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Is Depression a Side Effect of Birth Control?

While many women report depression as a side effect of taking birth control, researchers haven’t been able to find a clear link between the two. However, some types of hormonal birth control do list depression as a side effect on their package labels.

Why Some People Think Birth Control Causes Depression

Women commonly blame birth control for depression and mood swings — it’s one of the main reasons they quit taking it. Because many forms of birth control use hormones to prevent ovulation, it’s possible they affect the neurotransmitters responsible for mood changes. However, researchers have done several studies and haven’t been able to prove that hormonal birth control can actually cause depression.

Tell your healthcare provider if you or your family members have a history of depression. They might be able to recommend a form of birth control that’s least likely to cause mood changes.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression is a serious condition with a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Long-term sadness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Fatigue or lack of energy.
  • Hopelessness.
  • Lack of interest.
  • Lack of libido.
  • Increased or decreased appetite.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Known causes of depression include the loss of a loved one, abuse, a family history of depression, and certain medications, among others.

Common Side Effects of Birth Control

Side effects that we do know can occur when women take birth control include:

  • Cramps.
  • Irregular bleeding or spotting.
  • Headaches.
  • Breast tenderness.
  • Weight gain.

Women also report mood swings as a side effect of birth control, which are not be confused with clinical depression.

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