A recent study has shown a correlation between women taking The Pill and being prescribed antidepressants. While it has not been proven The Pill directly causes depression, the amount of women taking this form of birth control who have had to go on antidepressants to treat symptoms is staggering.
My mother had me go on The Pill when I was fourteen-years-old. I had problems with ovarian cysts, along with horrible PMS and 10-day-long periods. Of course, The Pill took care of that. Within three months or so, my cycles were regular. Not all brands agreed with me; over the course of 13 years, I have tried so many different brands, I couldn’t count if I tried.
For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with a anxiety disorder. My parents’ divorce likely played a part in its development, or perhaps it was passed down to me genetically. But around fifteen or sixteen-years-old, my struggles with depression and anxiety hit so hard, I found myself in therapy once a week. My depression worsened in college to a point where I began making myself sick in order to cope.
Even when life was going splendidly, I’d find myself on the floor of my bedroom in a state of hopelessness: Why am I like this? I am so worthless. But within an hour or so, those thoughts would dissipate. I would find any reason I could on which to blame my problems. Anything going on in my life that could be seen as negative would become the scapegoat for my random meltdowns. I even googled ‘bipolar symptoms’ to see if maybe that was the cause. For the life of me, I could not wrap my head around what was going on with my moods. I could be singing at the top of my lungs in the car on the way to class, and then hours later running to the bathroom the moment I was home, feeling sick. And then, towards mid-August, I tried something outrageous…
I stopped taking birth control pills, and within 2 months, these 3 things happened:
1. My mood swings stopped.
I no longer felt amazing in the morning and like jumping off a cliff by noon and vice versa. The horrible self-deprecating thoughts I kept having had dwindled down, as well. Yes, I still have them. I am, after all, only human and living in a society that constantly tells women to be whatever it is they are not. I may still have my struggles with anxiety, but my mood swings have become almost nonexistent, and the ones I still have are nowhere near severe.
2. My energy levels boosted significantly.
One of the ways I’ve coped with anxiety and depression as an adult has been to get up early as heck and go work out. I’d wake up before the sun, eat a healthy breakfast, and head out to an empowering workout class like Pilates or Barre. Some mornings, this would be a breeze. Others, I wasn’t able to move. It was as if I hadn’t slept an hour, let alone 6-7 hours, which is my usual sleep cycle. While it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that this is normal for anyone, the severity of which I experienced this change in energy was inexplicable. Within the first month of being off The Pill, I noticed my energy levels were becoming more regular — more predictable. I am now able to better predict what mornings will likely be more difficult than others. When my first non-BC period came, I knew PMS would be a bit rough and to avoid making early morning appointments. On any other day, however, I knew I’d be just fine.
3. I became more conscious of my sex life.
Although I am a total sucker for monogamy, I am a single, twenty-seven-year-old sexually active woman. As long as my partner had been tested, and I was the only woman he was sleeping with, I didn’t mind ditching condoms. Of course, I’ve learned over the course of my adult years that men don’t always tell the truth. While I knock on wood constantly as an insanely lucky member of the “Never Had An STD” club (*knocks on wood again*), many of my close girlfriends have faced the unfortunate reality the consequences of casual sex can have.Now, let me just note that having an STD (or having had one in the past) is nothing to be ashamed of. I truly believe it’s a sh*tty stigma, much like the ‘period stigma’ this company is working so hard to break. Along with STDs, I have girlfriends who have gotten pregnant even while on The Pill. It is, after all, not always effective.But since I don’t have the peace of mind The Pill gave me as a method of birth control, and since I have zero desire to get an STD, I became far more strict with demanding the use of protection. My health is more important to me than ever these days, as I’m working hard to stay in a positive headspace.While I always recommend the use of condoms with or without The Pill, I now actually take my own advice (yay me!).It’s important for me to note that my experiences may not be the experiences others will have should they choose to ditch The Pill.
There is nothing wrong with taking The Pill. In fact, I think it’s an incredible invention and one that women need to have much easier access to in this country and all around the world. However, for those struggling with depression and anxiety who have truly tried everything to alleviate their pain, this may be a viable option. Some people are simply more sensitive to birth control than others, and that's okay.
Antidepressants did not work for me. I hated being on them because it’s likely I didn’t need to be on them in the first place. So, after about ten weeks without The Pill, I can happily report that my mental health has significantly improved. Along with my organic cotton tampons, I feel like this natural approach to my women’s health regimen is working like a damn charm. If you are struggling like I was, with no clear indication of WTF is going on, this might just be the option to try next.
Just do the best you can to ensure you are taking other precautions such as using condoms and closely monitoring your ovulation cycle if having a baby right now (or an STD) is not in your plans.