Q: Can hormonal birth control cause depression?
The only birth control options that can’t impact someone’s mood are the copper IUD and condoms, because they are completely free from hormones. All other birth control changes hormone levels.
Studies looking for a link between depression and birth control suggest that synthetic hormones can cause mood changes, but there isn’t evidence to conclude that they cause depression.
That said, how birth control impacts people is very personal. I’ve had some women with depression do just fine on one type of birth control, whereas other women feel their depression has increased on that same brand. Different formulations of birth control impact women differently.
And while a woman may have a problem with one brand of birth control, another type might work great for her.
The most important thing is for a woman to be open with her provider about her mental health. I need to know how she is doing at managing her depression, and how her body is responding to the birth control, so we can work together on the right solution.
What’s more, it’s important for women to remember that pregnancy and childbirth also cause significant hormonal changes. Choosing an appropriate form of birth control so that a pregnancy can be planned is important for managing mental health.
—Jasmin Whalen-Vu, CNM
Jasmin Whalen-Vu is a certified nurse midwife at Vancouver Clinic. She enjoys working in partnership with her patients, providing trusted information and inspiring them to make educated decisions about their reproductive health.