Can Birth Control Cause Depression?

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Depression and anxiety have been identified as one of the most common reasons for most women to get off the pill. Despite the number of women who avoid or cease to take birth control due to depression, researchers are unable to explain the connection between the two. So, does this mean you need to avoid the pill all together? Let us talk more about this controversial topic.

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Birth Control : Must Know Facts About the Pill

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The combination pill contains hormones which produce man made estrogen and progesterone, the two hormones that are most important in conception. These hormones enable the releasing of the egg into the fallopian tube leading way to pregnancy. However, the pill is designed in a way that it doesn’t allow the body to naturally release the egg. It is basically a hormone inducing contraceptive that restricts a woman’s body from releasing its egg to prevent pregnancy. It is important to keep in mind that the pill does not provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

There is also a low-dose progestin pill called the mini pill. This birth control pill works by thickening the mucus inside the cervix making it impossible for the sperm to travel through. It also thins the lining of the uterus which helps keep the fertilized egg from implanting itself.

Most side effects of birth control are considered to be mild. For example, spotting or irregular bleeding at different times, sore breasts, nausea, headaches, changes in libido and weight gain are a few. However, the most talked about side effect is depression and anxiety.

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What is Depression?

It is a medical illness that negatively affects your life, the way you think, feel, and behave. It can be the cause of sadness and the loss of interest in activities that you may have once enjoyed. It can also lead to a number of emotional and physical problems which lead to decreased functionality at work and at home. It can cause loss of appetite, weight gain, slowed movements, slowed speech, difficulty in decision making, and in more severe cases, thoughts of death and suicide. The symptoms can be according to the severity of the illness and must last for at least two weeks in order to diagnose it as depression.

It is important to understand that depression is different form bereavement. While loss can cause feelings of sadness, we need to remember that being sad is not the same as having depression. Although some may express that they are depressed when they are sad, there is definitely a link between the two. While the symptoms of grief or sadness are temporary, the symptoms of depression take a toll on one’s life for a longer more strenuous period of time.

While researchers are unable to pin point the exact cause for depression, it is noted that it may be due to psychology, genetics, the environment of an individual, or even basic biological factors. It could also be linked to a traumatic past but in most cases there isn’t an obvious cause.

Read More: My Battle with Depression and Anxiety

The Pill and Depression

One of the most common side effects of the pill is mood swings. If an individual has a history of depression, then it would not be advisable for them to continue birth control for a longer period of time. Although this has not been proven by researchers, it hasn’t been disproven either. However, studies show that women using the combination pill, which contains both estrogen and progesterone, can feel significantly more depressed than those using the mini pill which only contains a low dose of progestin. Some call this birth control depression, although researchers are not able to pin point a definitive connection between the two.

Even though the evidence is not quite clear, many drug manufacturers list depression as a side effect for birth control pills while packaging. This suggests that this side effect can be caused by the drug. This rising complaint of women towards the pill could also be due to the loose use of the word “depressed”.

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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.

What we know so far

As mentioned above, birth control has not been proven or disproven as a cause of depression. However, many women complain about depression as a side effect. It is crucial that we do not take these claims lightly as depression is a serious illness that must be approached with sensitivity and caution. To be dismissive could be life threatening to some. If you or anyone who may be close to you are facing these symptoms, get in touch with a specialist to help talk you through it. We need to take care of our minds in order to take care our bodies, lives and those we love.

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/birth-control/birth-control-and-depression#5

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression

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