Does Birth Control Contribute to Anxiety & Depression?

 If you have struggled with anxiety and/or depression while on birth control, you’re not alone. In fact, you are experiencing what about half of women on synthetic contraceptives are experiencing.

This is a topic of discussion that has been coming up A LOT in my coaching practice. Women are tired of feeling lethargic, panicky, and like they are on a mood roller coaster day after day on the pill.

We feel like there is nowhere to turn besides more pharmaceuticals, and our labs keep coming back as normal, only adding to the frustration.

The silly thing is … many of us are prescribed birth control pills to “treat” our PMS and mood related symptoms. Kind of an oxymoron if you ask me.

And in addition to a birth control prescription, when that doesn’t seem to help, we are told to try an antidepressant on top of it all.

But is the pill really doing more harm than good?

I say, enough is enough.

This is exactly what happened to me about 4 years ago.

 
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I felt completely awful. My periods were inconsistent, I was spotting throughout the month, my acne was a mess, and above all else…my anxiety was skyrocketing.

The only solutions I was offered was birth control to “fix” my periods and anxiety medicine to lift my moods.

But here was the thing - I had been on birth control for years before I decided to call it quits. I had switched back and forth between different pills, and the Nuvaring, trying to find the solution for why I felt so OFF all the time.

I of course enjoyed the pill for contraceptive reasons, but I was not enjoying the side effects. Yet, I still put up with with them for about 7 years.

I never felt like myself on birth control (and now I know why…). It felt like I didn’t quite have control of my body or my emotions. Everything just felt, kinda, flatlined.

And hormonally speaking, everything was!!

I’ll explain more below…


Recently, I have been reading The 5th Vital Sign by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack, and it is INCREDIBLE.

It is one of the most easily digestible books on the importance of our periods, hormone-balance, and fertility I’ve read in a while.

I especially loved her chapter on the affects of brith control and our mental health.

With so many women struggling with anxiety, panic, and depression while on the pill...why isn’t more being done about it?

The statistics are staggering. One study from the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that 51% of women experience at least one mood-related side effect when taking the pill. (Spoiler alert, they didn't do much with the findings...).

Really?!

Instead of blaming the pill for these side-effects, they found reasons to blame the WOMEN taking them.

Pharmaceutical companies will blame genetics, or stressful life situations, or basically anything really…finding a way to isolate the women who are struggling. Instead of finding something wrong with the pill, they spend their efforts justifying why the PERSON taking them is the actual problem.

So, in the end, you feel as though you failed the pill. Not the other way around.

But, these mood & pill related issues continues to dig way deeper into the struggles of women’s health…

In her book, Lisa goes on to discuss a study conducted on an injectable contraceptive for men: injecting synthetic versions of estrogen and testosterone, dramatically reducing sperm count. Thus, a successful contraceptive method.

Here is a summary of the results…

“Twenty men discontinued the study due to product-related side effects. Of these 20, six men discontinued only for changes in mood, and six men discontinued for the following single reasons: acne, pain or panic at first injection, palpitations, hypertension, and erectile dysfunction. Eight men discontinued for more than one side effect, including multiple reasons related to changes in mood.” (The 5th Vital Sign, pg. 111)

Sounds familiar, huh?

But here is the BIG contraceptive difference men and women…. they discontinued the study.

They concluded that the risks of the injectable contraceptive for men out-weighted the benefits.

Think about it… if you were to tell a man that there was a way they could reduce their sperm count, and prevent pregnancy, but it might cause: anxiety, depression, weight-gain, erectile disfunction (let’s not forget how many women’s libidos completely disappear on birth control…) do you think they would be down??

Obviously not, because there is NOT a synthetic male contraceptive on the market.

And believe me, we can surely suppress and inject artificial hormones into men’s bodies that affect their fertility, too. It’s just that the “risks out-weight the benefits.”

Are you as angry as me yet? ;)

Unfortunately, women aren’t being heard. Sometimes it’s even assumed that women are making symptoms up and this is a serious problem.


I remember calling my gynecologist in college complaining of non-stop spotting and my worsening anxiety. I vividly remember her telling me it was most likely not the pill, but I could try a new one if I wanted. It felt so defeating and like all the problems were “just in my head.”


So let's talk about some brith control facts, k?

  • Birth control depletes essential nutrients & minerals (such as B Vitamins, Vitamin C, magnesium, Zinc...), nutrients that our body NEEDS to stabilize our moods and to function properly.

  • The pill also disrupts the gut microbiome where about 90% of our serotonin (our "happy" hormone) lives.

  • Synthetic estrogen and progesterone do NOT function in our body the same as our natural hormones. The pill provides us a flatline dose of synthetic hormones that cuts off the communication between our brain and ovaries. This means our brain does not send important signals to our body that, as you guessed it, helps elevate and support our moods.

  • Our natural progesterone is what helps us feel cool, calm, and collected. The pill suppresses our natural flow of progesterone. It's synthetic counterpart, progestin, has much the opposite effect on the body.

  • The pill affects women’s libido. It does this by suppressing our testosterone levels and increasing something called sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG binds our estrogen and testosterone preventing our body from using them. And both of these hormones dramatically affect our sex-drive. Try to tell me low libido doesn’t effect our mental health and our romantic partnerships …

Here is the bottom line… our ovaries do SO much more than support fertility.

They are a crucial part of our overall health and well-being. Maintaining our mental health with the proper levels of our natural hormones is a BIG part of it.

So yes, the pill prevents against pregnancy. But at what cost?

If you have been struggling with brith control or are trying to come off the pill, I’m here to help.

You are heard. You’re not crazy. And there IS hope for balancing your hormones and preventing pregnacny off the pill, I promise you.

Let's get your complimentary call scheduled and see if working together is a good fit.

P.S. - I also wrote a blog post about the 5 things you need to know about birth control. You might find it helpful, too ;)

This blog post is for informational and educational purposes only. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis.

 
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