According to research published recently in New Scientist, endometriosis can reprogram the brain and cause mental health disorders. Researchers at Yale University conducted experiments that involved injecting endometrial cells into mice. The rodents were tested 12 weeks later and results showed they had developed signs of anxiety and depression.
For nearly all of my adult life, I have suffered from severe depression and anxiety. On the better days, I struggle to leave my bed. On worse days, I suffer from insomnia and panic attacks cause me to freak out at night. At times ― and most heart-breaking of all ― suicidal thoughts clog my mind. Eventually, my mental health forced me to abandon my professional career. Therapy didn’t work and the pills my doctors prescribed achieved very little. My inability to hold down a job cemented the label I had given to my entire life: a failure.
What’s more, while I am yet to be diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), hearing about this helped me see my own PMS in a new light. For me, it involves losing grasp of reality or succumbing to horrifying anger fits.
While most women with PMS endure unpleasant, yet manageable, days every month, others (about 5-8 percent of women in the U.K.) suffer symptoms so intense that their lives are affected severely.
Studies like the one in New Scientist and PMDD diagnoses shed a lot of light on the mental health aspect of endometriosis. As a patient, I feel conflicted when offered hormone treatments; I want help, but I worry they will worsen my depression. In the same way, the therapists I’ve met don’t seem to grasp the link between this illness and my mind. Are antidepressants even the right way to go?
Effective treatment to tackle all aspects of endometriosis at once may seem improbable at times. But recognizing the mental health side of this illness is key. It shows there is more than the physical symptoms most doctors are willing to address. It proves endometriosis sufferers are battling more than our bodies.
Most importantly, it means we are not losing our minds.
It’s not us, it’s the endometriosis.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.