Guest post by Dr Carol Percy
Anxiety is a common human experience, and the current COVID-19 crisis is anxiety-provoking for most of us. That may be more so for you if you already had issues with anxiety and/or depression before COVID-19. Not everyone with PCOS will develop anxiety or depression, but we know many of you do experience both of these.
There are already some really helpful resources out there that have been prepared by experts – whether government organisations or patient/mental health charities. Here is a collection of information advice we hope you will find useful:
Public Health England has issued advice for the public on mental health and wellbeing in the context of COVID-19. This includes things you can do to stay as well as possible, physically and mentally while you are staying at home. There is also advice on practical issues, such as getting vital supplies, financial concerns and caring for others.
NHS Every Mind Matters also has advice and resources for supporting your wellbeing while staying at home, with links to NHS-recommended helplines, and advice on managing anxiety, mood and trouble sleeping. There are onward links to some self-help activities, e.g. cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and mindfulness. There are also links for urgent support.
The mental health charity Mind has published specific guidance on coronavirus and wellbeing, including for those who already have a diagnosis of anxiety, depression (or other mental health issues) and are already receiving treatment. Key points are to keep taking any medication as prescribed and to continue to access your treatment and support from health professionals where possible. It’s true that the crisis has affected the way some services run, but many health professionals are working to provide continued access to their patients, including by telephone and newer online technologies.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has information, advice and some self-help resources for both depression and anxiety. Their site has a list of ‘Books on prescription’ that includes therapies and approaches such as CBT and mindfulness, as well as recommended books on depression, anxiety, stress, sleep, grief and health anxiety.
If you find online discussion forums helpful, HealthUnlocked has a PCOS UK (Verity) forum where you can talk to other people and share experiences of PCOS, treatment and concerns. As well as getting support yourself you may also find that you’re helping others. You can keep up with Verity and get peer support via the Verity social media streams. Local groups can also be found on Facebook.
We know Verity supporters have a huge range of talent, skills and enthusiasm. If you have time and resources you might find volunteering helps others and helps you feel better too. If you do volunteer, keep following the latest government advice on social distancing and self-isolation, and remember to look after your own safety, wellbeing and that of others. We are all looking out for each other at this very tough time, and we’re looking forward to continuing our support for you when we’re through this crisis.