area is cramping

People who struggle with PCOS can experience cramping any time of the month, it doesn’t have to be just around your time of the month so if you are feeling depressed, see how your pelvic area is feeling.

3 - Be mindful of how you feel in the morning

If you wake up feeling super anxious and depressed, but then it goes away after you move and walk around, chances are your hormones may have been out of whack, but if you feel depressed randomly out of nowhere, it may be your mental health declining.

4 - Watch what you are eating

The foods you eat have a huge effect on your hormones. Having a diet heavy in processed foods can trigger a hormonal imbalance. Some foods you should avoid are sugary drinks, fried foods, processed meats, refined carbs, and excessively sugary baked goods. Some foods that help PCOS are fatty fish, green veggies, nuts, dark chocolate, and berries.

5 - Night sweats

If you wake up in the middle of the night all sweaty, this may indicate that your PCOS is flaring and your hormones aren’t balanced.

Woman meditating and practicing mindfulness.

The biggest takeaway from this is to practice mindfulness. There are differences between experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and mood swings because of a hormonal balance then experiencing it because of your mental health disorders. The best thing is to learn and know your body, so you can help yourself feel the happiest and healthiest every day.


Is anxiety a debilitating force in your life? Has it taken control of your life and left you as a fearful passenger? We have an article that can help. You can start your journey and beat anxiety by checking out our other article, From Fear to Fearless: How to Manage Anxiety and Embrace Opportunities.

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