A few years ago, my relationship almost ended because of my birth control pills. I had been with my boyfriend (who is now my fiance, so, happy ending!) for a few years, but I had been acting like a different person for a few months. I felt extremely sad over almost nothing, I was angry all the time, and my anxiety was through the roof. I was having terrible mood swings that would even freak me out, and my anxiety made me more jealous than usual. And I wasn’t just sad – I felt depressed in a way I hadn’t ever felt. At first, I didn’t realize it was the Pill that was making me feel so awful. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, and it scared me. But one day, I tried to think about the changes I had made that could have messed with my mood so much, and I remembered I had switched pills.
After Googling it, I started to realize that the drastic change in my mood might have been because of the Pill. I didn’t want to go through changing them again, though, so I tried to fight it – it didn’t work. My breaking point came one day when I got in a huge blowout fight with my boyfriend because I was, admittedly, over-reacting and freaking out. Right before that, I had felt so depressed that I had actually thought what suicide would be like in a very serious way. These things scared me so much that I knew I needed to make a change. I eventually ended up going off the Pill. It’s been a few years without them, and I can say for sure that my mood and emotions are more stable and definitely not as drastic as they were at that point in my life.
Here’s the thing, though: a lot of doctors and researchers claim that the birth control pill doesn’t actually mess with our minds in this way. There have been studies that say that the Pill doesn’t really do anything to your emotions, and that more women report no change in moods than woman who do. Researchers say that studies that show the link to a mood change aren’t accurate enough. All of this is incredibly frustrating to anyone like myself, who has absolutely experienced a huge change in their mood when on the Pill. So, what’s the truth?
There is no one, clear answer, but there are studies that link the birth control pill to messing with your mood, although this of course is different for everyone. Check out what the Pill can do to your emotions so that you know what could happen to you:
The Pill Might Make You DepressedFor a long time, researchers and doctors insisted that birth control pills couldn't cause depression, or at least that we can't prove that it can. But a recent study has finally determined that there is a link between hormonal birth control and depression. The study looked at data from more than one million women in Denmark for 13 years who had no history of depression and found that those using hormonal birth control had a 50 percent greater risk of depression when first taking the pill. The research found that the risk of depression on the Pill was higher for women ages 15 to 19 and women who stayed on it for six months. Using progestin-only pills doubled the risk. Of course, there was plenty of criticism. Doctors and other researchers said the study wasn't conclusive enough for several reasons, which is frustrating to hear! But I'll tell you this: I know my depression was because of my Pill, and a lot of other women say the same thing. So, scientifically, I guess we still can't say it definitely does, but hey - it's worth more research. Source: iStock
It Can Lower ConfidenceA very recent study found that hormonal birth control can result in a decreased quality of life for women. The study looked at 340 women, half on placebo pills and half on a birth control pill. The women on the pills reported a lower quality of life that included depression and a decrease in self-worth. Separate from this study, other women have complained that the Pill makes them more anxious, which could also lead to less confidence. Source: iStock
It Can Decrease EnergyThat same study found that hormonal birth control pills can lead to fatigue and a decrease in energy. This makes sense, since depression is commonly linked to a decrease in energy. So, it's totally possible that the Pill is making women feel more exhausted and less active. Source: iStock
It Could Also Make You HappyOn the flip side, it's important to note that the Pill can have positive effects on your mood as well. One doctor told Self magazine that, "Hormonal birth control can improve mood as likely as it can detract. The emotional relief of not having the extreme symptoms from their former symptoms is very uplifting. This has been especially true in adolescent girls where their periods can be very painful and disruptive." Source: iStock
The Pill Might Make You Less Turned OnYou've probably heard it before, but it's true: the Pill can make you feel less horny. It seems backwards, because it kind of is - something that is supposed to make sex easier also makes it harder - and it's frustrating for many women. Studies have found that women on the Pill have less sex than women who aren't on the Pill, and considering the fact that a lower sex drive is a side effect, this makes sense. Source: iStock
It Can Cause Mood SwingsOn top of depression, fatigue, and a loss of confidence, studies have found that the Pill can cause mood swings as well. Since that typically goes along with the other symptoms, it's not too surprising, but it is still incredibly frustrating. Source: iStock
It Might Change Who You're Attracted ToResearch has found that being on the Pill might be changing who you're attracted to. The study discovered that women on the Pill were more attracted to "less manly" men. Why? It's from an evolutionary sense - women think that less traditionally masculine men won't abandon their baby, so that's who they become attracted to. I have my doubts about this one, but hey, it's worth pointing out. Source: iStock
How We Respond To Our Emotions Might ChangeOne study found that being on the Pill could change the way we respond to our emotions. Research looked at emotional responses of three groups of women - one on the Pill, one on their week off the Pill, and one not on the Pill at all. The women on the Pill responded better to emotions than those on their week off, because they showed better decision making skills on choosing emotions to hypothetical situations. Source: iStock
What has your experience with birth control pills been like? Has your mood ever been affected? Tell us in the comments.