'The Pill Messed Me Up': 10 Women Get Real About Their Bodies on Hormonal Birth Control


Given that birth control pills are the most popular form of contraceptive used by women to both prevent pregnancy and regulate hormones, a new study from the journal JAMA Psychiatry that appears to have found links between use of the pill and increased risks of depression is big news for a lot of women. 

The study, conducted by researchers in Denmark, found that the use of hormonal birth control was positively linked with future diagnosis of depression, especially for adolescents. Researchers found that women who used the pill had a 40 percent increased risk of depression after six months of use compared to women who were not using hormonal birth control methods. 

Having a safe, effective, and reliable form of birth control is something that is important to so many women, but so is preventing depression, right? We wanted to find out more about how real women have experienced the relationship between the pill and their mental health, so we asked nine women to share their experiences. 

 

Image via Akkaradet Bangchun/Shutterstock

  • Scared to Try

    1

    "Between 2002-2006 I tried the pill, mini pill, ring, and patch (remember that!?) and I gave each one six months, per doctor's orders.

    My anxiety and mild depression were fueled similarly by each kind of hormonal birth control. I finally gave up and haven't been on any since. I'm terrified to try again." -- Rylie V., Costa Mesa, California 

  • Doctor's Advice

    2

    "I feel like I'm in a weird space with this. On the one hand, my doctor wants me on the pill to control my hormones related to having PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), which has big impacts on my physical health.

    On the other hand, my therapist thinks hormonal BC might be making my low-grade depression worse. Hormones are so freaking powerful!

    This new study really makes me wonder what I should be doing. Time for another ob-gyn visit, I guess." -- Marley D., Saint Paul, Minnesota 

  • Teenage Moods

    3

    "As a mom of teen girls, [I find] this study is interesting. We use birth control pills as a mood stabilizer for two of my teenagers. Works like a charm! I could tell the different by the end of the first month. This was at the suggestion of their psychiatrist." -- Summer E., Phoenix, Arizona

    More from CafeMom: Birth Control Pills Save Women's Lives, Says Major New Study

  • Happier Now

    4

    "I started taking the pill at 14 years old and have struggled off and on with depression since that same time.

    I stopped taking the pill about two years ago when we were ready to have a baby. I feel like my depression hasn't been as noticable but I don't know if that is because I'm not on BC or if being in the new phase of life is the reason, you know?

    I'm planning to go back on the pill once I wean our baby, so I'll have to track my moods and see how that goes." -- Laura N., Casa Grande, Arizona

  • Quitting ASAP

    5

    "I have finally pinpointed my cyclic patterns of anxiety/depression and feelings of wellness/borderline mania.

    It's totally related to my cycle. Reverse PMDD [premenstrual dysphoric disorder]. So my midwife said 'Hey, let's try and see if your hormones might regulate with hormonal birth control' while I'm waiting waiting waiting for my psych consult.

    So I'm 2.5 weeks into that and I feel awful; even worse, I can't get out of bed and I just want to crawl out of my body. I feel crazy.

    I am stopping the pills ASAP." -- Rachel J., Albert Lea, Minnesota 
  • Not a Problem

    6

    "Hmm, interesting. I've been on the pill for almost 20 years now and I can honestly say I don't think I've ever had depression issues. Just lucky, I guess?" -- Sarah F., Denton, Texas

    More from CafeMom: How Much Do You Know About Birth Control Pills? (TRIVIA)

  • Hard to Say

    7

    "It's hard to say -- I've been on the pill for like 20 years and I have depression. I don't doubt that it might contribute. Although if not being on the pill would cure my depression, then sign me up!" -- Mary S., Minneapolis, Minnesota 

  • Side Effects

    8

    "I quit taking the pill a few years ago because I couldn't handle the side effects -- including my moods feeling out of control. I think I am someone who is really sensitive to hormones. I tried the patch and that made me barf. The ring killed my libido. The pill made me fat and depressed. 

    It sucks that all the easy methods are hard on me. Now I'm on condoms until my husband gets snipped." -- Melanie W., Saint Paul, Minnesota 

  • Best Option

    9

    "I sometimes have bouts of depression and I'm on the pill, but I don't know if they are related. But I do know what would REALLY depress me -- getting pregnant again!

    After four kids, I'm willing to deal with a little depression to avoid another pregnancy. I'm not even joking a little here. I have four kids under the age of 10!" -- Name withheld by request

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