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Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2019 Nov 7;21(11):115. doi: 10.1007/s11920-019-1095-z.

Effects of Hormonal Contraceptives on Mood: A Focus on Emotion Recognition and Reactivity, Reward Processing, and Stress Response.

Lewis CA1,2,3, Kimmig AS4,5, Zsido RG6,7,8, Jank A9, Derntl B4,10,11, Sacher J6,8,12.

Author information

1
Emotion Neuroimaging Lab, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Stephanstr. 1A, 04103, Leipzig, Germany. lewis@cbs.mpg.de.
2
International Max Planck Research School on Neuroscience of Communication: Function, Structure, and Plasticity, Leipzig, Germany. lewis@cbs.mpg.de.
3
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Tuebingen, Calwerstr, 14, 72076, Tuebingen, Germany. lewis@cbs.mpg.de.
4
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Tuebingen, Calwerstr, 14, 72076, Tuebingen, Germany.
5
International Max Planck Research School for Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.
6
Emotion Neuroimaging Lab, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Stephanstr. 1A, 04103, Leipzig, Germany.
7
International Max Planck Research School on Neuroscience of Communication: Function, Structure, and Plasticity, Leipzig, Germany.
8
Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany.
9
Department of Obstetrics, University Hospital Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.
10
Werner Reichardt Center for Integrative Neuroscience, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.
11
LEAD Research School and Graduate Network, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.
12
Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.

Abstract

PURPOSE OF REVIEW:

We review recent research investigating the relationship of hormonal contraceptives and mood with a focus on relevant underlying mechanisms, such as emotion recognition and reactivity, reward processing, and stress response.

RECENT FINDINGS:

Adverse effects of hormonal contraceptives (HCs) on mood seem most consistent in women with a history of depressive symptoms and/or previous negative experience with HC-intake. Current evidence supports a negativity bias in emotion recognition and reactivity in HC-users, although inconsistent to some extent. Some data, however, do indicate a trend towards a blunted reward response and a potential dysregulation of the stress response in some HC-users. HC-effects on psychological and neurophysiological mechanisms underlying mood are likely context-dependent. We provide suggestions on how to address some of the contributing factors to this variability in future studies, such as HC-dose, timing, administration-mode, and individual risk. A better understanding of how and when HCs affect mood is critical to provide adequate contraceptive choices to women worldwide.

KEYWORDS:

Depression; Emotion; Hormonal contraceptives; Mood; Reward; Stress

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