Many women use hormonal birth control to avoid pregnancy at some point in their lives. Some people believe that having extra hormones in your body from birth control can cause changes in your mood, making you feel more anxious.
There is still a lot that doctors don’t understand about birth control and its relationship to anxiety. However, limited research suggests that there may be a link between anxiety and birth control, but it may not be due to hormones.
HOW HORMONAL BIRTH CONTROL WORKS
Birth control pills that contain estrogen and progestin will alter your hormone levels. Your body produces estrogen, whereas progestin is a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone, which your body also produces.
To prevent an actual pregnancy, these pills mimic what your body would do if you were pregnant. When you conceive, your body produces varying amounts of estrogen and progesterone. This occurs similarly when you administer these hormones to your body via the birth control pill.
Estrogen and progestin will either stop or slow ovulation (when your ovary releases an egg). They’ll also thicken the mucus in your cervix, preventing sperm from entering, and thin the lining of your uterus, making your egg less likely to implant. All of these things will assist you in avoiding an unplanned pregnancy.
WHAT IS AN ANXIETY DISORDER?
Anxiety is a common reaction to a stressful situation and can sometimes be beneficial. Anxiety alerts a person to danger, potentially compelling them to take action to keep themselves safe or remove themselves from an unpleasant situation. On the other hand, an anxiety disorder is entirely different.
An anxiety disorder may be diagnosed in someone who experiences intense fear or stress about a future concern. They are typically distinguished by avoidant behaviours and physical symptoms that interfere with daily functioning. Anxiety disorders can cause people to avoid normal situations, and the symptoms can disrupt a person’s work, school, and personal relationships.
Anxiety disorders are diagnosed when a person’s fears are out of proportion to the situation, are not age-appropriate, and impair the person’s ability to function normally. There are various types of anxiety disorders like:
- Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Panic disorders
- Social anxiety disorder
- Separation anxiety disorder
Anxiety disorders are common and frequently debilitating, but they are highly treatable. Most cases of anxiety can be effectively treated with a combination of medication and talking therapy. SSRIs and SNRIs, which are commonly used to treat depression, are also used to treat anxiety disorders.
However, anxiety sufferers must understand what triggers their symptoms and how to cope with stressful situations. They have to do this to keep their anxiety under control.
BIRTH CONTROL SIDE EFFECTS
Anxiety, anger, and depression are the most common emotional side effects reported by those using birth control. However, despite limited research, there is no conclusive evidence linking birth control and emotional changes. However, emotional side effects are not among the most common side effects of any type of birth control method. The introduction of hormones into the body causes some women to experience emotional side effects when using birth control.
HORMONES AND ANXIETY RELATION
Low estrogen levels can make you feel anxious. When estrogen levels in women’s bodies are low during their menstrual cycle, they are more likely to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Although these hormones have been linked to mental health, researchers aren’t sure if the hormones in birth control cause anxiety. Several studies have found no link between hormone levels and emotional responses in women. They contend that even with non-hormonal birth control, preventing pregnancy alone can cause anxiety in women.
CAN BIRTH CONTROL IMPACT ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION?
The hormones progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone are constantly rising and falling during the menstrual cycle. The rise and fall of these hormones cause a variety of biological responses, including ovulation and menstruation.
Hormones are prevented from rising and falling continuously when a woman begins to use hormonal birth control, and the hormones should be fairly stable in most cases. The body is constantly exposed to hormones that trick the body into thinking it is already pregnant, preventing ovulation. If a woman takes monthly hormonal birth control pills, she will experience a withdrawal bleed at the end of each month.
Side effects of hormonal birth control include decreased libido, spotting, and nausea. There may also be mental health side effects, such as mood swings, depression, and increased feelings of nervousness or anxiety. Although there is a risk, most people do not experience changes in mood or any adverse side effects while using hormonal birth control.
Progesterone and estrogen are both known to have mood-altering effects, and the hormonal birth control pill contains synthetic versions of these hormones. According to research, women with a history of depression are more likely to experience mood swings and anxiety when using hormonal birth control.
PRECAUTIONS FOR TAKING BIRTH CONTROL WITH AN ANXIETY HISTORY
When compared to the ups and downs that many women experience when they are not on hormonal birth control, most women benefit from the stable level of hormones caused by hormonal birth control.
When you are not using hormonal birth control, your hormones fluctuate. When you use monophasic birth control, your hormone levels remain stable. They can be even smoother if you skip the optional bleeding week. Fortunately, you can get online birth control pills if you want.
It should be noted, however, that research into whether hormonal birth control pills worsen symptoms in women who are predisposed to anxiety and depression is still ongoing.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded in its 2017 Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use report that there are no contraindications to hormonal contraception for women with depression, referring to a lack of evidence supporting a causal relationship.
Women who used combination oral contraceptives or progesterone-only minipills were more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than women who did not use these types of contraceptives, according to one study. This link, however, could be due to other factors. Women on birth control, for example, are more likely to be in a relationship and at risk of pregnancy, both of which can lead to depression and anxiety.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There isn’t enough data to fully explain why some women experience anxiety while using hormonal birth control. However, whether it’s due to hormones or simply your body’s natural response to a drug that prevents pregnancy, there are ways to help alleviate your anxiety:
Consume nutritious foods
Make certain that you do not skip any meals. Maintain a balanced and nutritious diet. If you believe that alcohol or caffeine are making you anxious, avoid them.
Sleep deprivation will exacerbate your anxiety. Rest well so that you can feel refreshed the next day.
Take a break
Take a walk, read, listen to music, or take a deep breath. Small breaks will allow you to stay focused and calm.
Work up a sweat
Even if you have a busy day, a short workout can lift your spirits.
Keep yourself busy
A good schedule will assist you in focusing on something other than your anxiety.
Remember that emotional fluctuations are normal. Throughout your life, your anxiety and mental state will change. If you believe it is too much for you to bear, speak with your doctor about anxiety-relieving medications.