There Are Two More Things I Want You To Know About When It Comes To Depression Anxiety And The Pill
Birth control pills are also known for disrupting Tryptophan metabolism. Tryptophan is a very important amino acid because Tryptophan
is needed to make two very important chemicals that Im sure you have heard of.
- #1 Serotonin and the other
- #2 Melatonin.
When you feel sad or depressed, anxious, when you cant think straight, irritable, cant focus- one of the main neurotransmitters that is associated with these feelings is serotonin.
When you cant sleep at night, perhaps you reach for your melatonin supplements. Remember, both are made from Tryptophan and when you use birth control pills, the pill can disrupt your feel good chemicals and the chemicals that regulate your sleep cycle.
This illustration that you see here, shows how Serotonin and Melatonin are made from Tryptophan.
Will Birth Control Make Me Depressed
Q: Can hormonal birth control cause depression?
The only birth control options that cant impact someones mood are the copper IUD and condoms, because they are completely free from hormones. All other birth control changes hormone levels.
Studies looking for a link between depression and birth control suggest that synthetic hormones can cause mood changes, but there isnt evidence to conclude that they cause depression.
That said, how birth control impacts people is very personal. Ive had some women with depression do just fine on one type of birth control, whereas other women feel their depression has increased on that same brand. Different formulations of birth control impact women differently.
And while a woman may have a problem with one brand of birth control, another type might work great for her.
The most important thing is for a woman to be open with her provider about her mental health. I need to know how she is doing at managing her depression, and how her body is responding to the birth control, so we can work together on the right solution.
Whats more, its important for women to remember that pregnancy and childbirth also cause significant hormonal changes. Choosing an appropriate form of birth control so that a pregnancy can be planned is important for managing mental health.
Jasmin Whalen-Vu, CNM
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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How To Balance Hormones While On Birth Control
The best way to ensure that your birth control pill will help regulate your hormones is to take it around the same time every day. Not only will this make it more effective, but it will also help you get into a routine of taking it every day. The more you forget to take the pill, the more you put yourself at risk of unplanned pregnancy and fewer health benefits.
What Types Of Depression Can Birth Control Treat
Depression is an incredibly complex disorder every individual with the disorder may experience it differently. With that being said, there are two types of depression that are particularly common for women:
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder This disorder typically occurs a few days before a woman starts her period. It may be confused with Premenstrual Syndrome because the symptoms are similar. However, PMDD is distinguished from PMS in that the symptoms become so intense that they disrupt the individuals daily functioning.
- Postpartum depression This disorder typically occurs within one year of giving birth and entails increased feelings of sadness, emptiness, and/or hopelessness that last for more than two weeks.
While experiencing some negative emotions is a normal part of life, feeling this way all the time may be indicative of a more serious health condition. If you or someone you know notices any of the following symptoms, consult a doctor they can help determine an appropriate treatment plan.
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So How Do Birth Control Pills Affect Our Psyche
After analyzing the obtained data about the supposition that birth control pills can worsen anxiety, the researchers found the proof that tablets really change how women perceive and respond to information. Some pieces of research revealed changes in communication, memory impairment, emotional non-stability for those who use contraceptives, they revealed that pills can lead to a structural reorganization of the brain. The researchers also noted that some studies have found a link between oral hormonal contraceptives and mood disorders based on chemical processes, such as depression, fatigue, man, a and anger.
In view of the seriousness of the evidence presented by a very limited amount of data, scientists called for a more thorough study of the side effects of birth control pills including anxiety.
Adolescents And The Pill
Adolescents using COCs in the Danish study had a higher risk for being diagnosed with depression and prescribed an antidepressant than adults in the study .
Adolescents in the study Finnish study were more likely than people not using hormonal birth control to be prescribed an antidepressant for every COC formulation they studied .
A study of adolescents in the U.S. who were currently or had ever used the pill showed an increased risk for ever having experienced depression, but no increased risk for current depression . But when other factors such as age, smoking, BMI, family socioeconomic status, and whether the adolescents were sexually active were considered along with the use of birth control pills, there was no increased risk for depression .
A small study where adolescents were randomly assigned to use COCs containing ethinyl estradiol/levonorgestrel or placebo for three months showed no difference in depression scores between the two groups at the end of the study .
The key takeaway: The pill may increase the chance of being diagnosed with or treated for depression, but the specific pill formulation may make a difference. Overall, it appears as though COCs do not have a harmful effect on mood reported by users, but this may vary between individuals.
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Can Birth Control Pills Alleviate Depressive Symptoms
Some of the most commonly reported side effects of birth control pills are depression and mood swings.
And just like any other study conducted to shed light on this controversial topic, researchers have been unable to prove or disprove a link between birth control pills and depression, as studies have found conflicting results.
Another example is a certain pilot study which found that depression is the top reason behind women stopping their use of birth control pills.
The study also found that women using combination birth control pills were significantly more depressed as compared to another group of women not using the pills.
On the contrary, a recently published study in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics found that depression is not considered as one of the most common side effects of birth control pills. This study also maintained that the connection between the two is still unclear.
However, despite this lack of certainty, many women have actually reported feeling depressed while taking birth control pills.
But according to the AGO study, these reports may be because of the inconsistent use of the word depression. Differences in pill formulations can also play a role.
This alleged connection can also be due to an already large number of women with depression in the United states, as an estimated 12 million women in the country are diagnosed with clinical depression each year.
Are There Birth Control Methods That Wont Make Anxiety Worse
Only 4 to 10% of women who take the birth control pill report adverse mood symptoms as a result a figure relatively consistent across other methods of hormonal birth control.
There are, however, non-hormonal methods of birth control available that are less likely to interfere with mood. Condoms, diaphragms, and copper are all highly effective methods of hormone-free birth control that women looking to avoid the potential of added anxiety may want to consider.
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What Birth Control Doesnt Cause Depression
Its normal for women to try out several types of birth control method before settling on one option that ultimately fits her lifestyle and personal health.
In case of the birth control pill, there are different types and levels for each that women can try in order to see what would work best for her. However, it is still important to talk to your health care provider first if you have any concerns about your medical history or if you are planning to try a new hormonal contraceptive method.
Meanwhile, when it comes to non-hormonal contraceptives such as the copper IUD or condoms, there is no known risk of depression or anxiety with the use of these birth control methods.
However, a number of women who had a copper IUD implanted have reported increased depression and irritability 2-5 months after IUD insertion which went away after removal of the device.
Research is still mixed on progestin only methods such as the hormonal IUD, implant, and the progestin only pills.
For women with history of depression and anxiety, there are different safe and effective birth control methods they can try before sticking with one that ultimately suits them.
But communication with your health care provider is still crucial in order to address your needs and concerns regarding the perfect birth control option for you.
How Does Birth Control Affect Your Mood
A normal menstrual cycle involves fluctuations of hormones like estrogen and progesterone, Gersh says. However, when you take hormonal birth control, your hormones remain more stable, and change less throughout your cycle.
“Without these fluctuations, the normal stress responses of the body are negatively altered,” Gersh says. This means that when you’re taking birth control, you may have higher levels of a stress hormone called cortisol.
When you have higher cortisol levels, you may feel stronger negative emotions like stress and fear. “This modification of the normal levels of cortisol results in altered moods and mood swings,” Gersh says.
But in some cases, higher cortisol levels can have a benefit if your cortisol levels are too low, it can increase your risk for depression. This means that hormonal birth control could protect against depression for people with naturally low cortisol.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Depression
Identifying depression can be more difficult than it seems. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Long-term sadness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dull aches or pains
Depression can sometimes be difficult to discern from other mood disorders or even just bouts of extreme sadness. Depression is best distinguished by the length of time during which people suffer from it: if any of the above symptoms last for weeks or months at a time, it may be an indicator that more than just mood swings are at play.
Some of the known causes of depression include the loss of a loved one or another intimate personal tragedy, trauma, abuse, or a family history of depression. If any of those things have recently impacted you or youve recently started taking a medication with depression as a listed side effect, you might find that the hormonal changes brought about by birth control exacerbate the issue.
If youre experiencing symptoms of severe depression or suicidal thoughts seek care immediately by calling your regular provider, calling 911 , or reaching out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-723-8255.
Oxidative Stress And Depression
Since most people have never heard of oxidative stress as it related to Depression and anxiety, Lets talk for just a moment about oxidative stress
- What is it,
- Why you need to know about it,
- How to test for it and
- Its connection to depression and anxiety
First off, Oxidative stress is a destructive force on the cells in your body and it happens when you dont have sufficient amount of antioxidants due to poor diet, poor absorption underlying inflammatory condition in the body.
While that might not seem like a big deal-its a huge problem to the integrity of the cells in your body. I like to use this illustration of an apple when explaining oxidative stress to my patients.
We all have apples in our house sitting on our kitchen table. As long as you dont bite into that apple and disturb the outer skin of the apple, that apple will keep fresh for several weeks and perhaps even a month or two.
But have you ever noticed that when you take a bit out of that apple, within just a few short minutes, that apple begins to turn brown. If you left that apple on the kitchen table for a week it would be rotten. Thats Oxidative stress! But when it happens in your body- that oxidative stress is damaging the cells and causing disease at the cellular level. One way we measure oxidative stress is by measuring lipid peroxidation,
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If You Are Taking The Pill
So thats the first problem we see. The pill lowers testosterone, but are those problems only from the pill? What about the other forms of oral contraceptives ? Lets take a look at another study. This one is from Human reproduction- 2012 titled,
Very quickly another problem emerges with hormonal based contraceptives. From this study not only does oral contraceptive cause problems, but now vaginal rings and IUDs as well as contraceptive patches cause
If you are a woman with PCOS better known as Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome or a woman with Endometriosis,
Blood sugar dysregulation and inflammation are two of the most common denominators that we see in EVERY chronic disease especially anxiety and depression.
Diet Exercise And Sleep Affect Heart Health But Why
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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What Do You Do If You Are Facing Depression
Depression is not something to be taken lightly. If the symptoms persist for over two weeks it is crucial that you ask your doctor to refer you to a mental health specialist. Therapy and anti-depressants may help depending on what your doctor may prescribe.
Simply talking to someone can prove to be extremely rewarding. If you know of someone who may be facing these symptoms, lend an ear, or suggest a specialist if they are not comfortable talking to you. Even the smallest detail can completely change the way we look at things.
In more severe cases, thoughts of suicide are a symptom, and should be treated with the utmost sense of urgency. If you are facing these thoughts, contact your local helpline or get in touch with a specialist who can help.
Researchers Dont Caution Against The Pill
The authors wrote that they cant definitively say that birth control pills cause depressive symptoms. The pills might contribute to depressive symptoms, but its also possible that girls begin taking birth control pills to treat symptoms theyre already experiencing.
Because of the study design, we cant say that the pills cause mood changes, but we do have evidence suggesting that sometimes the mood changes preceded the use of the pill and sometimes the pill was started before the mood changes occurred, de Wit said.
The researchers also note that their study only looked at girls and women in the Netherlands a relatively homogenous population. A more diverse group might yield different results.
The findings dont necessarily mean that teenage girls shouldnt take birth control pills, the researchers wrote. The pill can have all sorts of benefits for girls, from preventing pregnancies to easing menstrual symptoms. But depressive symptoms could cause them to go off the pill and risk unwanted pregnancies, or otherwise affect their quality of life. For that reason, its important to keep an eye on those symptoms, the authors wrote.
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