Someone said adulthood is just telling yourself “if I can just get through this week” every week. Raise your hand if you’ve ever told yourself that (I know I have).
The truth is that there will always be anxiety and stress-inducing events that aren’t in our control. What is in our control however, is how we respond to them.
Now, feeling overwhelmed doesn’t mean that you’re weak, or not good enough, or not strong enough. Most people just don’t have skills or the know-how to get through these events.
Here’s where I can help.
This August, I’ll be hosting a 30-day challenge. At the end of it, you’ll have:
This challenge is NOT talk therapy. The goal is to help you live the life you want to live, and accomplish the things that you want to accomplish. Here is what you’ll be getting:
And if you enroll before Tuesday July 12th with the code GK20OFF, you’ll get 20% off the challenge.
The pope seems to have quite the opinion on this topic, and let’s just say I do not agree with him! For many people, choosing TO have children in a troubled world, without adequate resources, would be the actual selfish choice. Many people are able to devote more time, energy, and resources to living a healthier life when they are not also responsible for managing the lives of one or more children. I was featured in Bored Panda’s recent article on this topic, continue reading here!
Nature is full of ideal pairings: peanut butter and jelly; cookies and cream; cats and laser pointers, and so on. Unfortunately, PCOS and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), while frequently paired, are hardly ideal.
Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by repeated episodes of partial or complete blockage of the upper airway during sleep, leading to loud snoring, gasping or choking, frequent waking, and poor sleep quality. This condition is often associated with obesity and, just like obesity itself, has reached epidemic-level prevalence in the United States, with estimates that 17% of the adult population has OSA, with that number jumping to 41-58% of overweight individuals.
Unfortunately, OSA is also much more common in women with PCOS. How much more common, you ask with a wince? Well, studies have found that OSA may be 30 times more common in women with PCOS, even after controlling for body mass, and that a whopping 70-75 percent of women with PCOS may also have OSA. Yikes!
Poor sleep quality is hardly the only downside to OSA. The condition, in conjunction with the ramifications of consistently poor or interrupted sleep, can lead to increased stress hormones circulating throughout your system, more severe mood swings, increased depression and anxiety, hypertension, stroke, coronary artery disease, insulin resistance and diabetes (as if we need any more risk of that!), and decreased mental clarity. Double yikes!
Often, conditions like PCOS, OSA, obesity, and diabetes play a kind of terrible chicken and egg game in which each condition exacerbates the others, and vice versa. Diabetes and poor sleep can lead to weight gain, which worsens OSA, which sends your stress hormones further out of whack, which keeps your androgen levels high, which causes further PCOS symptoms, etc. I’d say triple yikes but I think you get the picture.
Adding to the difficulty, because OSA is a medical condition, there is little a health psychologist such as myself can do on our own (even my powers have limits!). I can screen for OSA when I’m evaluating sleep problems, but ultimately, I’ll have to refer you to a medical doctor. So what do women with PCOS do about OSA? The first and most important step is to get tested for it and diagnosed — particularly if you find that you tend to snore, wake up frequently during the night, sleep poorly, or feel tired during the day frequently. More than likely, you will need a referral to a pulmonologist, a specialist who deals with the respiratory system.
Fortunately, OSA is often easily treated. Treatments may include bedtime additions such as nasal strips, a mouth guard, or a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. While these devices may take some time to get used to, you will be amazed at how much better your sleep quality will be, and how much better that makes you feel overall. Research has also found that the vast majority of people with OSA do not even know they have it. If you are a woman with PCOS and you have one or more of those sleep-related symptoms I mentioned earlier, chances are, you are in this group. You deserve better. Get yourself diagnosed and treated, and you might just be amazed at how much your quality of life improves!
Lee, W., Nagubadi, S., Kryger, M. H., & Mokhlesi, B. (2008). Epidemiology of obstructive sleep apnea: a population-based perspective. Expert Review of Respiratory Medicine, 2(3), 349–364. http://doi.org/10.1586/17476322.214.171.1249
Tasali, E., Cauter, E. Van, & Ehrmann, D. (2008). Polycystic Ovary Syndrom and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Sleep Medicine Clinics, 3(1), 37–46. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1556407X07001415
I’ve previously written about the importance of community support for women dealing with PCOS. This support can come from family and friends, as well as mental health professionals, medical professionals, and both in-person and online support groups. One of the most important organizations PCOSers (Is that even a word? It is now!) should be aware of is PCOS Challenge.
PCOS Challenge is the leading non-profit advancing the causes of those with PCOS and their loved ones. Not only does it sport a 40,000-member strong online community, but it also creates television, radio, and online programming as well as hosts numerous online and offline support groups. If you are a woman with PCOS or a person who loves one, I highly recommend you join the site and begin reaping the benefits!
One of those benefits is the FREE bi-monthly online PCOS Challenge Magazine! In the current May-June issue, yours truly has a featured article all about dating with PCOS, as well as quick tips on fighting anxiety and depression.
Behold, the answers lie within!
Also in this issue, you will find a very special announcement. I am extremely pleased and honored to share that I have joined PCOS Challenge’s Health Advisory Board (HAB)! The HAB consists of researchers and healthcare leaders who help ensure the accuracy of the information that PCOS Challenge shares, as well as helps guide PCOS Challenge’s content, funding, and advocacy efforts.
This is a huge honor for me and I am excited and grateful to get to utilize my expertise as a health psychologist specializing in PCOS and other endocrine disorders to contribute to such an important organization!
Gretchen Kubacky, Psy.D., “The PCOS Psychologist,” is a health psychologist in private practice in Los Angeles, California. She a Certified PCOS Educator, and the founder of PCOSwellness.com. You can contact Dr. Kubacky at AskDrGretchen@gmail.com.