Welcome to Episode 7 of Season 6 of The PCOS Revolution Podcast:
How to Boost Your Moods and Energy With Dr. Gretchen Kubacky
What feels right to you? With so much information out there, it can be overwhelming to manage PCOS and know what to do. During this episode, an expert shares insightful information related to having, managing and living with PCOS. There is no perfect way to do this PCOS thing.
This week on PCOS Revolution Podcast, I am having a conversation with Dr. Gretchen Kubacky. Dr. Kubacky is a health psychologist with private practice in Southern California. She is also a certified PCOS educator and frequent lecturer on women’s health. Dr. Kubacky founded PCOSwellness.com after struggling with PCOS herself and going through surgery every year for 20 years of her life.
In this episode, Dr. Gretchen Kubacky and I discuss how she came to work with women with PCOS, her own experience with PCOS and how to manage PCOS. Many women face analysis paralysis based on the overwhelming amount of information. We’ll also break things down and talk about where to start and how to keep it simple.
- Could you tell us about what brought you to work with women with PCOS (0:57)
- Women Dr. Gretchen Kubacky has worked with and findings she has come across (2:37)
- Healing the mental part of it helps you heal the physical part of it (4:20)
- Incidents of depression with PCOS (4:30)
- Recommendations for someone just newly diagnosed with PCOS and where to start (5:52)
- There is no such thing as a specific specialty in PCOS (11:07)
- Developing assertive skills to be your best advocate (16:00)
- Gretchen’s personal experience (19:15)
- The gut-brain connection (23:12)
- The repercussions of over tracking (31:05)
- Enjoying your life and being relatively healthy (33:15)
- Learning what’s true for you (36:10)
READ the full transcript here:
Farrar Duro 0:01
Hello, everybody and welcome back to the PCOS Revolution podcast. Today I have with me Gretchen Kubacky, who is a health psychologist in private practice in Southern California. And she’s also a certified PCOS educator, and a frequent lecturer on women’s health, along with being the founder of www.pcoswellness.com. She’s dedicated to education, advocacy, and empowerment for women and girls with PCOS. I am so honored to have you, Doctor Kubacky. Thank you for joining us.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 0:31
Thank you so much for inviting me on. I’m really happy to be here and give some education about the psychological and mental health aspects of PCOS.
Farrar Duro 0:40
I know that you do a lot of work with teens and their families and you went through a pretty big personal journey. Could you tell us a little bit about what brought you to work with girls and women with PCOS?
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 0:54
Of course, I was diagnosed about 30 years ago, and at that time, they said, “here’s your package of birth control pills, come back when you want to get pregnant”, no one told me anything about any potential side effects or certainly not about any mental health issues, depression, anxiety, that sort of thing. I went about my way and had surgery every year for about 20 years, most of them, things like removing cysts that were getting bigger and worse, endometriosis surgeries, eventually culminating in a hysterectomy, partial hysterectomy, because of GCS related problems. For the first half of my PCOS journey, I was definitely aligned with Western medicine. And over time, though, as I got more desperate, more miserable, I discovered nature, natural empathy, and acupuncture and all of those sorts of things. I’ve really evolved into thinking that the right way is the middle path. I like things from both systems and from all systems. I don’t think anybody’s got the perfect answers. But my mission is really educating people about how the mental health piece fits in. Because if you are not feeling well enough to get motivated, and if you’re feeling depressed, if you’re feeling anxious, you’re not going to take action. And with PCOS, you really have to take action in order to get good health results.
Farrar Duro 2:19
That’s so true. I think that there’s power in sharing your story with your patients and other women that are going through this, because oftentimes, people feel like they’re alone. Also, there’s a lot of self blame. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the kind of aha moments you’ve had when you’ve worked with women with PCOS, who have been through the gamut, like us described?
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 2:45
Sure. I think the first thing to know is that we are not alone. It’s something that used to be described as an unusual condition. I really do believe now that we’re more in the 15 to 20% of women and teens who have PCOS, which makes us a sizable population. The thing is that it’s still something that is often misdiagnosed and those delayed diagnoses. What happened for me, I became a health psychologist, and I was very interested in infertility because I was going through infertility treatments, and I realized this is really devastating. Psychologically, there’s no support, they just want to book you for another treatment, everything is tracked, scheduled, mandated, kind of brutal, actually, sometimes. It was really hard to deal with. What I discovered, though, was that almost all of my infertility patients had the CLS, I started connecting things and found a dietitian, Monica Woolsey, who was making these connections also regarding eating disorders. And this light bulb went off. And I said, this is what’s going on. This is the connection. Many women with eating disorders, so many women with PCOS and infertility, and then it just sort of all started to make sense. And of course, what I was seeing was a lot of anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder, and of course, eating disorders. But it occurred to me that this is really a whole body problem. This is not just ovaries, this is not just a reproductive issue. That was when I began to focus more on PCOS, specifically, because healing the mental part of it helps you heal the physical part of it. And vice versa.
Farrar Duro 4:24
Definitely, Do you see a large incidence of depression with your younger patients with PCOS?
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 4:32
I do, I tend to see more depression that I think is related to long term medical journeys not being understood, people not really getting how bad the symptoms are, getting dismissed by medical doctors for the symptoms, or they throw you some prescription for antidepressants, which, by the way, big surprise, are only effective at most 50% of the time. Actually, some of the newer stuff I’ve been looking at, I’m going to say it’s more like a third of the time antidepressants work. That’s okay, sometimes very helpful, but not super helpful, so there’s got to be other answers to this. This is where I get very interested in the underlying biology, which is how do we regulate hormones? How do we reduce our stress levels, so that our cortisol goes down, and our bodies are not always overreacting? That is the part that I think is really interesting is that we may not be able to “cure what’s going on psychologically, but we can affect huge changes through lifestyle changes”, and those are all beneficial for the body as well.
Farrar Duro 5:41
That’s true. Who would you recommend if somebody is just newly diagnosed with PCOS? Maybe it’s a parent whose teenager has been diagnosed with it? Where do they start? Because I know, there’s a lot of advice out there, we have our patients meet us and start with just one thing, because I’ve been so overwhelming to just kind of throw a ton of things. What advice would you say to parents, I guess you’re just finding out about that, or two women who, whose doctors have just said, Well, there you got PCOS, and here’s a prescription for pills.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 6:21
I am a firm believer that knowledge is power. I think what’s really helpful specifically for parents, because again, I do want to work with teens a lot. I do a lot of consultation with parents who are trying to figure out how best to support their kids, as they’re going through this when it gets discovered and diagnosed, is to learn as much as possible about everything and as much as possible stick to what I would call legitimate resources. There’s a ton of chat rooms on the internet, for example. First of all, most people are only reporting things when they’re not going well. Nobody logs on and says, “hey, guess what, I’m doing really great”. And it’s all because I worked hard and found the right exercise program, and decided not to eat whatever, right? Unless they’re selling something. So getting information, that’s really, I’d rather it be a little bit less exciting information, but have it be better curated, in terms of having the scientific documentation, not that science has the answers to everything either.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 7:24
But I worry because there’s a lot of a lot of stuff on the internet, but it’s just not accurate. For example, at the moment, the keto diet is extremely popular in the PCOS crowd. We don’t have any evidence that it’s useful for anything other than preventing seizures on children. There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence, I don’t doubt that it’s a good kickstart for a lot of people. It’s also a gateway to an eating disorder for a whole lot more people. That’s where my perspective comes in is that I don’t want anybody doing anything really extreme. I do want them to start out small because when they come in, they’ve often been handed three to five prescriptions, told to go on extreme diet, told to go on an extreme exercise program.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 8:11
They come in crying, and all they want to do is sleep for 12 hours a day, and eat bread and pasta. At first, I really want women to start with something like getting an extra half hour of sleep every night, because sleep is where your healing process is occurring for both your body and your brain. I want them to do something like start with a guided meditation online through the free InSite app, pick one that’s three minutes or five minutes long. pretty much anybody can do that. If you can’t even do that, cut it down to one minute or 30 seconds, any little bit will help. And then we build from there. I guess the overall statement on this would be this is not something that’s a quick fix. This is a lifelong process project and very individualized, it is going trial and error, and you’ve got to sustain energy for the long haul.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 8:23
That’s one of the things that I would definitely say about antidepressants, and again, don’t get me wrong, they have their place in psychiatry, absolutely, they can be life saving. But except for a couple of antidepressants, almost all antidepressants tend to have a side effect of weight gain, decreased libido or sex drive. So those are already as we know, huge problems for women with PCOS. It’s something where I often find that we are hesitant to try medications.Those are good reasons, if you have something going on that requires you to have medication because you have bipolar disorder, or you have schizophrenia, for example, those are typically situations in which you really must be on medication. Then we do have to deal with the psychological fallout of gaining 30 pounds, because you’re on a medication that’s keeping you from being suicidal, right, or from having delusions. There are very hard trade off sometimes, and those can also be very discouraging. That’s part of what we work through when dealing with the psychological issues.
Farrar Duro 9:01
I think that’s great advice for anyone who’s trying to navigate this whole journey. It’s a lifelong journey really, and getting one quick win each month, whether it be diet or going to a therapist and getting to the bottom of it and not not to say that medication is not effective. There are some cases where it can really work well. I think the side effects sometimes could be also with weight gain compounding things, when women have PCOS, and they’re on birth control, and so many other things going on.
Farrar Duro 9:13
That’s so weird. I guess when you have worked with your own struggles with PCOS, maybe think about something we don’t know about about your area of expertise, that is woman with PCOS, we probably should know.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 11:16
In my area of expertise, the one thing I would tell you is that almost no one has this expertise. I’m not saying that blow myself up as an expert. But there is no such thing as a specific specialty in PCOS. Really, I am a health psychologist, which is a good to handful of a specific specialty in psychology, but most therapists are not going to know about PCOS. Most of them are not going to know anything specific about treating it, you may have to be the one who is educating them about what PCOS means in the psychological sense, how it is coming out for you.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 11:57
Many therapists can treat the effects PCOS, any good therapist is qualified to teach and to treat depression or anxiety, you may need a specialist for eating disorder stuff. But what is not well understood is the hormonal part of it. Don’t go in assuming “Oh, this therapist is an idiot because she doesn’t know about PCOS or she doesn’t know how it’s affecting the mentally, it’s highly unlikely that any therapist will know.”
Farrar Duro 12:25
It’s true. I think growing up, I just remember feeling kind of off like I’m not sure why I feel this way. I didn’t know that it was my hormones, being a teenager and not really understanding what was going on. I think that there’s a disconnect sometimes between what the anxiety and the depression that comes up and actually being related to PCOS, because there are still a lot of practitioners that don’t link those two. I think it’s not to say, “Okay, everything is just PCOS. That’s it.” But if there is someone that you’re talking to, I think to bring that up and say, “Well, I think there’s a link and I don’t think it’s all 100% coming from my own environment.” If that person is willing to work with you on that level, I think that’s really important. We’ve had patients that will go to therapists, and they’re like, “Well, this is what it is, and it’s all environmental, or it’s because you’re overweight, or it’s because you have acne.” It’s not either or, it’s kind of everything, I think, do you find that true?
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 13:30
Yes, one of the things that is a problem in our western medicine system is that it’s not a whole body system. You go to the gynecologist, you go to the endocrinologist, you go to the orthopedic doctor, all of those problems are treated individually. And ideally, all of your medical care providers should be working together, everybody should be on the same page as far as how we’re treating this person, but that does not happen usually. It’s something where you can ask your therapist, for example, to work with your doctor. Good luck getting the doctor to return the phone calls, though, sometimes you get lucky and you get that help. But there is a lot of trying to figure this out for yourself. I think one of the difficulties of being a teenager who’s struggling with a lot of symptoms, I think a lot of us got dismissed for having irregular periods. They said, “Oh, it’s common, when you’re a teenager, irregular periods in a few years, it’ll even out.” And, okay, that’s what the doctor said, and it doesn’t get treated. I think people are smarter now in terms of being able to access Dr. Google, figure out their symptoms and say, “Hey, what do you think about this”, and so that is helpful. I think that most PCOS patients probably at some point, unless they’re extraordinarily lucky, are going to encounter one or more caregivers who are going to be dismissive or who are especially going to go down that half of it’s because you’re fat. How many of us have gone in with an ache in our shoulder and they said, “Well, if you lose about 40 pounds, you wouldn’t have all this extra weight dragging your shoulder down.” That makes no sense at all.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 15:19
Well, the net result of that, then is that a lot of PCOS patients avoid doctors, avoid them. For years, I’ve seen patients who’ve gone over a decade without being seen by any doctor. What that means is, you’re missing out on early treatment opportunities for things like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, even diabetes. Those are the things that get really scary. It’s hard to see, because those are all invisible things. Sometimes, though, what happens is, you don’t know until all of a sudden you’ve got a diabetes diagnosis, or you have a heart attack when you’re 42, or something like that. Those are the things that really worry me. I think part of this also really is like how do we develop the assertiveness skills to be our own best advocates as patients, you’ve got to walk in assuming that your doctor doesn’t really know much about PCOS, and that you’re going to be the educator, same thing with therapists, a likelihood is they just don’t know that much. I know hundreds of therapists, maybe even thousands, but that’s just barely touching the field of therapists even here in the United States. I think that talking about it also is something where people do get curious, they’re lifelong learners, and they want to know, and they want to take better care of their patients. They will come and do research. Hopping on my blog, for example, there’s about 75 blogs at this point, that have a lot of great information specific about the interaction between PCOS and mental health issues. That’s a great place for somebody to get some quick education, they don’t have to fly to Los Angeles or pay for a consultation.
Farrar Duro 17:00
Do you work with women all over the world, or is it like in distance formats? Or how do you?
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 17:06
I do. I do a lot of consultation. I work worldwide, as long as we can work out the timezone issues. I’ve worked with women in India, China, London, all over the place. I really like doing that, because I feel like when I can do that with someone, say with a doctor in India, that I can give them a lot of knowledge that then affect dozens or hundreds of women, that is very exciting. In terms of very cool. Yeah, it’s like why blogs like podcasts like this, I think are really important, because thousands of people may be able to listen to something that you put out three years ago, and get a critical piece of information that will help them make sense of what’s going on for them personally, and then they can take action from there.
Farrar Duro 17:50
Definitely, we’ve had people from Africa, India, all countries reach out to us. I think it’s so wonderful. We always love to hear from you guys. If you are listening in and you want to reach out, we’re going to be linking to Dr. Gretchen’s links at her book and everything else that we discuss, and the show notes also have our transcript recommendations. I think that sharing your story is important because it helps other women. I really think that this is the time to do it. If you’re comfortable with that, of course, and your story is pretty phenomenal too, Dr. Gretchen, when I was reading your bio, because I feel like we were kind of I don’t know, for the same age or close to it. But in the late 90’s is when I was struggling to kind of find answers, I guess to what’s going on. And there wasn’t Google, there was not really Google much. It was like a Medical Library. That’s what I had. I think we do have the luxury now of so much information. But it’s a double-edged sword. Because it can produce a lot of anxiety, not really knowing the pathway. I guess if you could think of something that has been such a huge help to your clients, that you can share your patients with our listeners, what would that be?
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 19:12
Yes. let me tell you a little bit in the context of my story. My story is kind of a classic PCOS story, I think for a woman of my age, which is 54, it’s something where there was a pretty dismissive kind of treatment and diagnosis, I think, back in the day. This would be for me in the 70’s and 80’s, mostly maybe early 90s. And it was pretty cut and dried, you have a cyst over a certain size, there was a 1% chance that it’s going to be cancerous, we need to take it out, you’re having surgery. Okay. Not accounting for the fact that every surgery traumatizes your body, every surgery disrupts your metabolic activity for six to 12 months, while I had surgery every year for 20 years.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 20:03
What does this do on top of having PCOS? Some years, I had two surgeries. So I look at that. And I know that they were doing the best they could in that time, I was doing the best that I could with that information. But like you I’m a knowledge seeker, I’m a bookworm, I spent way too much time at the UCLA bio med library. I checked out all of the books that were written for doctors and dietitians and whatever there was it looked like it might be randomly connected. I don’t think that kind of research is necessary for most people. Nowadays, it is easy to get all of this information on the internet. But I think the idea of getting overwhelmed by the anxiety, you get into information overload, analysis paralysis, and what it leads to, especially if you’re already feeling depressed, anxious, demotivated, de-energized because one of the big characteristics of depression is lack of better energy, lack of motivation, is that you will look at all these things and be told, “Well, you have to change all these things about your diet, about your exercise, about your sleep, about your meditation.” I’m guilty of this too, because in my book, “the PCOS Mood Cure”, I put out an idealized program of what you would be doing if you were doing everything I know how to do to make it better. And having just one thing, like you said, at the beginning of this conversation, one small thing, pick the meditation, pick the sleep, pick a dietary change, like giving up sweet tea or Coke, right? These things have huge effect. It’s a cumulative effect. I was one who went overboard. I definitely was taking 90 supplement pills a day for years on end, which I now say it kind of with shame and embarrassment, but I was again, so desperate to be fixed, and you can’t fix this, you can manage it very well. That would be my insight from personal experiences, that you don’t have to go that far overboard in order to get better.
Farrar Duro 22:10
Yes, and you could definitely see this a lot in our clinic too with our patients bringing bags and bags of supplements. And sometimes they’re like, “I just don’t even know what I’m taking anymore, or why I’m taking it. It’s just too much to list.” and it’s like, Whoa, what’s that doing to your liver? It’s got to make some decisions sometimes. And everything has to pass through that. The first thing we do is just go minimal. Go “Whoa, let’s give us a break just for a while, let’s just see if we could just do maybe even a fraction of those and kind of see where your body because 9 times out of 10 they don’t need all those. But it’s that feeling of “I got to take this because it’s going to help with this.” And then they see something else well, and it becomes a source of stress. Also just looking at all those pills every day.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 22:59
Yes, that actually leads us to another thing that’s really an interesting thing, which is more and more in psychology. Now we have an awareness of the fact that there is a gut brain connection. Most of your serotonin, which is like the feel good neurotransmitter in your brain, it’s like the happy chemical is produced in your gut 85-90% of it. If something’s wrong in your gut, and by gut I mean gas, bloating, cramping, pain, diarrhea, constipation, all of that kind of stuff. And that is much, much higher in women with PCOS, seems like what a surprise now, right? We have more of this. We have more of that. But this is a big deal. Because if you are, for example, responding to your cravings for carbohydrates and eating carbohydrates, carbohydrates, carbohydrates, you are negatively affecting your insulin resistance, your insulin response that causes your brain to kind of have a little freakout. It’s like, wait a minute, where’s the glucose coming from? We need glucose to function crave more carbs give more energy, right. And it’s this whole horrible, vicious cycle. I think that it is important to pay attention to all of these things. Not everything. Not every symptom is connected to PCOS. I’m the first one to say that, but it is definitely a whole body condition. When it’s gut issues, when its skin issues, when it’s hair issues, when it’s mood issues, it is linked to PCOS.
Farrar Duro 24:34
Yes. And I feel like we all have this internal barometer. Or maybe it’s just me picturing it this way. But if I go too much on the carb side, I can start to feel this like irritability kicking in and my glucose not cooperating. I get kind of like the hangriness that comes from that. So it’s like, “Nope, I didn’t balance my protein out well today. That it’s not good.” This is something that I go through every day. And I think so many women do. Like, if you start to record your moods, as it relates to your foods, I think then you starting to realize, maybe if I, especially as a teenager, like not eating very well, then all just goes haywire, there’s just too much to chance there. If there’s one thing I always say to start with, it’s it is getting protein because it seems to balance everything else out.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 25:35
What’s really important with protein and your mood is that your neurotransmitters are created from the amino acids and protein, you need all of your neurotransmitters to be in balance and firing appropriately in order to have a good even mood. Protein in good quantity and good quality, I think is really important for mood stabilization as well. Also, when you’re getting enough protein, you are not going to crave carbs in the same way. It’s kind of a twofer, have your protein and get an extra benefit out of it. Because and this is something where it’s, it’s again, that overwhelm, it’s like I don’t know what to eat anymore. If you look at all the dietary recommendations that are out there, no one can agree on anything, maybe except that we should be drinking filtered water and eating organic dark, leafy greens. Everything else is subject to massive debate.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 26:37
Okay, you can’t live on filtered water, organic, dark, leafy greens, you just can’t. Besides that, it would be really boring. I am all about maintaining pleasure in life. I love food, and I’m very passionate about it. I always want everybody to be happy with their food, because it’s something we do three times a day at least. It’s a big deal if you’re not happy with your food. I think that’s also a big part of what contributes to the misery when I see people as they come in. And they say, I’ve been eating enough about protein and produce, and I exercise three hours a day, and I still weighed 258 pounds. That is torture. There’s nothing wrong with protein and produce, I love protein and produce. However, there are other foods in life. Everyone has culture that they’re part of, it may be that you want those tamales at Christmas, or I want strudel or something like that, right. To make some room in your life for moderation, rather than the extremes is also a way of giving yourself a break and a stress relief when you’re dealing with this, because again, very few people can handle…I had an acupuncturist. Once this guy ate boiled chicken breast for breakfast. It kind of makes me ill to think about it!
Farrar Duro 28:04
I’ve heard of that. But I don’t know. I don’t think I’d have the stomach for it.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 28:09
I know I don’t have the stomach for it. But this is a recommendation he was doing it. Why couldn’t I do it?It works for him. He was really buff. Well, guess what? I was nauseous, getting buff was not happening from eating chicken breasts for breakfast. Taking all advice with a grain of salt. There are lots of experts out there. We’ve got coaches and dietitians and everybody else, right? We all know something that is helpful. But part of what I want to do is ask you to drop into your body, and just sort of listen to your own gut and think about what feels right to you. Not in this moment, not something where you’re jumping on it, like you were saying with the supplements, the way I ended up on 90 supplements a day it’s out of control, right? Was because I was doing my research, and it’s like, oh, chromium is good for this. And cinnamon is good for that. And quercetin. And the next thing you know, I’m spending $400 to $500 a month. And by the way, we don’t know any of the quality stuff, except for a handful of supplement companies. That’s just an aside.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 29:30
But yes, it’s tough on your liver, a lot of us are already dealing with non alcoholic fatty liver disease anyway, and adding all those supplements is just stressing out your poor tired little liver even more. We don’t know all the side effects profiles of all of these things. I’ve done a lot in my book, there’s a whole appendix about supplements and how they connect into mood and psychological symptoms. I want again, for people to figure that out for themselves. One of the things, and I offer this, to everyone who’s listening to the podcast is I have a food and mood log or worksheet, you can print it out photocopy and use one for the day, see how you feel when you are getting almost no water, or drinking six cups of caffeine or your whole day was carbs or you only once right, it’s important to start seeing the patterns. I think it’s really easy to not pay attention to the patterns. Having a simple tool like that is something that is very helpful to get you oriented around it. At this point, I’ve been doing this for so long, I can tell you the carb count of anything and everything by glancing at it, I know precisely how my macros are working out for the day, although I don’t really count things that way, because I think it’s too precise, and it contributes to some of the stress and strain. By the way, as with everything more people with PCOS have obsessive compulsive disorder that can really be compounded by overly tracking. I’ve seen women who are spending an hour a day calculating the grams of fat, the grams of carbs in their food, and the body is a precision instrument, but it’s not that precise, your body’s really not going to care if you eat that apricots at 12 o’clock or two o’clock, generally speaking. Taking out some of that stress, too, I think is really helpful again, there’s just no perfect way to do this PCOS thing.
Farrar Duro 31:36
For sure, definitely, all we can do is just really go from what’s worked and our experience and what works with our patients and know that the sense of community is important. Finding those groups out there that are more positively inclined. And, instead of with negative slant is so important, and we have so much resources, it’s an advantage of, but definitely find something that you are comfortable with, that you enjoy going into, that’s not going to cause you more depression actually being part of that group. There are Facebook groups that are wonderful. And there’s some that you know, just can bring you down in some ways, which I know that’s not the intention for sure. But just be careful where your attention goes.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 32:23
That is an excellent piece of advice. I created a group that’s called PCOS Psychology, which is on Facebook, and it’s a free group. Anyone can join it. And I really do focus on positive psychology, helpfulness, motivation, moderation, inspiration, it’s a place to check in about what’s going on what’s stressing you out, but I really cultivate a positive forward moving tone and direction to it. I think it is important to grieve the losses that go with PCOS, whether that is infertility, miscarriages, having a perfect body, or even the idea of having a healthy body is out of reach for a lot of us. But it is something where you can still enjoy your life and be relatively healthy. Even with multiple diagnoses, like I’m one who, because of how things were handled back then, I was diagnosed with early onset type two diabetes, I was diagnosed at 32. I’m pretty sure I had it for a couple of years before that. And it’s something that even when I was being treated by an endocrinologist before that, because I was having a very bad hypoglycemia or low blood sugars, which can wreak havoc on your mood. No one told me, oh, this is a precursor to diabetes, if your blood sugar regulation mechanism is broken, as it clearly was, you have to watch out and be really careful, or you’re going to end up with diabetes.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 33:57
Right, and had no idea despite having the right kinds of doctors at that time. And so it’s something where there’s been this extra burden for the last 20 plus years of dealing with having diabetes, and all of these things as the diagnoses pile up. I’m sure as you know, 40% of women over 40 have hypothyroidism, which is a very common thing that goes along with PCOS. For some people, it’s no big deal. I’m one of the lucky ones, I take my little pill, I’m fine. For other people, though, it’s this huge life altering thing, just to have the hypothyroidism. The other part of this is, not being overly focused on the PCOS, always, there are other legitimate medical problems that pop up that are not necessarily caused by PCOS. Sometimes those things can get neglected because the PCOS is, it’s kind of muddy waters, you know, if you were diagnosed with a certain type of breast cancer, there would be a few very specific treatment options for it. And you would consult the experts and pick your treatment, and do what you need to do. It’s just not that same way with PCOS. So again, this idea of customizing and really being kind to yourself in this process, because I think a lot of the information that comes in is kind of harsh in terms of what we’re told to do. You never can eat carbs again, as long as you live. Okay, well, guess what? Vegetables are carbs. Yes, it’s true. Half a cup of cooked vegetables has about five grams of carbs, not to ruin your life today. But this is what I mean by information that is clouded. It’s convoluted, and it may not even be correct. I think we can all agree that vegetables, our good friend. So that’s where I want you to really learn for yourself. What’s true for you? How does it make your body feel? Do you have a gag reflex when you eat spinach? Maybe that’s not a good vegetable for you.
Farrar Duro 36:15
Yes, for sure…I guess what works for some person, maybe doesn’t work for you. I think that’s so important. Definitely, I’d love to talk about your book just for a moment, if you can, what you mentioned briefly, but tell us a little bit about what’s there and what we could find when we’re reading your book.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 36:40
Sure. So first, the name of the book is “The PCOS Mood Cure, Your Guide to Ending the Emotional Roller Coaster”, you can find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It’s available in electronic and print format. And what it’s designed as is…one is to connect the dots between the psychological side of PCOS and the physical side. It’s also a strong focus on “Do It Yourself PCOS Care.” There are chapters on how to improve your sleep, which is critically important for managing your PCOS, meditation, the right kinds of exercise, a diet that is focused on plant based foods, healthy clean proteins, good carbs, and definitely chocolate, dark chocolate is a health food.
Farrar Duro 37:29
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 37:30
It’s got a lot of magnesium in it, which is really good for your brain, for your mood, calming and for sleep. It’s also advice about how to find a good PCOS healthcare team. And like I said, I think there’s about 25 pages long, that is going into some depth on all the different supplements that probably have come across your radar, when you are looking at PCOS. That’s a starting point on some of those sessions months. And it’s got a lot of practical information about, probably 100 things you can do to improve your sleep, for example, which is one of my favorite topics. because realistically, who doesn’t want to get a little more sleep? Definitely. I feel like that’s very easy homework. Yes, not for everyone. But not having enough sleep or not having good quality sleep is a big problem in terms of mood issues. Depression and anxiety also causes you to eat more. If that’s an issue for you, you need to know that more sleep is probably going to help. That’s what the book is about. It’s really intended to be a guide for parents of teens, patients, other therapists, dietitians, doctors, anybody that wants to get a really comprehensive view of things, but of course, it’s heavy on the mental health side of things.
Farrar Duro 38:53
Well, that’s so needed. And I’m very excited to check that out. And I hope all of you will too. Dr. Gretchen, I really we appreciate you sharing your time with us. And I’ll definitely link to what we discussed, how to contact you and all of that in our show notes. If you could just maybe tell our listeners a parting piece of guidance you’d like them to have. What would that be?
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 39:18
My number one bit of advice really would be to be kind to yourself, give yourself time to engage in learning about PCOS in a way that makes sense to you. Whether it’s reading a book, watching videos, listening to podcasts like this, get a lot of information. You don’t have to be reactive, knee jerk reactions are going to take you down the path like I won’t, we’re ended up on the 90 supplements, and with literally probably 100 doctors. Slow steady wins the race. That’s my best PCOS advice.
Farrar Duro 39:57
I love it. Thank you so much. I hope you guys enjoy that as much as I have. I will be catching you guys next week with a new episode. Until then take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself. Thank you so much, Dr. Gretchen for coming on.
Dr. Gretchen Kubacky 40:15
Thank you so much. I really appreciate the opportunity to share all this.
Farrar Duro 40:19
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
- Learn more about Dr. Gretchen Kubacky at drgretchenkubacky.com
- Check out pcoswellness.com
- Join the Facebook group PCOS Psychology
- Read the PCOS Mood Cure
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