Can Birth Control Cause Depression Experts Break Down The Correlation
Many people who use birth control experience unpleasant side effects like nausea, breast tenderness, and changes in sex drive. But not all side effects are physical doctors say birth control can also affect your mood, noting that studies have found a correlation between hormonal contraception and depression. So, could your birth control be to blame for your symptoms? Experts say that, while theres a link, its a bit more complicated than that and other factors certainly play a role.
Kim Langdon, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn in Ohio, told POPSUGAR that the hormones in birth control could worsen a mood disorder or unmask a latent depression or anxiety disorder. However, Dr. Langdon explained that its unlikely birth control is the sole cause of depression or anxiety because these conditions are caused by low neurotransmitters in the brain which are influenced by many factors, including genetics.
Theres a complex interaction and balance of serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and norepinephrine, or the happy hormones in the brain, Dr. Langdon said. Low estrogen and testosterone play a role in depression and, as Dr. Langdon explained, even though birth control pills contain hormones, actually lower the overall production of hormones from the ovaries by stopping ovulation. She added that, conversely, too little progesterone is linked to anxiety because progesterone has a sedating or calming effect.
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Some womens vulnerability to anxiety and mood disorders may be explained by their estrogen levels, according to new research by Harvard and Emory University neuroscientists presented in this months issue of Biological Psychiatry.
Low estrogen levels can make women more vulnerable to trauma at some points in their menstrual cycles, while high levels of the female sex hormone can partially protect them from emotional disturbance, the research suggests. Since birth control pills affect estrogen levels, they might one day be used to help prevent post-traumatic stress.
Depression and anxiety disorders are twice as common in women as in men, but the reason for this gender difference is unclear. The new work, reviewed by Harvards Mohammed Milad and colleagues in a commentary, suggests that women are most at risk for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder when their estrogen is low during the menstrual cycle.
PTSD is a disorder of recovery, said author Milad, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital . Men may be less at risk because testosterone, the male sex hormone, is converted into estrogen in the male brain, and so is more stable in their brains than in womens.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Betty Acker, MD on November 17, 2020
How Can Birth Control Help With Pmdd Symptoms
While birth control is typically perceived as only being used for pregnancy prevention, it has numerous health benefits, such as alleviating symptoms of PMS and PMDD. Those that contain a combination of hormones estrogen and progestin are typically recommended for individuals with PMDD.
More specifically, birth control pills that contain ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone are the most helpful for alleviating symptoms in PMDD sufferers. Popular brands that contain this unique combination of hormones include Yaz, Ocella, and Beyaz. However, only Yaz is FDA-approved for treating PMDD, as it has been found to increase the quality of life and day-to-day functioning in individuals who typically suffer from the disorder. Other birth control options that can help treat PMDD include the following:
- Combination pills that contain both Ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel taken continuously
- Contraceptive patches and rings
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What Can You Do If You Feel Like Birth Control Is Messing With Your Mood
Real talks. Think you’re suffering from birth control mood swings and want these to go away? Then it is time for a conversation with your doctor about getting off of them.
Unfortunately, I have not seen a womans mood get better by staying on them. In fact, in my clinical experience, they get a whole lot worse.
And just because you come off these hormones doesn’t mean those symptoms will just magically disappear. In fact, it’s common within post-birth control syndrome to see mood symptoms persist even after stopping these hormones.
If you start a hormonal contraceptive and you see a decline in your mood or anything less than your normal joyous self, it’s time for a conversation with your doctor.
Listen, this is a medication and you can choose to take it or not. But I want to be clear, only a licensed health care practitioner can advise you about birth control medications and devices.
Sorry, not sorry Dr. Google.
If you chat with your doctor and you feel they arent listening, theyre telling you it’s all in your head, or they just arent picking up what youre putting down, then get a second opinion.
Many of my patients have reported being met with a new prescription for a mood-altering medication when they tell their doctor about their new-found mood symptoms since starting hormonal birth control. Layering on another pharmaceutical with even more side effects is not the answer.
Below are some of the ways you can help to improve your mood whilst on birth control:
How Hormones Impact Your Mental Health
There is reason to believe that hormones play a role in depression. Women are about twice as likely as men to have depressionâa difference that begins during puberty . One small study showed that people with depression had lower estrogen levels during the follicular phase . Changes in estrogen levels may explain why some people experience depressive symptoms more frequently in the premenstrual phase, postpartum, and in perimenopause .
When a person uses hormonal birth control, it can change the natural level of hormones in their body and could possibly cause changes to their mental health.
Environmental and societal factors likely affect the risk for depression as well . A family history of mood or psychiatric disorders, adversities in childhood, stressful life events, and social isolation all make it more likely that someone will be diagnosed with major depression .
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What You May Have Heard
You may hear people say hormonal birth control negatively affected their mood, making them feel depressed, anxious, or irritable. You may also hear people say that hormonal birth control improved their mood, making them feel more calm or stable. Of course each personâs bodyâand brainâis unique and their response to hormonal birth control can be different.
Hormonal birth control comes in several forms, including the implant, the intrauterine device , the shot, the pill, the patch, and the ring. Progestin-only hormonal birth control contains just progestin . Combined-hormonal birth control contains both progestin and a form of estrogen.
Several large studies have explored whether there is a connection between different types and formulations of hormonal birth control and changes in mood or mental health with some conflicting results.
A 2016 study of more than one million women in Denmark really brought the possible connection between birth control and mental health to mainstream attention . This study analyzed nationwide health records and showed that hormonal birth control users were more likely to be diagnosed with or treated for depression .
Two large studies in the United States and Finland showed something different. In these studies, people using hormonal birth control of any type reported fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety .
How Can Birth Control Pills Help With Postpartum Depression Symptoms
Birth control may serve as a form of hormone therapy to counteract the drop in estrogen and progestin that occurs following childbirth. However, until more research is done regarding the relationship between birth control and postpartum depression, it can not be concluded that this form of treatment is more effective than others.
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Emotional Side Effects Of Birth Control Pills
The primary emotional side effects cited by those on birth control are anxiety, anger, anddepression. However, the limited research conducted on the subject has led to no conclusive evidence linking birth control and emotional changes. In fact, emotional side effects are not one of the common side effects listed for any form of birth control. The reason some women may experienceemotional side effects when using birth control is due to the introduction of hormones to the body.
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.
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Depression Mood Swings Weight Gain Maddy’s Story
Weight gain, mood swings and severe depression were the main side effects Maddy experienced with going on the pill. As I explain in Beyond the Pill, there are several reasons why we can experience weight gain on hormonal birth control. And there are several studies that have shown a correlation between hormonal birth and depression.
For Maddy, she struggled for years with severe depression after beginning hormonal birth control. It was finally after she met with a therapist who encouraged her to track her cycles that she came off of birth control. Maddy wasn’t totally ready for what came next.
Maddy experienced post-birth control syndrome symptoms and lost her period for a year after discontinuing the pill. Her periods were regular prior to starting hormonal birth control, so this was a new experience for her. But her mood improved in a short period of time. Her mom actually said to her after she came off the pill, wow, we finally got Maddy back!
In the below video, Maddy discusses how dietary shifts helped her get her period back and improve her health overall. I hope you enjoy this discussion and the other Beyond the Pill discussions on my channel.
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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Can Birth Control Cause Anxiety
Medically reviewed by Sophia Yen, MD, MPH Written by Pandia Health Editorial Team. Updated on January 4th, 2021
Use birth control to stabilize your hormones. Get your birth control delivered to your mailbox by signing up for Pandia Healths FREE delivery services of birth control = #PandiaPeaceOfMind.
Did you know you can use birth control to stabilize your hormones? Get your birth control delivered to your mailbox by signing up for Pandia Healths FREE delivery services of birth control = #PandiaPeaceOfMind.
Around 264 million people worldwide suffer from ananxiety disorder. And women are nearly 5 times as likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder than men. Anxiety can cause many significant problems in daily functioning, and severely impact a persons quality of life.
A common question were asked is, Can taking hormonal birth control cause or alleviate the symptoms of anxiety for women? This article will explore what an anxiety disorder is and if birth control has any impact on anxiety.
Can Birth Control Help Treat Depression
Depression does not have a single cause, but rather a combination of genetic, biochemical, and environmental factors. Thankfully, there are several treatment options available, and it may take a combination of techniques to help the depressed individual feel better. For women, in particular, their birth control may play a role in their mental health status. In some cases, it may help alleviate symptoms, but in others, it may exacerbate them. The following article will delve into the relationship between birth control and depression.
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Is Your Birth Control Pill Causing Anxiety And Fatigue
Oral contraceptive use is so common that we sometimes overlook the possible impact it can have on our health and physiology. It is important to recognize some of the possible downstream effects of hormonal contraceptives, especially when dealing with issues like anxiety and fatigue. This also becomes difficult to see, because many women start hormonal contraception in their teens or early 20s, where there are also so many life changes and stresses going on at the same time. Its easy to simply blame life circumstances for how you feel, especially when your symptoms may start slowly, and gradually.
Anxiety and fatigue are two main side-effect that Im looking for when a woman is on hormonal contraception. There may also be other side-effects like bloating, weight gain, headaches or depression. The reason for these side-effects, has to do with nutrient depletion, and a change in the cortisol response to stress.
Get Your Thoughts In Check Through Meditation
Practicing mindful meditation can be extremely helpful in reducing anxiety and dealing with the stress of everyday life. When in touch with your thoughts and breathing, youll be better able to see when emotions relating to anxiety are developing. Then, you can take steps to intervene in the process and regain your emotional control.
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Can Hormonal Birth Control Trigger Depression
- By Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor
Over the years, more than a few patients in my womens health practice have told me that their hormonal birth control the pill, patch, ring, implant, injection, or IUD made them feel depressed. And its not just my patients: several of my friends have felt the same way. And its not just me who has noticed this decades of reports of mood changes associated with these hormone medications have spurred multiple research studies.
While many of these did not show a definitive association, a critical review of this literature revealed that all of it has been of poor quality, relying on iffy methods like self-reporting, recall, and insufficient numbers of subjects. The that it was impossible to draw any firm conclusions from the research on this birth control and depression.
Are Certain Forms Of Birth Control More Likely To Cause Anxiety And/or Depression
In 2022, contraceptive choices are abundant. From oral contraceptives to IUDs to patches, there’s no shortage of ways to protect against unwanted pregnancy. But if you’re wondering which type of contraceptive will have the lightest touch on your mental health, the jury is still out on that as well , says Dr. Tello.
“Most studies that have analyzed the relationship between birth control and depression have focused on hormonal birth control like birth control pills and non-copper IUDs, the NuvaRing, and the birth control patch because of the two hormones â progestin and estrogen â that hormonal birth control contains,” she explains. “Research findings on ties between hormonal IUDs â like other forms of hormonal birth control â and depression are mixed. However, the majority of people who use a hormonal IUD don’t develop depression,” adds Dr. Roskin. While some scientific studies have linked levonorgestrel, the synthetic progestin hormone emitted by the IUD, with mood swings and negative moods, the Mayo Clinic does not name any mental health conditions as side effects to levonorgestrel. Again, if it feels like there’s contradicting research here , it’s because the research isn’t yet air-tight.
Still, your feelings are valid and those gut instincts matter. So if you start to suspect that your birth control may be causing or contributing to a depressive state â or an altered mood of any kind â talk to your doctor.
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When To See A Doctor About Your Birth Controls 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 dont ease up or worsen. If the spotting is extreme or hasnt gotten better after two to three cycles, or if your nausea has lasted longer than a week even if youve taken your oral contraceptive with a large meal or before bed youll want to see your doctor ASAP, says Dr. Yen.
Unless youre 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 youre still experiencing some lingering side effects or simply dont feel your best after that time period, dont 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.