Depression, Anxiety, and Fibroids

Depression, Anxiety, and Fibroids 645d540e8d79d.png

Depression, Anxiety, and Fibroids

Many of us are well aware that the presence of uterine fibroids can affect our physical health. They can cause heavy bleeding between and during menstruation, as well as painful or prolonged periods, a swollen abdomen, difficulty getting pregnant, frequent urination, and constipation. However, what many of us are not aware of, is how having fibroids can affect our mental health.

According to a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, women with uterine fibroids experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and self-directed violence, especially those experiencing pain or who have had a hysterectomy. The study compared 313,754 women aged 18-50 that had been diagnosed with uterine fibroids with 627,539 who did not have fibroids. Women with a prior diagnosis of depression, anxiety, self-violence, or who had been prescribed anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication were excluded from the study. After compiling and analyzing all of the data, researchers found that there is indeed a correlation that shows having uterine fibroids can adversely affect mental health.

So why is this?

In an interview published in The Gleaner, Justine East, a clinical psychologist, helped explain the connection. Based on her experience, she has found that “Depressive symptoms such as a low mood, feelings of hopelessness, crying, decreased or increased appetite, and loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities are likely to develop in women with fibroids.” She goes on to add that women suffering from the condition are more likely to experience “anxiety symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, and sleep disturbance because of fear for fibroids and their consequences, such as miscarriages or having to do surgery”.

Just like with any mental illness, the mental health issues that fibroids can create in a woman’s life, often impact their spouses, families, and friends as well. Seeing a loved one struggling and in distress, can be difficult for everyone involved. This is why psychologist’s like East, highly recommended seeking therapy, or finding some kind of therapeutic tool such as journaling, that can help with the emotions that can arise around having fibroids. East suggests that writing and/or talking to someone about the fears, discomfort, and pain that can be a part of having fibroids can help lessen the emotional burden. This, combined with speaking openly and honestly with your doctor about all of the available treatment options, can help women to gain control of their fibroids rather than having their fibroids feel as though they are controlling them.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with uterine fibroids and is experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, help is available. Not only can a therapist help with processing the emotions linked to having fibroids, but there are numerous online support groups as well. In fact, help can be found right at your fingertips, by joining a private Uterine Fibroid Support & Resource Group on Facebook.

Fibroids shouldn’t have power over women by adversely affecting their physical health and their mental health. Especially when effective non-invasive treatment is available. In fact, again and again, evidence has shown that after undergoing treatment for fibroids, many women’s emotional health, sexual functioning, body image, and overall quality of life improve. With the help of either a therapist, friend, or support group, and working with your doctor to find the best available treatment option, women can own their power over fibroids and the impact they can have on their mental and physical health.

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