Anxiety and depression in polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Hum Reprod. 2011 Sep;26(9):2442-51. doi: 10.1093/humrep/der197. Epub 2011 Jul 1.


Background: Our aim was to assess differences in anxiety and depression between women with and without (controls) polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Methods: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of published literature comparing women with PCOS to control groups on anxiety and depression. Electronic databases were searched up to 17 December 2010. The inverse variance method based, as appropriate, on a random- or fixed-effects model in Review Manager, Version 5 was used to analyse the data.

Results: Twelve comparative studies were included; all studies assessed depression (910 women with PCOS and 1347 controls) and six also assessed anxiety (208 women with PCOS and 169 controls). Analysis revealed higher depression (Z = 17.92, P < 0.00001; Hedges' g = 0.82; 95% CI 0.73-0.92) and anxiety (Z = 5.03, P < 0.00001; Hedges' g = 0.54; 95% CI 0.33-0.75) scores in the participants with, than without, PCOS. Studies controlling for BMI showed a smaller difference between women with PCOS and controls on anxiety and depression scores than studies not controlling for BMI.

Conclusions: Women with PCOS on average tend to experience mildly elevated anxiety and depression, significantly more than women without PCOS. Women with PCOS with lower BMI tended to have slightly lower anxiety and depression scores, suggesting that having a lower BMI reduces anxiety and depression. Future studies might consider (i) controlling for BMI, (ii) stratifying by medication use in order to control for any anti-androgenic effects of medication and (iii) excluding women with polycystic ovaries from control groups.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / psychology*