For years there had been no definitive research carried out to see if those who are on hormonal birth control, are at risk of depression. Most people were self-diagnosed or simply changed to a different dosage to see if that would fare better with them. Mood changes did occur but it was found to be solely tied to birth control, rather society continued to see the benefits of birth control outweigh the effects it had on mental health. One Buzzfeed article even says that if your acne goes away and you no longer experience extreme cramping, of course your moods ought to get better. However now, there are real statistics and qualitative data that note that those on any form of hormonal birth control are at higher risk to mental health issues - including depression, anxiety, and/or increased mood disorders.
A recent Danish study conducted between 2000 and 2013 looked at women aged 15 to 34. It must be noted that those with preexisting psychiatric conditions along with others who could not take hormonal medication due to risk of clotting, were excluded. To give the study a further element of credence, immigrants, who have been proven to show higher rates of depression, were also excluded.
According to the Harvard Health Blog, contributing editor and doctor, Monique Tello, said, “The researchers analyzed hormonal contraceptive use and subsequent depression in two different ways. They evaluated women who had received a diagnosis of depression as well as women who had received a prescription for antidepressants; these analyses were run separately, and they obtained statistically equivalent results.”
The results showed that all forms of birth control lead to higher risks of depression or serious changes in mood, in a small percentage of women. The highest rate of those at risk are individuals who take “progesterone-only forms, including the IUD.” Dr. Tellow continues to say that the research concludes that “this risk was higher in teens ages 15 to 19, and especially for non-oral forms of birth control such as the ring, patch and IUD. That the IUD was particularly associated with depression in all age groups is especially significant, because traditionally physicians have been taught that the IUD only acts locally and has no effects on the rest of the body.”
Birth control continues to serve as a very positive contribution to our society. It gives women and couples the opportunity to enjoy sex without the burden of having a child or worse - having to decide if a child is wanted or not. Birth control has many benefits, but all of its side effects need to be known. Just like every type of medication, the side effects vary from individual to individual. It is crucial that each person knows the risks that they may face as a result of what they put in their bodies.
A personal note:
Growing up with a father who played the dual role of mother and father, I often went blindly into the area of womanhood. My dad, who is an expert at making pancakes like Cinderella and was my coach for nearly everything, was never an expert in female anatomy. And hell, I can’t blame him —he is a man after all. But damn, did he do his best. From asking me if I had become a woman to taking me to get birth control knowing that I had become sexually active and that my cramps left me crippled, my dad was always there.
The first birth control I went on immediately caused me to become lethargic and very quiet during the fall of my junior year of high school. I then switched to an alternative that was a much lower dosage. For years this worked as it did not seem to affect my mood or hinder me athletically and it definitely helped my cramps that had previously left me bedridden. Unfortunately, after a few years, I started bleeding for weeks on end. Throughout my freshman year of college, I had my “period” for weeks. After doing some reading, I discovered that this is commonplace once one's body become acclimated to one form. So, I went to go change my birth control once more.
This time, the doctor prescribed me something slightly higher but was essentially comprised of the same components. For the most part, I felt fairly normal, but I began to notice that my lows became lower and I would often cry for hours on end. I would like to think that I was so lost in what was happening in my life at the time that I could blame all of my extreme emotions on exterior things, but looking back I just can’t. Yes, I dated some bad guys. Yes, I was frustrated in how I couldn’t translate hard work into things on paper. And yes, I was officially cutting my mom out of my life. But months later, when I no longer needed contraceptives in my life, I found immediate changes. I never cried, and I was consistently happier. I didn’t find myself getting upset over the small stuff and collectively, I was stable again.
Up until recently, a part of me still didn’t believe that a little pill that could affect me so much. So, after not seeing my boyfriend for ten months, and not crying in nine of them, I started the pill once more. I took them for three days and on the third day, I yelled at my boyfriend about a movie. I stopped taking it the very next day. I have come to the realization hormonal birth control just does not work for me or my body.
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