Endometriosis impacts mental, as well as physical, health.
Endometriosis, commonly known as endo, is caused by the tissue lining the uterus, the endometrium, growing outside the uterus and is characterized by pelvic pain, fatigue, nausea, and irregular bowel movements. For a long time, endometriosis was a condition that was often misdiagnosed and the pain it caused was often assumed to be an overreaction on the patient’s part. Most patients didn’t receive the medical attention they needed and were often treated only for the symptoms, which was usually only through the application of pain management methods.
In the past decade, awareness of endo has grown considerably, especially since there has been an increase in targeted campaigns and celebrities speaking about their experiences. This has forced the world to take a deep, hard look into the condition, its causes, and the treatment methods available. Unfortunately, very little is known of the condition with no definite answer to its cause or treatment. In fact, the treatment of endo still remains as pain management with the addition of surgery, whether conservative or otherwise, and additional medication such as hormone therapy, neither of which offer a 100% guarantee of symptom improvement.
Nevertheless, while it is a very important step for women around the world and the medical community, the effects of endometriosis on a patient’s mental health have been severely overlooked.
The pain that a person experiences when they have endo can be one of the most stressful experiences, and it can affect one’s quality of life significantly. What’s more, the painful episodes can be triggered by stress, while also being the source of the stress, leading to a vicious cycle.
There’s also an associated fear that comes with endometriosis. The fear of being called crazy or that one’s worries will be dismissed as an exaggeration, as well as the fear that comes with the uncertainty of not knowing what is wrong, the fear of pain, and the fear of the disease ultimately taking a person’s life.
There’s also anxiety associated with endometriosis that affects patients significantly, especially when the condition adversely affects their social life. Diagnosis may provide relief in most cases but for those with endo, it is just the beginning of a battle to understand this condition. Even worse is when health professionals don’t have an accurate grasp of the condition and fail to anticipate the problems that may arise even after surgical treatment.
Ultimately, the fact that the medical community is placing some focus on endometriosis is a good thing. However, it would be even better if there was also a focus on the impact of endo on mental health. In the meantime, patients with this condition can seek help in endometriosis communities online.
Mental health concerns are a serious issue that need to be dealt with in an urgent fashion. However, before the medical community catches up, women around the world will still be dealing with the stress, anxiety, depression, and isolation brought about by endometriosis. Therefore, it is up to individuals to find a mental health specialist to address any concerns.