The Pills Impact On The Brain
Although it has been on the market for more than 50 years, relatively few studies have looked into hormonal birth controls effects on the brain. A 2014 study in Frontiers in Neurosciencedelved into the existing science and found that taking the Pill alters neurotransmitter function and causes structural changes in the brain, including changes in the prefrontal cortex , anterior cingulate gyrus , cerebellum , and parahippocampus .
Although the researchers didnt offer an interpretation of whatthese changes mean, it appears that the longer you take the Pill the morepronounced the differences are. And their findings suggest that some of these changesmay not be entirely reversible even if you stop taking the Pill.
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Can Birth Control Help Mental Health
In addition to treating depression symptoms associated with conditions such as premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder , hormonal birth control can also help relieve anxiety. Birth control can help people manage and even improve their moods and overall mental health, for many of them. Sex can suffer from stress.
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.
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The Connection Between Birth Control And Depression
While these statistics may be interesting and helpful when you’re deciding what form of birth control is right for you, it’s important to remember that this is an associative study. Meaning, the research can’t definitely conclude that birth control causes depression it simply shows that there’s some link between the two.
This distinction is important for a few reasons, says Anisha Patel-Dunn, D.O., chief medical officer at LifeStance Health. First of all, researchers in this study only knew that a contraceptive user was depressed if they sought out medical treatment. And thus, there could be more folks living with depression who simply aren’t represented in these statistics. Plus, depression affects about one in 15 adults each year per the APA, so researchers can’t single out birth control as the factor that’s causing depression. “Because so many women are using birth control, we would still expect to see that same prevalence but whether it’s because of the birth control or not, is unclear,” says Dr. Patel-Dunn.
She also points out that a 1999 study from Harvard published in JAMA Psychiatry found that women with a history of depression were more likely to experience mood worsening when on oral conception than those birth-control users with no history of depression, which is something to keep in mind if you have a similar health history. Although, it’s important to note that this study was conducted on a fairly small sample size of around 700 people.
The Pill And Where It Came From
At first, the pill was only prescribed to women with severe menstrual issues, and it was not until 1969 that it became legal to prescribe the pill for contraceptionthat was only 50 years ago!
Reported side effects of the first pill included headaches, nausea, dizziness, and blood clots. But most importantly, side effects of the pill also included a lack of full disclosure and a large lack of relevant research on the psychological effects of the pill.
Since the 1960s, the information available on birth control options has grown, as have birth control options available to women, but knowledge gaps and misinformation surrounding birth control remains prevalent. With the new options available an even wider array of birth control side effects exist. Hopefully, these risks are being more readily researched and openly discussed. The sad truth is, research on the pill was often written in a way that dismissed its effects on womens mental health the misinformation persists today.
So, lets dig into the underreported emotional side effects of hormonal birth control in the form of the contraceptive pill. Just as a note, other forms of hormonal birth control apart from the pill include, the NuvaRing, the Patch, Nexplanon , and hormonal IUDs . Though the side effects of all these birth control options vary, hormonal birth control is often associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety.
Would Swapping Birth Control Methods Make A Difference
Changing birth control may alleviate feelings of anxiety. But theres a chance it could make little difference.
If you begin to experience anxiety or other mood changes, you can consider switching to a nonhormonal form of contraception. The list includes:
- copper IUD
for people who are worried theyll forget to take a pill or apply a patch.
Your doctor can guide you down the best path.
If you want to stop taking hormonal contraception, its entirely your choice.
But Lakhani advises never coming off your birth control without consulting with your doctor first.
Ask them the following:
- Can I get pregnant straight away?
- What side effects might I experience?
- What should I use for contraception now?
Some methods, like the pill and patch, can be stopped immediately. Others, like the implant, will need to be removed by a healthcare provider.
Something to consider: Its good practice to not stop the pill or patch in the middle of your pack. Doing so can cause irregular bleeding.
The hormones from birth control should exit your body within a few days.
Stopping any kind of hormonal birth control can have an impact on both your body and mind.
You may find that your menstrual cycle becomes irregular, or that your mood changes.
You may also experience symptoms your contraception was helping to manage, like painful periods and acne.
None of the side effects should be too severe. Many will right themselves as your body gets back to its usual hormone production.
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
What Are The Complications Of Pmdd
Untreated PMDD can lead to depression and, in severe cases, suicide. The disorder can cause severe emotional distress and negatively affect relationships and careers.
If youre experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255. This national network of local crisis centers provides 24/7 free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
Risk Of Depression With Hormonal Birth Control Small But Real
All forms of hormonal contraception were associated with an increased risk of developing depression, with higher risks associated with the progesterone-only forms, including the IUD. This risk was higher in teens ages 15 to 19, and especially for non-oral forms of birth control such as the ring, patch and IUD. That the IUD was particularly associated with depression in all age groups is especially significant, because traditionally, physicians have been taught that the IUD only acts locally and has no effects on the rest of the body. Clearly, this is not accurate.
Should we stop prescribing hormonal birth control? No. Its important to note that while the risk of depression among women using hormonal forms of birth control was clearly increased, the overall number of women affected was small. Approximately 2.2 out of 100 women who used hormonal birth control developed depression, compared to 1.7 out of 100 who did not. This indicates that only some people will be susceptible to this side effect. Which ones, we dont know. But I plan to discuss this possibility with every patient when Im counseling them about birth control, just as I would counsel about increased risk of blood clots and, for certain women, breast cancer. In the end, every medication has potential risks and benefits. As doctors, we need to be aware of these so we can counsel effectively.
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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.
The Pill And Copper Toxicity/ Copper Overload
Copper overload has become increasingly common problem, due in part to the widespread use of oral contraceptives containing estrogen Other health conditions associated with copper overload include things like acne, allergies, Candida overgrowth, hypothyroidism, anemia, hair loss, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, migraines and male infertility. The reason that copper is linked with such a long and varied list of conditions is that copper is absolutely essential to the proper functioning of your
#1 Immune system
#2 Endocrine system, and
#3 Nervous system.
Copper is a co-factor in the chemical reaction which converts dopamine to norepinephrine. So if you look here at the dopamine pathway, when you have to much copper
You will have more norepinephrine and epinephrine . We have all heard of adrenaline- Adrenaline can cause feelings of agitation, anxiety and panic, overstimulation, racing thoughts, restlessness, and insomnia.
In other words, it revs up the nervous system into a state of overdrive or the fight vs flight response. Couple of things I want to show you here, because you may be thinking that this only affects women who are using a copper IUDs.
If we look at this study that comes from European Journal of Clinical Nutrition- we can see that elevated copper levels were found in ALL users of ALL types of oral contraceptives. Not some users but in all users!
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You Might Gain Or Lose Weight
Not everyone loses weight when they stop taking the Pill. Some gain a few pounds. Research shows that a third of women who stop taking oral contraception lose weight, a third gain weight, and a third stay exactly the same, says Dr. Dweck.
If the scale goes down, its most likely water weight, since being on the Pill can cause water retention. But remember: Losing water weight isnt the same as losing fat, so any lost pounds likely wont last.
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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.
Can Birth Control Cause Mood Swings
We all know someone who swears that birth control completely wrecked their mood. Whether it was making them feel anxious, depressed, angry or like a crazy, jealous mad woman, theres no denying theres a link between birth control and mood swings or mood changes.
And maybe you were one of those people. I know I was.
When I was a teenager, my doctor put me on birth control pills. These made me feel depressed and I honestly had days where I didnt even recognize who I was anymore. But despite my insistence that the pill was the cause of my mood swings, my doctor assured me that there was no link.
Fast forward to me now. A doctor who works with women every day in my medical practice to undo the effects that hormonal birth control causes. Because it is real. Women come to me with new onset of depression, anxiety and mood swings after starting hormonal birth control. And I listen to their stories of how the pill or other synthetic hormones have created a huge disruption in their life.
Ive had patients tell me stories about completely falling out of love with their husband or partner after starting birth control.
Many women report lacking all motivation and joy, losing interest in hobbies and feeling like birth control robbed them of their mental edge at work.
And there are the women who feel disconnectedfrom their child, their friends, even themselves.
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Do Hormonal Contraceptives Affect The Brains Functionality
A study reviewing 33 articles of the effect of hormonal contraception to both the structure and functionality of the brain has concluded that there is a possibility that it negatively affects brain structure and function such as cognitive abilities, motivation, emotion processing, fear, anxiety, and stress .
Can Birth Control Help Depression And Anxiety
Birth control that includes hormonal birth control can cause mood swings and other emotional side effects for some women. It may be helpful to make changes, such as easing your anxiety or crankiness. Some women, however, report feeling depressed or experiencing such a severe emotional roller coaster that they stopped taking hormonal contraceptives.
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What If You Already Have Depression
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization guidelines put no restrictions on the use of any type of birth control for people who have depression . The use of combined hormonal birth control, the hormonal IUD, implant, and the shot is not associated with worsening of symptoms among people with depression or bipolar disorder . One study actually showed less depressive symptoms among combined hormonal birth control users compared to people not using hormonal methods .
There arenât believed to be any interactions between SSRIs , which are commonly prescribed for depression, and hormonal contraception . The CDC puts no restriction on the use of any hormonal birth control for people who are taking SSRIs .
Other supplements and medications used for depression, such as tricyclic antidepressants, bupropion, and St. Johnâs Wort may interact with hormonal contraception .
Itâs important to speak with your healthcare provider about what supplements and medications you are taking and whether there are possible interactions with hormonal birth control.