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Birth Control and Depression

Research has shown that, for some people, a link may exist between depression and hormonal birth control. It is natural to be concerned about this link. Luckily, most people who use birth control do not develop depression.1

What is hormonal birth control?

Hormonal birth control is any type of birth control that uses hormones like progestin and estrogen. These hormones change the body's hormone levels, which prevents pregnancy. Hormonal birth control comes in many forms. These include:1-3

  • Pills
  • Patches
  • Rings
  • Implants
  • Injections
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs)

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Does birth control cause depression?

The hormonal changes caused by birth control can impact your mood. This may make you feel sad sometimes, but that is not the same as depression. Depression is a persistent sadness that affects your daily life. It can stop you from being able to do daily activities like eating and sleeping in a normal way.1,2

Research shows that hormonal birth control may slightly increase the risk of depression. One large Danish study included over 1 million women. This study found women who used hormonal birth control had a 2.2 percent chance of depression. Women who did not use hormonal birth control had a 1.7 percent chance of depression.3,4

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Another large study focused on people who used hormonal birth control pills. This study found that those who took these pills were about 1.7 times more likely to develop depression. This study also found that this risk decreased once you stop taking birth control.4

Risk factors for depression from birth control

Research has shown you are more likely to develop depression from birth control if you have certain risk factors. These include:1-4

  • Family or personal history of depression
  • An age of 15 to 19 years
  • The first 2 years of birth control use
  • Use of birth control that has high amounts of progesterone
  • Use of non-pill forms of birth control, such as rings, patches, and IUDs

Alternatives to hormonal birth control

Overall, there is a low risk of depression from birth control. But undesired mood changes is 1 of the most common reasons people stop taking birth control. Even if you do not develop depression, it is normal to not want emotional side effects.1-3

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If you are concerned about hormonal birth control and depression, talk with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to find the best option for you. This may mean switching birth control treatment or trying a non-hormonal option.1-3

Non-hormonal birth control options might include:5

  • Copper IUDs
  • Condoms
  • Diaphragms
  • Cervical caps
  • Sponges

Birth control and depression

Many people can use hormonal birth control with no issues. Some people even use birth control to manage their mental health. It may help manage mood swings from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). These are conditions that can cause depressive symptoms and mood swings before a period starts.1,2

Different types of birth control may have different risks, benefits, and downsides. Hormonal birth controls are available as many different combinations and doses of hormones. This means that, even if 1 birth control has emotional side effects, another could be fine. It is helpful to discuss all your options and concerns with your doctor. It may also take time to determine the right option for you.1-3

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Depression.Mental-Health-Community.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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