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Does Birth Control Help With Depression

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Birth Control Pill May Relieve Pms Depression

Postpartum Depression

Study Shows Oral Contraceptives May Help Curb Mood Swings From Premenstrual Syndrome

May 25, 2005 — Many women with premenstrual syndrome mood problems worry that birth control pills may increase their sensitivity to hormonal changes that make them feel down and out. Now researchers say the opposite may actually be true.

A study suggests taking oral contraceptives for as little as two months can curb PMS-related depression — even in women not getting relief from standard antidepressantmedications.

“Many women fear that the birth control pill can make you depressed, but we found it’s actually helpful,” says researcher Hadine Joffe, MD, director of endocrine studies in the perinatal and reproductive psychiatry clinical research program at Harvard Medical School.

That’s an “important finding,” says Jovita Crasta, MD, chief of community psychiatry at South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, N.Y.

“Even one small study that shows that hormones will not cause depression will help women to stay on their birth control,” she tells WebMD.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.

The study included 17 women who were experiencing bouts of depression in the weeks prior to their menstrual period — the time of PMS, in other words. The women had been on antidepressant medications for at least two months prior to the study’s start, and none suffered from depression outside of PMS.

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Can Your Doctor Do Anything To Help

If you already have an anxiety disorder or are worried about a specific type of contraception, speak to your doctor.

Be as open and honest as you can. Remember, their job is to help you decide which birth control method is right for you.

If youre concerned that your current contraceptive is affecting your mood, track your symptoms in a diary and show it to your doctor.

The earlier they can address those symptoms, the better, Abood says.

Your doctor can then recommend self-help strategies, refer you to a mental health specialist for therapy, or prescribe medication, like an antidepressant.

Why Hormonal Impact On Mood Is Hard To Measure

Studies on hormonal contraception and mood effects have had inconsistent results. Some of this inconsistency is likely because studies are designed and carried out differently and have different ways of measuring mood and mental health outcomes .

There are few randomized controlled trials on the subject, which involve taking a group of people and randomly assigning them to either take hormonal birth control or not. Most of the studies done on mood and hormonal birth control are based on groups of people who chose for themselves what type of birth control they wanted to use. This leaves open the possibility that the outcomes of the study arenât related to the birth control itself, but to some other factor that would lead people to choose that method . Some studies try to account for personal, familial, or societal factors that can increase a personâs risk for depression, but it can be hard.

Study results are often reported as the average for the group of participants, and do not take into account the experience of individuals. Even in a study that concludes that hormonal birth control does not affect mood, there will be small numbers of individuals in that study that have improvement or worsening of their mood .

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What Can You Do To Help Regulate This

The best thing to do is speak with a doctor or other healthcare professional before taking both birth control and antidepressants.

Be open with them about all the medications youre taking, any history of mental health conditions, and how youre currently feeling.

They can then recommend either a form of birth control or an antidepressant that will suit you best.

Once youve started both forms of medication, Lee advises keeping a diary and writing how you feel in it every day, including any new symptoms.

If side effects appear, this means you have written proof as evidence to show the doctor.

They may alter dosages, discuss changing methods, and see if non-pharmacological therapies can help.

Avoiding Unintended Pregnancies Which Trigger More Depression

Can Birth Control Help With Depression And Anxiety

The mental and physical stress of an unintended pregnancy could trigger a new and recurrent bout of depression, including postpartum depression, Wisner added.

Women should know they always have access to many types of birth control, regardless of their history or likelihood of mental illness, Wisner said. They shouldnt feel like theyre out there flailing on how to not get pregnant.

The highest prevalence of mental illness is in women in their prime reproductive years , yet psychiatrists dont typically receive enough training in contraceptive management to properly counsel these women on the choices of birth control for them, the authors said. The study authors hope the findings will lead to better collaboration between gynecologists and psychiatrists, so they can work together to help women decide what contraceptive is best for them.

Psychiatrists should feel well versed and comfortable talking with patients about their goals for fertility, pregnancy planning and starting a family down the road, Kiley said. The default should not be, I just told her to use condoms. It should be that there are a lot of safe and effective options out there. We should also develop better communication systems between psychiatrists and gynecologists, who care for the same patients.

Contraceptive care should be viewed as preventative health, so women can make active and deliberate decisions about timing of pregnancies. Its a novel concept to some, though.

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Can Hormonal Birth Control Help With Depression

Hormonal birth control can help with depression. A study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology showed women between the ages of 25-34 who used hormonal contraceptives had lower mean levels of concurrent depressive symptoms. Furthermore, the hormones in birth control may help to boost an individuals mood and, thus, decrease the severity of depression.

Hormonal Birth Control & Depression

Further research is needed to confirm whether hormonal birth control causes depression, but more recent studies indicate that birth control can lead to depressive symptoms.

A large-scale Danish study published in 2016 found that the research participants who took hormonal birth control were more likely to be diagnosed with depression or to be prescribed an antidepressant. This side effect was most commonly found in adolescents who were taking hormonal contraceptives.

Interestingly, much of the research reports that depressive symptoms subsided over time with continued use.

A separate 2016 review also studied the relationship between combined hormonal birth control and mood, but the results were inconclusive. The study authors suggested that more research and data are needed.

While there is still no definitive evidence to confirm that birth control causes depression, every person reacts differently to certain medications. If you have experienced negative side effects from your birth control, including depressive symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider about what other options might work for you.

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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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3 Ways I Manage Depression (not therapy or meds)

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.

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Women Face An Array Of Choices

In recent decades, many new contraceptive methods have hit the market, including a growing number of hormonal contraceptives that contain progestin but not estrogen.

These progestin-only contraceptives include methods of long-acting reversible contraception , such as the Mirena IUD and Nexplanon implant.

They also include the birth control shot, which is commonly marketed under the brand name Depo-Provera.

Compared to birth control pills, the Mirena IUD, Nexplanon implant, and Depo-Provera injections are more effective for preventing pregnancy and more convenient for many people.

But some women might be reluctant to try these methods of birth control due to concerns over potential side effects.

One of the problems that a lot of people have is that they hear that their friend or family member has experienced some sort of depression, Worly said.

So I wanted to go and look through the literature from a scientific perspective and really assess the question: Is there a link between depression and progestin-only contraception and is it something that my patients need to worry about? he explained.

He said his findings might help reassure people about the safety of these progestin-only options, including the Mirena IUD, Nexplanon implant, and Depo-Provera shot.

Most women should feel safe and reassured that they can use that long-acting contraception, Worly said, and they shouldnt have trouble as far as depression.

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.

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How Hormones Affect Your Mental Health

Hormones possibly play a role in messing with your mental health.

A small study showed that people with depression had lower levels of estrogen during the follicular phase, or the time between the first day of the period and ovulation, during which time estrogen levels normally rise.

These changes in estrogen levels may explain the reason why people experience depressive symptoms more often in the premenstrual phase, postpartum, and in perimenopause.

Similarly, when a person is using hormonal birth control, it can alter the normal level of hormones in their body, which could possibly bring changes to their mental health.

Environmental and societal factors also play a role in ones risk of depression. For instance, a family history of mood or anxiety disorders, stressful life events, adversities during childhood, and social isolation can all cause someone to be diagnosed with depression.

Can Going Off Birth Control Cause Depression

Personal Account of Birth Control and Depression

Birth control affects every woman differently. Some women may notice significant changes when coming off birth control, while others will notice no changes at all.

No studies so far prove that coming off birth control can cause depression. However, some women may experience changes to their mood if they cease their hormonal contraception.

One study found that in some women, being on hormonal contraception can stabilize symptoms related to mood and may reduce mood-related symptoms in women with psychiatric disorders. Women with psychiatric disorders who experience improvements in mood related to taking hormonal birth control may notice a worsening of symptoms when they cease use.

Due to the changes in hormones, some women may feel more irritable or experience mood shifts when they come off hormonal birth control. Other women may not notice this at all.

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Do Birth Control Pills Affect Your Mood Scientists Cant Agree

Earlier this month, the surprising findings of some new research were presented at a conference. At the virtual European Congress of Psychiatry, Elena Toffol and her team from the University of Helsinki in Finland reported that they had found that attempted suicide rates were lower in women who used hormonal contraception compared to those who didnt. In fact, the latter group were almost 40 percent more likely to attempt suicide than the former, they reported.

These findings might be the opposite of what youve heardor experienced: Doesnt hormonal birth control have a reputation for exacerbating mental illness? Your confusion would be forgiven. Perhaps you recallheadlines from 2017, when a Danish study found that hormonal contraception was linked with an increase in attempted suicides.

This giant contradiction is but one of many in the years of research that has tried to answer the question of whether hormonal birth control causes psychological side effectsand the jury is still out. In September 2016, The New York Times published an article with the headline Contraceptives Tied to Depression Risk. Six months later, the same publication came out with a piece headlined Birth Control Causes Depression? Not So Fast.

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The misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription medications affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans. SAMHSAs 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that approximately 19.3 million people aged 18 or older had a substance use disorder in the past year.

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Happy Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time dedicated to breaking down stigma and supporting those with mental illnesses and their loved ones. To honor the month, here are a few ways that birth control can help support your mental health and help you say #ThxBirthControl.

  • It can give you a sense of control

    As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, I rely on my IUD to give me peace of mind in a world where I otherwise feel out of control. A queer friend of mine with an anxiety disorder prefers to use birth control pills to completely suppress her period. For her, being in control of when and if she gets her period is not only convenient, but also reminds her that shes in charge of her body. All our experiences are unique, so always speak to a health care provider and mental health professional about any questions you have.

  • It can alleviate some causes of depression

    Hormonal birth control can help alleviate the depression symptoms associated with conditions such as premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder . For many people, birth control helps to manage and even improve their moods and overall mental health.

  • There are many types of birth control. How can you know which will best fit your needs? A conversation with your health care provider is essential. Here are some of the things you may want to consider:

    Alternatives To Hormonal Birth Control

    How Do Birth Control Pills Work?

    There are many different types of birth control. In the US, people will try five different methods throughout their lives on average. So, reevaluating and switching methods due to any side effects, including depressive symptoms, is not only okay, its normal.

    Not all hormonal methods have the same hormones in them or the side effects. If someones having a negative reaction on one pill, for example, they could talk to their provider about trying an implant, the shot, or even a different brand of pill. Switching to a non-hormonal contraceptive is also an option as these methods dont have any hormone-related side effects.

    Its important to remember that hormonal methods are more effective than most non-hormonal methods. If staying baby-free is the main concern, the most effective, non-hormonal methods are a non-hormonal IUD or sterilization . Other non-hormonal methods include barrier methods, such as condoms and internal , diaphragms, and spermicide, are also options as is pulling out, fertility awareness based methods, and taking a break from the types of sex that can lead to pregnancy.

    Prioritizing mental health is essential. While not everyone will need to switch methods due to side effects, its important to stay on top of changes in both physical and mental health whenever beginning a new birth control.

    Some folks birth control journeys experience more detours than others, but ultimately there is a method out there for everyone.

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