Endometriosis involves the presence and growth of endometrial-like tissue outside of the uterine cavity. As one of the most common gynecological conditions, endometriosis ("endo") affects one in 10 women. The most common symptoms of endo include menstrual irregularities, chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and dysmenorrhea.
Living with endometriosis isn't easy, and the symptoms of the condition often affect the psychological and social functioning of individuals affected. For many patients, the symptoms of endo significantly compromise social relationships, sexuality, and mental health, leading to social isolation, anxiety, and depression. If you're struggling to keep your social life alive and function with endo, here are some ways to cope.
Reach Out for Support
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From family to personal relationships to work, the symptoms of endo can take control of every aspect of your life. Surrounding yourself with the support of close friends and family can help you avoid social isolation when your anxiety and depression are at their worst.
Social support is a valuable coping mechanism, but in some situations, sharing your experience with friends and family can be challenging. Endometriosis is a complicated condition, and some friends and family members may be quick to tell you that you're just exaggerating.
If you're not getting the support you need from friends or family, joining an online endometriosis support group can provide the opportunity to share your experience with women in similar situations. Additionally, try asking your gynecologist about local endo support groups for in-person opportunities to swap strategies for coping with endo.
If you're experiencing anxiety or depression, reach out for professional help. The expert specialists at the Therapy Group of DC, a group of therapists in DC, provide personalized, data-driven treatment plans for each patient. Whether you're fighting social isolation or struggling to function at work, the professionals at the Therapy Group of DC can help you learn healthy ways to cope.
Focus on Your Diet
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Dealing with anxiety and depression can feel overwhelming, and it's easy to reach for unhealthy foods if you're not in a great mental space. However, according to HealthSoul, an online directory of hospitals, travel insurance, health insurance, and doctors, all-natural treatment methods, like eating a healthy diet, can improve the symptoms of depression and reduce endometriosis pain.
In one randomized controlled trial, symptoms of depression improved significantly among subjects who followed a Meditteranean-style diet for three weeks. The study reported that the depression "score" of participants fell from the "moderate" to "normal" range, and participants also reported feeling less stressed and anxious.
Another study found that a high intake of fresh fruit and vegetables reduced the relative risk of endometriosis by 40 percent. Meanwhile, diets high in beef, red meat, and ham increased the relative risk between 80 and 100 percent. Consequently, increasing your fruit and vegetable intake and incorporating Omega-3 fatty acids into your diet may be able to reduce the pain associated with endo and improve the symptoms of depression.
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According to a study by the National Institute of Health, stress can worsen the symptoms of endometriosis, and dealing with the symptoms of endo can further heighten stress levels. To avoid getting caught in a never-ending cycle, aim to incorporate self-care into your daily routine.
If you're not sure where to start, try tracking your period, endo symptoms, and mood swings to obtain an idea of when you experience the worst symptoms. If possible, clear your calendar to avoid feeling overwhelmed by social and work obligations when your symptoms are at their worst.
Living with endo is both emotionally and physically draining, and paying attention to your mind and body connection can help you feel better. In a recent study, mindful meditation improved pain and depression symptoms in individuals with chronic pain. If meditation isn't for you, creating a photo journal using a private photo storage device or writing down your feelings in a notebook can help you reap the same therapeutic benefits.
Dealing with the symptoms of endometriosis can feel overwhelming, and many women with endo experience anxiety and depression. Reaching out for help, focusing on your diet, and practicing self-care can help you avoid sacrificing your social relationships and mental health because of endo.