Can Prednisone Cause Anxiety And Depression Symptoms?

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated March 23, 2022

prednisone and anxiety and depression symptoms

Can prednisone cause anxiety and depression symptoms?

Yes!

Prednisone is a corticosteroid, a synthetic version of cortisol – the body’s most powerful stress hormone.[1][2]

Taking high doses of prednisone will increase the body’s overall stimulation level, like how high levels of stress can increase circulating cortisol levels.

People who aren’t anxious or hyperstimulated often notice increased stimulation, like they have ingested caffeine when taking prednisone.

However, taking a corticosteroid when the body is already hyperstimulated is like throwing gas on an already burning fire. Prednisone can dramatically stir the body up.

Moreover, insomnia (most likely due to the increase in stimulation) is a common side effect of prednisone. A lack of sleep can also cause an increase in circulating cortisol and stimulation, making everything feel worse.[1][2]

While prednisone is useful for suppressing the body’s immune system and reducing inflammation (which is often why it’s prescribed), it can stir the body up, especially for those already dealing with anxiety and hyperstimulation symptoms.

Moreover, feeling agitated and experiencing mood swings are also side effects of prednisone, which can exacerbate symptoms.[1][2]

Stopping prednisone should cause the cessation of side effects. However, it can take some time for the body to recover and calm down after prednisone has been stopped.

If you are familiar with the recovery strategies we recommend, faithfully practicing them, including containing concern about the increase in symptoms, can help your body recover. But don’t be surprised if it takes more time than you expect to notice a positive difference. It will take time for your body to recover from the boost in stimulation.

Faithfully practicing your recovery strategies, containing anxiousness, patience, and time generally brings about an end to the side effects of prednisone.

Since each body is somewhat physically and chemically unique, the length of recovery will vary from person to person.

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The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our Anxiety Frequent Questions archive.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including: Can prednisone cause anxiety and depression symptoms?

References

1. Amelink, Marijke, et al. "Anxiety, depression and personality traits in severe, prednisone-dependent asthma." Respiratory Medicine, March 2014.

2. Kenna, Heather, et al. "Psychiatric complications of treatment with corticosteroids: Review with case report." Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, October 2011.