A study has recently come out validating what many people have known for years, yet, despite the seriousness of it, has often been dismissed or brushed off.
Results showed that women on hormonal birth control are 23 to 34% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those not taking birth control. And adolescents were twice as likely to be diagnosed than their non-birth control taking peers.
This study looked at over 1 million women between 15 and 34 over a 14 year period, and compared various different methods of hormonal birth control.
The fact that women are diagnosed with depression at rates twice as high as that of men can be examined more closely, especially considering that before puberty the levels of depression are about equal between the sexes. What would this number look like if the women in question weren’t on hormonal birth control?
As well, the huge difference in adolescents is a concern since so many young people are put on the pill to provide the so-called “regulation” of their cycles. In fact, the pill doesn’t regulate cycles, and so much of hormonal balance can be affected through diet and lifestyle changes.
Many people who have taken hormonal contraception and complained of mental health issues have been made to feel like their suffering mental health is “all in their heads.” Health care providers often suggest trying a different hormonal method in the hopes that it will have a better result. Or, the person starts that method at a time of their life that is stressful and so it becomes very difficult to know that the method might be affecting their mental health. In some cases they go years and years without realizing there is a connection and that something can be done about it (that is, stop taking the hormonal contraception!).
If you’ve been struggling with depression and you are taking hormonal contraception my advice would be to stop the contraception immediately and see how you feel. I’ve had many clients tell me how after stopping hormonal contraception, as each week goes, by they feel better and better.
The fact is, we can only get pregnant for about a week each cycle, so is it really worth the suffering for just one week of fertility?
There are lots of other birth control methods that do not interfere with your hormones (the synthetic hormones being what’s affecting your mental health) and provide highly effective protection against pregnancy. Of course my favourite is the Fertility Awareness Method, but if that’s not for you then you can use good old condoms (one of my favourites!), diaphragms, IUD, or even withdrawal.
Please take action now if you’ve been struggling, or if you know someone in this situation ask them about their birth control method. Your mental health is incredibly important to your quality of life and it’s not something that should be brushed aside or taken lightly, so act now and happier days can be in your future.