(Reuters Health) – The prevalence of depression and anxiety among patients with polycystic ovary syndrome is high and warrants routine screening and aggressive treatment, investigators report in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

In a previous study, Dr. Anuja Dokras, at the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues identified high rates of depression (35 percent) among women with PCOS, substantially higher than the 10.7 percent rate among the comparison subjects. The current report is a follow-up to that study to determine the persistence of mood disorders and the incidence of new mood disorders.

Sixty of the original 103 women participated in the second survey, conducted an average of 22 months after the first survey.

The prevalence of depression increased to 40 percent. Fifteen percent had panic syndrome or other anxiety disorder, and 23 percent had binge-eating disorder. Fifty-seven percent (34) of the study subjects were affected by at least one mental health disorder.

The authors note that there were 11 new cases of depression. Of the 20 subjects diagnosed with depression at the early assessment, 5 (25 percent) still had major depressive disorder, despite ongoing treatment.

“The high prevalence rate of depression and persistence of new cases in this population suggests that initial evaluation of all women with PCOS should also include assessment of mental health disorders,” Dokras and associates advise.

They recommend that physicians administer the Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders Patient Health Questionnaire (PRIME-MD PHQ) to their PCOS patients because it screens for eating disorders and anxiety, as well as depression.

They also suggest that patients be referred to dermatology and for weight loss counseling, since hirsutism, acne, and excess weight associated with PCOS may contribute to the emotional problems.