Can birth control make you depressed? Your bad moods might have a direct cause

If I could, I would give birth control a hug to show it how much I love and appreciate it. But as much as the wonders of science and my uterus never fail to amaze me, birth control is also a pain in the ass. Forget about getting it (that’s annoying enough sometimes) but once you’re using birth control regularly, it can totally mind-fuck you. Some women gain weight, some lose their libido (which defeats the whole point of the pill), and many women report that their birth control causes depression, but there has never been strict science to really prove the connection between hormonal contraceptives and depression. But it’s sort of obvious — anything messing with your hormones is messing with your brain chemistry, so it makes sense that birth control can intensify depression.

A recent study done by researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that women taking oral contraceptives were 23 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression. And if you’re taking a progestin-only pills, you’re 34 percent more likely to suffer from depression. Those numbers double when looking at women who are using an alternative to the pill, like a hormonal IUD, the patch, or the ring. Dayum, right?

Going on birth control doesn’t mean you automatically get clinically depressed, but it’s something you should ask your doctor about when choosing a method that will work for you. It’s also something for women to discuss with their therapists in order to make the right kind of treatment plan. It’s really freaking unfair that hormonal birth controls mess with your mood; like, can women just get a fucking break now and again?

It’s also dangerous in so many ways. There’s the danger of not knowing that your birth control is affecting your mental health and adding that into the equation when you’re doing your personal “crazy check” (you know, that moment when you realize that the reason you’re sobbing into your pillow or shrieking at your partner in a parking lot is because you’re PMS-ing? Just me?).

Knowing the connection can help with finding the right treatment for serious depression or even just dealing with the stigma of being sad. Birth control messing with your mind is also dangerous because it means a lot of women stop taking it. Mood changes and swings is the most common reason for going off of the pill or other contraception. Maybe quitting your birth control regime works for you and you’re thrilled, but it also means a higher risk of getting pregnant and then having to figure out what the hell you’re going to do about it.

There’s not a lot women or science can do — sometimes it comes down to a choice between your mental health and how you feel about the risk of pregnancy. But knowing and being informed about the link between your birth control and your mood is half the battle. It’s not you; it’s the hormones.