What Birth Control Methods Are We Talking About
When it comes to adverse effects, the pill is often the first contraceptive method that springs to mind.
But theres a link between anxiety and all forms of hormonal contraception, says Dr. Enam Abood from Londons Harley Street Health Centre.
A found hormonal contraceptive users had higher rates of anxiety than nonusers.
And a noted that users of IUDs containing the hormone levonorgestrel also had higher anxiety rates.
But the pill seems to have been the focus of more research than other methods.
Combination oral contraceptives and progesterone-only minipills are usually associated with depression and anxiety more than other options of birth control, Lakhani says.
However, the review did conclude that non-oral combined hormonal contraceptive methods may result in fewer mood changes.
There are a few simple reasons.
First, there isnt enough research into the mental and emotional effects of hormonal birth control.
Second, the research that does exist has produced conflicting results .
And third: All of the above, plus varying research methods, has meant its impossible to prove cause and effect.
In other words, researchers are currently uncertain. Its likely to remain that way until more studies are carried out.
If you have a personal history of anxiety or mood disorders, you may be more prone to the emotional effects of birth control.
This hasnt been fully proven, but it is a theory put forward
When To See A Doctor About Your Birth Control’s Side Effects
The majority of these birth control side effects should subside after a few months, but Dr. Roskin recommends booking an appointment with your health-care provider if your side effects are severe and don’t ease up or worsen. If the spotting is extreme or hasn’t gotten better after two to three cycles, or if your nausea has lasted longer than a week even if you’ve taken your oral contraceptive with a large meal or before bed you’ll want to see your doctor ASAP, says Dr. Yen.
Unless you’re dealing with those intense side effects, both Dr. Roskin and Dr. Yen recommend sticking with a new birth control for at least two to three months so your body can get used to the contraceptive. If you’re still experiencing some lingering side effects or simply don’t feel your best after that time period, don’t be afraid to talk with your provider about changing contraceptives. “You should consult your doctor when considering changing birth control methods to find an alternative that is right for you and to ensure that you are protected against pregnancy while making the switch,” says Dr. Roskin.
Ready To Take Control Of Your Cycle
So many people feel like theyre at the mercy of their menstrual cycle lacking the roadmap to effectively navigate their moments of melancholy and bursts of inspiration.
Armed with more information, we hope to put power back in the hands of people everywhere who are adversely affected by their menstrual cycles and hormonal contraceptives.
The Daily Cycle Diary is not therapeutic in nature or design, and it isnt suitable as a form of psychological treatment. If you are concerned about your wellbeing and your menstrual cycle, please see your GP or consult with an , including Lifeline.
To join the Daily Cycle Diary as a member of the general public, visit this link to register or contact at the Evolution, Conflict and Equality Laboratory in the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences for more information.
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The Vicious Cycle Of Anxiety And Hormones
Your body produces stress hormones in response to a threat or fear, These steroid hormones help you cope and prepare for action. If there is nothing to act on, you are left feeling anxious. Not only does stress hormone production cause anxiety in and of itself, but it can decrease production of testosterone, which can also cause anxiety. And since testosterone partially controls the release of cortisol, lowered testosterone levels can set off a rise in cortisol production. The combined effect is a vicious cycle of anxiety.
Should Women With History Of Depression Avoid Hormonal Birth Control
Studies are still not clear if hormonal birth control pills make depressive symptoms worse in women.
For instance, the 2017 Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that depression is not considered as a contraindication to hormonal contraceptives for women suffering from depression, citing a lack of enough evidence to prove the relationship between the two.
The CDC, along with the World Health Organization, also added that the use of combined hormonal birth control, the implant, the IUD, and the shot is not linked to worsening depressive symptoms among people who were previously diagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder.
In contrast, a different study concluded that women who take progesterone-only minipills or combination oral contraceptives were more likely to receive prescriptions for an antidepressant compared to women who did not use these types of contraceptives.
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What Causes Hormonal Imbalance
Your hormones have to work together in balance to help your body thrive. However, hormone ups and downs in women are very common, so if you feel that you have a hormonal imbalance, you are not alone.
Doctors from WebMD say that some of the common causes of an imbalance in hormone production in women are pre-menstrual syndrome, pregnancy, and the menopause. However, other lifestyle factors can cause hormones to fluctuate. Being overweight, not getting enough exercise, or a lack of sleep can all throw your hormones off balance.3
Other reasons for hormone fluctuations are an underactive thyroid that doesnt produce enough thyroxine . Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that hypothyroidism can leave you feeling lethargic, cause changes in your menstrual system, or make it difficult to lose weight.4
Also, diabetes is a common cause of hormonal imbalances and can affect, not just the insulin hormone, but also other blood sugar-related hormones, sex hormones, and growth hormones.5
Hormonal Birth Control And Depression: Is There A Link
Hormonal birth control comes in many forms. It includes the pill, the implant, the intrauterine device , the patch, the shot, as well as the vaginal ring.
These forms of hormonal contraceptives use hormones to prevent pregnancy.
But can these methods of birth control really alleviate symptoms of depression?
This has been a cause for worry on the copper IUD Paragard.
Even though this birth control device does not make use of hormones, recently filed complaints in the Paragard lawsuit have mainly spoken of the device being prone to breaking inside the body of the woman who had it implanted, in some rare and severe cases, side effects and injuries were not the only worries that women had after using Paragard.
For instance, once the birth control device breaks, its pieces can become embedded so deeply into the womans tissue to the point that a hysterectomy or removal of the uterus is necessary.
Side effects and injuries may be painful, but additional surgeries that may burden patients not only with a permanent injury but also with additional costs from medical procedures may ultimately lead to devastating psychological consequences which can affect someones overall quality of life.
Heres the thing: hormones are quite complicated.
For instance, a 2016 study of over a million women in Denmark found that there is an increased risk of depression linked to different types of hormonal contraception.
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Oral Contraceptives Raise Cortisol Levels And Impact Your Stress Response:
When your baseline cortisol level goes up, your body becomes primed for stress. It can cause increased anxiety, trouble sleeping, and more feelings of overwhelm. Over time, this can also contribute to changes in lipids , and glucose metabolism causing abdominal weight gain.
Studies have shown the following:
- Oral contraceptives elevate circulating cortisol levels .
- There are consequences of high cortisol such as raised triglyceride levels .
- Women taking oral contraceptives show smaller hippocampal volume .
- Oral contraceptive usage substantially modifies cortisol effects on emotional learning in women, particularly in memory-related medial temporal lobe regions .
The most common presentation for these effects is an increase in general anxiety.
The impact on hippocampal volume is however, is particularly concerning. The hippocampus plays an important role in the limbic system, and is involved in the formation of new memories, and also associated with learning and emotions. Hippocampus volume shrinks with chronic high stress, PTSD, alcoholism, and more . Having a smaller hippocampal volume is also associated with depressive behaviour, and poor stress tolerance .
Why Do People Quit Birth Control
Aside from trying to get pregnant, some women stop taking hormonal contraception because of how it makes them feel. One of the biggest side effects and most talked about is hormonal birth controls negative effect on libido .
Another commonly cited side effect of hormonal birth control is its effect on mood, anxiety, and depression. Anxiety and depression have been shown to fluctuate when women take hormonal birth control . But its difficult to say whether those changes are due to birth control or other external factors that can impact mental health .
If youre experiencing any of these side effects, quitting hormonal birth control might provide you with relief.
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Is This Anxiety Im Feeling
When youre anxious, you most likely will experience some of the following:
You cant get any Zzzs.
Anxiety and sleep is inextricably linked, and insomnia or trouble sleeping is one of the most obvious signs youre suffering from anxiety. Are you having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Anxiety could be to blame.
Youre feeling unexplainably scared.
Youve heard of the flight-or-fight response, right? Well, it goes into high gear when youre anxious. Why? Your fear switch is turned on. Fear is at the core of stress and can become a vicious cycle: youre anxious and suddenly everything becomes scary and stressful, and because everything is scary and stressful, you become anxious, and because youre anxious, everything is scary and stressfulyou get the idea. When youre anxious, youll feel like you’re constantly running from lions, even though there are none.
Youre worried about nothing in particular.
Not only are you afraid, youre worried, too. You may begin to worry that you wont get to work on time or that you wont finish a project by the deadline or that your date didnt like you as much as you liked him. These are totally normal worries, but if they become intrusive and start to affect your daily life, they may not be so normal anymore.
Youre getting annoyed with your friends.
You cant stop fidgeting.
Your heart races.
Your tummy hurts.
Anxiety And Birth Control
Everyone gets anxious. Youve definitely felt butterflies on a first date and youve definitely sweat while giving a presentation at work.
Thats totally normal. But sometimes anxiety takes on a life of its own, and suddenly, things arent just butterflies and sweat, theyre something more. If youve just started birth control pills and youre experiencing anxiety, youre not alone. When coupled with the other side effects of birth control, we know how hard these feelings can be to cope with.
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Regular Mental Health Screening Is Needed
However, its also clear that some women who are prescribed hormonal contraceptives will develop low mood.
Although research studies have not unanimously confirmed any direct correlation between hormonal contraception and depression, and often have conflicting findings, in my clinical experience many adolescents and adults may experience depressive symptoms subsequent to starting birth control, says Leela R. Magavi, MD, a Hopkins-trained adult, adolescent, and child psychiatrist and regional medical director for Community Psychiatry, Californias largest outpatient mental health organization.
Is Anxiety A Side Effect Of Birth Control
Medically reviewed by Dr. Betty Acker, MD on November 17, 2020
Birth control, aside from just preventing unwanted pregnancy, can have other effects on the body, some welcome , and some unwelcome. Although most people who take hormonal birth control do not experience unpleasant side effects, there are some who say that it increases their anxiety levels.
There is no solid research supporting the idea that birth control has an adverse impact on anxiety levels or emotional state in general. On the contrary, a 2013 study showed that hormonal birth control use may actually reduce depression among women, and other studies have pointed to the potential benefits that birth control may offer in terms of mood. Birth control keeps hormone levels relatively steady, meaning that women with mood disorders made worse by fluctuating levels of hormones may find that birth control is beneficial for their situation.
However, the relationship between birth control and mental health is very complicated, and no two women will have the exact same experience while taking birth control. If youre worried about how birth control might affect your anxiety levels, here are answers to come common questions you may have:
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No Your Birth Control Wont Cause Depression
Study debunks common myth that hormonal contraceptives cause depression, suicide in women
Women who struggle with mental illness often dont take the most effective birth control methods because they worry the hormones in these contraceptives can trigger depression and suicide, a myth that has been perpetuated by recent studies.
A new Northwestern Medicine study has found hormonal contraceptives the pill, IUDs, vaginal rings, etc. do not cause depression, and women should feel free to choose from the wide variety of effective birth control methods available.
This is a very common concern, said senior author Dr. Jessica Kiley, chief of general obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine gynecologist. For some patients with anxiety disorders, when you discuss a contraceptives potential side effect, they get very worried. Were hoping to encourage women to focus on their contraceptive needs and learn about options that are unlikely to cause depression.
When you review the entirety of the literature and ask, Do hormonal contraceptives cause depression?, the answer is definitely no, said corresponding author Dr. Katherine Wisner, the Norman and Helen Asher Professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the director of the Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders.
My Nightmare On The Pill
Millions of women rely on the contraceptive pill and many are happy with it but some find it has a devastating effect on their mental health. Here Vicky Spratt, deputy editor of The Debrief, describes years of depression, anxiety and panic as she tried one version of the pill after another.
I sat in the GPs office with my mum and told her that Id been having my period for three weeks. She told me that the contraceptive pill might help. She warned that it wouldnt protect me from sexually transmitted infections and told me that if I had unprotected sex I could get cervical cancer, so Id best use it wisely. She had to say that, though I was 14 and sex was very much not on the agenda.
My prescription was printed in reception. And then, a three-month supply of the combined pill was mine. Picking up the green foil-covered packets full of tiny yellow pills felt like a rite of passage I was a woman now. In the plastic pockets was the sugar-coated distillation of feminism, of womens liberation, of medical innovation.
This is where it all began, 14 years ago. I then played what I call pill roulette for more than a decade, trying different brands with varying degrees of success and disaster. It was around this time that I also developed anxiety, depression and serious mood swings which, on and off, have affected me throughout my adult life.
The Debrief carried out an investigation, surveying 1,022 readers, aged 18-30
The pill and depression
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