Thursday, March 23, 2006

birth control pills and depression (long)

I have been reading this group for a while and although I wouldn't call myself depressed anymore, it has helped me.  I wanted to write this first to ask a question and second to sort of issue a warning.  

Of the women out there, has anyone else experience serious depression as a side effect of birth control pills.  I have, twice.  The first time I didn't figure it out, mainly because I was going through a really painful breakup from a bad relationship and I stopped taking them and within a few months the depression went away, and I thought it was just that I had gotten over the relationship.  The second time it lasted much longer, and I could find no good reason for my depression-- I am in a really good relationship with an a wonderful and very supportive man.  I really lost any ability to cope with my life and felt very hopeless and exhausted all th! e time.  I had most of the symptoms of depression, and towards the end even the suicidal thoughts.  

I was very afraid that I was going to be just like my mother, who was depressed/schizophrenic much of her adult life.  I would rather be dead than put people through what she put my family through.   I have a problem with therapy because of the way my mother's situation was handled (she was so drugged she was like a zombie in our house).  And since I wasn't making any trouble, no one ever` suggested that I might need some help as well-- so I feel now like why should I trust psychologists when they didn't help then.  

Anyway, that's off the subject.  My last ditch effort before putting myself in therapy was to stop the pills.  Within a week I felt more hopeful and the suicidal thoughts went away, but I would say it took at least six months for the effects to really wear off, maybe more.  I still get very sad aro! und PMS time but it's only for a few days, and if I can just remember that's what it is, I'm okay.  

I tried to do a literature search on the subject of birth control pills side effects and depression and there really wasn't much.   It's listed as a minor side effect in some literature, but if it happens to you it's pretty major, and it comes on so gradually it's really hard to recognize.  The doctor who prescribed the pills for me never mentioned this as a side effect.  

For anyone with depressive tendencies (which I probably have because of my mother) I would say to be very careful with birth control pills.  These hormones effect your whole body, not just your ovaries. And if your are depressed before you put yourself in therapy for your depression, just make sure it's not some medication or something else in your diet that might be causing or exacerbating the problem.  That's my warning.

One last question, does anyone know anything about the heredity statistics for post-partem psychosis! ?  My mother's problems apparently started with that after I was born.  I want to have children very much, but I would rather not if it's even reasonably possible this might happen to me.  I've never had a depressive episode outside of when I was taking the birth control pills.  Are there psychiatrists who specilize in things like this?  I've never heard of one.

Sorry this got so long.   I've been thinking about it for a long time.  Thanks in advance for any advice.

cathy

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In article <1994Feb18.162032.20@news.cs.indiana.edu>

A friend of mine seems to have this side effect, and she didn't seem to have it with her previous birth control pills.  She does suffer from dysthymia, so it's hard to separate the effects (if any) of the pills from her chronic condition.  I've suggested that she talk to her gynecologist about switching to a pill with different hormones.  Does anyone have any information about this?  Are certain hormones (of the ones commonly found in birth control pills) more likely to cause depression than others?  If so, which ones are least likely to have these sorts of side effects?  Which are most likely to make you depressed?  Feedback from anyone with personal or clinical experience would be appreciated.

 -Klaus (heilm@math.berkeley.edu)

7:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In article <1994Feb18.162032.20@news.cs.indiana.edu> "Catherine Rogers" <rog@cs.indiana.edu> writes:

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional.

Oral contraceptive pills affects the woman's vitamin B6 levels to the point that after as little as a month, the woman may experience a lack of energy, sleep patterns may be affected, lethargy and concentration problems may occur.  Sounds like many of the symptoms of depression...

My doctor has recommended that I take a B Complex vitamin daily to counteract the effects of the Pill.  It does help the specific imbalances caused by birth control pills to take a B Complex vitamin daily.  Unfortunately, I do not have information handy about dosage.

-- A little bit of uh huh and a whole lot of oh yeah.   \  (414)CRUSH-13 T. Flynn's Casa de Interesting: 1755 N Cambridge Ave #306 Milwaukee WI 53202    

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember reading somewhere (sci.med.nutrition probably) that there have been studies suggesting that using the pill reduces bioavailability of one of the B vitamins (can't remember off hand which one).  Other studies have linked B vitamin deficiency with depression.  Perhaps your experience bears out this relationship.  Were you taking any B supplements while you were on the pill?  Just curious.

Dan

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could  not take birthcontrol pills due to depression so now I take depo prevera shots four times a year and have had no side effects at all except I do not menstrate which has cut down on PMS a lot.

stknobel

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My family has a huge history of severe depression, my mother and sister particularly affected, but I, so far, have been lucky in escaping it. However, when I tried birth control pills, within 3 months I was suicidal. I don't think I would have figured out what was causing it except for the fact that my boyfriend couldn't handle me crying all the time and dumped me, so I promptly threw the pills in the trash.  I then went home for Thanksgiving break, and during that weekend alone, I felt 100% better.  Since I no longer needed them, I have not experimented with others, but I was not aware that there were substance differences between them.  I was taking the basic brand dispensed by the college health center, and can't remember the brand.  I guess I will try to find out now since there seems to be a difference between them.

And also, what is the major difference between the Pill and Depo Provera that makes the latter so much easier to take?

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In article <2k3a88$@agate.berkeley.edu>, |>In article <1994Feb18.162032.20@news.cs.indiana.edu> |> |>> I tried to do a literature search on the subject of birth control |>> pills side effects and depression and there really wasn't much.   |>> It's listed as a minor side effect in some literature, but if it |>> happens to you it's pretty major, and it comes on so gradually it's |>> really hard to recognize. |> |>A friend of mine seems to have this side effect, and she didn't seem to have |>it with her previous birth control pills. |>Does anyone have any information about |>this?  Are certain hormones (of the ones commonly found in birth control |>pills) more likely to cause depression than others?  If so, which ones are |>least likely to have these sorts of side effects?  Which are most likely to |>make you depressed?  Feedback from anyone with personal or clinical |>experience would be appreciated.

I'd like more information about this, too.  Can anyone help out? ------------------------------------------------------------------------- To find out more about the anon service, send mail to h@anon.penet.fi. Due to the double-blind, any mail replies to this message will be anonymized, and an anonymous id will be allocated automatically. You have been warned. Please report any problems, inappropriate use etc. to a@anon.penet.fi.

12:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

: |>Does anyone have any information about : |>this?  Are certain hormones (of the ones commonly found in birth control : |>pills) more likely to cause depression than others?  If so, which ones are : |>least likely to have these sorts of side effects?  Which are most likely to : |>make you depressed?  Feedback from anyone with personal or clinical : |>experience would be appreciated.

My midwife has told me that the pill may deplete my level of B-6, and recommended that I take 50-100 mg /day to counteract the depression that may result from this depletion.  I'm sorry I don't know the mechanism of action though.  Good luck.  gerri

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

g@orion.it.luc.edu (Geraldine A. New) writes:

Since I've been on the pill (and its a VERY low dose), I can feel the depression.  And I take 100mg of a B-complex everyday, along with a multi-vitamin and 1000mg of vitamin C.  The vitamins don't seem to help, so I, too, would like to know whats causing or what to do about the depression.

-- ------------- Grace E. McMillan, borrowing access from Paul.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

  Good question.  No good answers that I know of.

  The hormones found in birth control pills are versions of estrogen and progesterone.  (The reason that they aren't exactly the same estrogen and progesterone that your body produces is that they wouldn't survive a trip through your stomach.)  The levels of progesterone and estrogen in women's bodies (and to some extent, in men's) change frequently: at puberty, at menopause, in monthly cycling, and during pregnancy and breast-feeding.  Some women find that at some of these times they are prone to changes in mood (both good and bad).

  Women who have depression or dysthymia (rough definitions:  dysthymia is gray where depression is black) often find that they feel worse premenstrually.

  When you take birth control pills, you are controlling (sort of) the amounts of estrogen and progesterone in your body.  (Sort of, because there are feedback loops that cause your body to, for example, reduce estrogen production if you are taking external estrogen -- isn't this fun?)  But what you don't know is how much estrogen and progesterone your body would like to be producing in the first place, or what effect those levels would have on you.  Everyone seems to have slightly different "normal" levels.  

  So I'm afraid the best I can do is:  yes, some people will get depressed on birth control pills.  It's a SERIOUS effect (as in, potentially fatal. Why do people have so much trouble factoring in suicide as a risk?  It's a leading cause of death in young adults.)  Try switching to a different formulation -- at a wild guess, I'd say to look for one lower in estrogen, but you can argue that in any direction.  Or you may have to go off bcp's.

  One more thing:  when I went off bcp's, which is before I was diagnosed with depression, I didn't get my cycles back.  I had gained a lot of weight on the pill, and my body had gotten confused by ambient estrogen produced by the fat cells.  At this point I became _very_ depressed; the depression was alleviated by reinstating the birth control pills; then I had to go off them due to migraines, and the depression got worse again.  It took a couple of years of antidepressants before I felt okay enough to try weight loss, which eventually did the trick and restored my cycles.

  I THINK that not cycling due to excess estrogen was associated with depression for me.  There's absolutely nothing on this in the literature, no overlap between depression and PCOS.  But we'll see how I feel this summer, when I've been cycling for a while.

  If anyone knows more about any of this, please post!

-- "Lord, she was tall, hair black as midnight; ***     Dawn Friedman She had a way, just like you do,             *** fried@husc.harvard.edu To make me feel just like a woman should;    *** -- Princess Erilicia quotes Can't call it cheatin', cause she reminds me of you." *** the Gin Blossoms                  

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In article <2l0iuk$@scunix2.harvard.edu>

Could variations in hormone levels cause depression?  There are low-dosage birth control pills available nowadays that have three different types of pills to take each month.  Each type of pill has different hormone dosages. For example, Triphasil uses levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol.  You take 0.05/0.03 mg pills for six days, 0.075/0.04 mg pills for five days, then 0.125/0.03 mg pills for ten days, and then no pills for seven days. It seems like this could cause a lot of variation in hormone levels.  If the variations in hormone levels are the cause of the depression, then maybe depressed people shouldn't take these kinds of pills.

Comments? ------------------------------------------------------------------------- To find out more about the anon service, send mail to h@anon.penet.fi. Due to the double-blind, any mail replies to this message will be anonymized, and an anonymous id will be allocated automatically. You have been warned. Please report any problems, inappropriate use etc. to a@anon.penet.fi.

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a previous article, an65@anon.penet.fi () says:



Having been on BC for two years now, I have found that the days when the hormone levels change are the worst for mood swings.  I have been taking Ovcon 35, which is the same for 21 days and then no pills for 7 days.  The two days after I start taking them again every month I get completely irrational and get upset at the slightest things. (Just ask my boyfriend  ;)  )  the same thing happens at the end of the month, when I stop taking them.  

A good friend of mine was on the kind which vary every week, and she thought that she was really losing her mind because she was constantly having mood swings because of the changes. After she talked to the doctor and switched to something constant (can't remember the brand) she didn't have anymore problems.

amanda

1:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been taking Triphasal for a few years, and have gotten progressively worse mood-swings.  My doctor told me to try B-6 and magnesium.  BC pills apparently block the body's absorption of B-6 and magnesium, both of which act as mood stabilizers.  (so, surprise, without them, you get mood swings) The one dose BCP sounds good, or try vitamins.  I take 100 mg of B6 and about the same of magnesium, alternating every day. (I am trying to take as little as possible and remain unmoody).

nora

3:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear from anyone who has had these or other types of mental/behavioral problems as a result of Ortho Novum.

--                          Mark Ivan Nikolic                                                 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign                      mniko@ux4.cso.uiuc.edu

4:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to throw a wrench in the soup, but I'm taking my B vitamins, and I'm on the lowest dosage of hormones possible.  I still have mood swings. Not really swings, but I get really depressed.  Before I was on the pill, there wasn't a problem.  It just goes to show you that there isn't a solution for everyone!

-- ------------- Grace E. McMillan, borrowing access from Paul.

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was on Ortho Novum 1/35 for several years and doing fine.  About a year ago, my practitioner didn't like my blood pressure so she decided to switch me to Ortho Cept, which I think is lower dosage.  I took that for two months and hated it--I was particularly prone to depression during that time, and I'm convinced it was because of the change of prescription.  Fortunately, because of other reasons (I had been given samples and my university pharmacy didn't carry Ortho Cept yet) I was switched to Ortho Cyclen, which hasn't given me any problems.  So it seems that in my case either the change in dosage or the change in progesterone gave me mood problems.

Cillie ------------------------------------------------------------------------- To find out more about the anon service, send mail to h@anon.penet.fi. Due to the double-blind, any mail replies to this message will be anonymized, and an anonymous id will be allocated automatically. You have been warned. Please report any problems, inappropriate use etc. to a@anon.penet.fi.

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about women whose symptoms have been alleviated by the pill?

I have been on and off over a number of years and noticed at the beginning that my light acne cleared up dramatically. Also my premenstrual depression as well as menstrual flow was lighter.

Now I have been on for a while, the periodic acne seems stronger than the hormone control by the pill - I still break out the worst right before I am due to menstruate, and clear up the week later. But the mood swings (not just depression, actually; sometimes wild elation) and the heaviness of flow are still much relieved.

Heather (taking Ortho-Novum 7-7-7 if it matters)

11:08 AM  

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