Are Hormones Helpful or Harmful in Mood and Anxiety?
Birth Control Pills are hormones and they can be helpful or harmful for mood and anxiety symptoms. Adolescent girls and young women are often prescribed birth control pills (hormones) for irregular or absent menstrual periods, menstrual cramps, acne, premenstrual “syndrome” and endometriosis. An important new study published in the Archives of Psychiatry found that women using hormonal contraception (pills, patches, vaginal rings, etc) had a higher rate of developing depression and using antidepressants than women who did not use birth control pills (hormones). This was a well designed study with over a million women included. Results of studies such as these are markedly more meaningful than studies of a handful of people. Adolescents were more vulnerable to this hormone – depression risk than women 20 to 34 years old.
However, as a clinician, I have to remind people that everyone is different and a good psychiatrist will carefully evaluate the full person. Some people get positive effects on their mood from estrogen supplementation. This is typically women who are perimenopausal and who had depression in the past. Then again, the risks compared to the benefits are carefully weighted with each patient and their biology. The current study reinforces that when someone becomes depressed it is critical to do a full evaluation of all possible causes, including psychological, social and medical circumstances.
If a young women has a new onset of depression in the absence of other causes and she has recently started oral contraceptives, that may be the cause. If so, the risks and benefits of stopping the contraceptive and using alternative treatments may be a good option. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression or bipolar disorder, come see us for a confidential evaluation. We offer a range of treatments, with each treatment based on your unique needs.