Millions of women across the UK rely on the contraceptive pill, and day-in-day-out think nothing of their daily routine, popping a pill out of the packet and washing it down with a drink.
But are they really aware of what it is doing to their mental health?
Personally, I have been on the pill for the last two years, and since then I’ve felt like a completely different person, I didn’t know much about the pill before I went on it, it was originally suggested by my GP to help regulate my periods and at that point of time I was willing to do anything to feel somewhat normal – all my friends were already on the pill and I have never heard any complaints, I was always told the perks of being able to time your own period to fit around holidays, so I was excited to jump straight in.
As soon as I started taking the pill I noticed changes happening about myself, but I put it down to the fact I was reaching the end of my teen years and I was growing up and becoming a woman, I was so angry all the time, and I completely lost my appetite but I managed to go up two dress sizes, everyone around me was telling me to snap out of it and to start behaving like the girl they know, but I just couldn’t manage it.
Then I made a breakthrough discovery, whenever it was my week’s break from the pill I would completely mellow out, I was a pleasure to be around and I could go hours, even days, without losing my temper.
I was completely happy in my life, but there was something in me that couldn’t drop or change, I began to do research to find out if I was the only person feeling this way.
The University of Copenhagen published a study involving a million women aged 15 and 34 over 13 years and concluded that women who take a contraceptive pill are more likely to be treated for symptoms of depression.
My boyfriend and I decided that we wanted to be double safe as we were hearing more people we know were having accidental pregnancies, so I decided to take the leap and also go on the pill as well as using condoms. Within a month I was so anxious and cried twice a day, if not more, as for my relationship, I had no sex drive at all, and I felt like my boyfriend hated me.
Whenever I tried to explain how shit I felt about myself I changed my mind and would completely lose my rag with my boyfriend, and I had become the girlfriend I swore I’d never be. Since then I have tried coming off the pill, but instead when I came off the pill it worsened my periods, and I was prescribed another form of the pill, it has controlled my periods again, but I still suffer with griping anxiety, and I have been relying on anti-depressants – all of which I put down to being on the pill, before I was on the pill I was fine.
Now I feel like a mental case constantly and no doctor will accept the pill has done this to me.
Research done by The Debrief found that out of 1,022 audience members between 18-30, with 93 per cent actively taking a form of contraceptive pill, 45 per cent had experienced anxiety/depression, and over half had reason to believe the pill was causing a negative impact on their mental health.
When I first went on the pill it was through wanting to be like all my friends, I was coming towards the end of my first year of college, and my boyfriend was older than me, he told me all the girls he had been with was on it, and that I should go on it because sex feels better without condoms, I believed him and with that I went on the pill.
Whilst I was on the pill I completely lost all focus on life, I was walking round in a blur, with constant migraines and mood swings, I thought it was because my friends were just annoying so I didn’t think much of it, until the slightest thing enraged me. I eventually went to the doctors about my constant migraines and was told it was my body reacting to too many hormones working at once inside me, he said he had seen other girls go through the exact same thing and told me to come off the pill and use different protection – I did and I became completely ‘normal’ again, safe to say the relationship soon ended after that.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have a system in which they monitor all healthcare products within the UK under a scheme called the Yellow Card Scheme, and they ensure that the products are safe for patients to use.
A freedom of information request revealed that there had been thousands of yellow cards flagged about hormonal contraceptives linking to mental health problems including; depression, suicidal thoughts, mood swings and anxiety.
There have been more than 800 reports of psychiatric reactions to Desogestrel between 2002 and 2016, this compound is found in more than five types of contraceptive pills.
The NHS have commented on the results found by The University of Copenhagen under ‘health news’ section on their website: “This study is not able to prove that the contraceptive methods are responsible for the depression – only to find possible links to investigate further.” This article was posted September 2016, and no further research has been posted to their website.
Three-and-a-half Million women in the UK use a hormonal contraceptive, which surely means more research should be done about the links with depression.
Featured image by Annabelle Shemer via Flickr CC