Women with endometriosis have a higher risk of developing anxiety, depression, and other psychological symptoms, according to a review study published in the International Journal of Women’s Health.
Psychological factors play a critical role in the perception of pain and other symptoms that are commonly found in endometriosis. They can also have an impact on the effectiveness of treatments.
The authors of the study, “Anxiety and depression in patients with endometriosis: impact and management challenges,” highlight the importance of recognizing psychiatric symptoms in these patients. The factors can have a great impact not only on women’s quality of life, but also on their disease progression, they noted.
The association between endometriosis and psychological disorders has been reported in several previous studies, with depression and anxiety being the most common conditions. The incidence of such symptoms is higher in women with endometriosis than in any other gynecological condition.
Women with endometriosis commonly suffer from chronic pelvic pain (CPP). Research studies have highlighted the influence CPP can have on patients’ quality of life and psychological well-being. However, high levels of anxiety and depression can alter the way women perceive their pain by reducing their pain tolerance or increasing their sensitivity to physical stimuli in general.
These results suggest that there is a vicious circle between CPP and psychological disorders, but the processes that control this balance are still unclear. Researchers suggest additional studies are needed to understand the relationship between psychiatric symptoms and the perception of pain.
Not many studies addressed the effect psychological factors can have on endometriosis treatment results. The use of hormonal therapies such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRH) are effective at reducing endometriosis symptoms, but they are often associated with anxiety and depression. Women undergoing such treatments may benefit from additional therapies to reduce those symptoms.
The link between endometriosis and psychological disorders is still widely unknown and unrecognized, which makes it a challenge to manage. But these are important symptoms that should not be ignored because they can have a major impact on the lives of these women.
“We take the opportunity to stress the importance of a multidisciplinary approach in the management of women with endometriosis,” the researchers wrote.
“Psychological assessment is recommended in order to identify women at risk of developing symptoms of anxiety and depression and provide them an adequate psychological support,” they added.