Depression is a mental illness that is characterized by the three main symptoms of "low mood", loss of interest and lack of drive. It can arise from the inside of the body itself as well as from external factors such as the use of medication. Depending on its severity In terms of mood and character change, a distinction is made between mild, moderate and severe depression.

Read more on this topic: How can you recognize depression? and signs of depression

What influence does the pill have on depression?

The birth control pill is a hormone preparation that women have been using as a method of contraception for a long time. The aim of the small tablet is to prevent the woman from ovulating so that no egg can be fertilized. For this, however, it is necessary to intervene in the body's regulated hormonal balance. The artificial supply of the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone causes hormone levels that do not correspond to the natural cycle-dependent values.

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The increased estrogen levels in particular could explain the increased occurrence of depression when taking the contraceptive pill. The hormone estrogen can reduce the release of our happiness hormone serotonin. The resulting serotonin deficiency can in turn manifest itself in a depressed mood or lack of drive.

Read more on this topic: The role of serotonin in depression

In women using birth control pills, the development of depression is observed especially when they start taking it. Over time, the body gets used to the artificial supply of female sex hormones and can adapt. In the first six months, however, depression is a common side effect that occurs in one to ten out of a hundred women and is therefore a "common side effect" according to the package insert.

In this context, it is important to clarify that the most common first prescriptions are during puberty. During this period, the hormonal balance of every growing woman is in a process of change. With the maturation of female sexual characteristics and the onset of the first bleeding, the female body is figuratively flooded with hormones. Until the release of the hormones has normalized again, the condition can be seen as constantly changing. If young women take the contraceptive pill relatively quickly after the onset of their first menstrual period, they are in a development phase that is naturally characterized by strong mood swings. If additional hormones are then given from the outside through the pill, the effect of the hormones increases. In addition to changing feelings, there can also be changes in weight, for example. Depression is therefore seldom caused solely by taking the pill. Rather, it can promote the development of depression in the case of genetic predispositions and additional external factors such as stress.

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Read more on the topic: Premenstrual syndrome despite taking the pill

Depression from stopping the pill?

Stopping the pill usually does not cause depression. It is wrong to assume that there will be a hormone deficiency when stopping the pill. It usually only takes a few days for the female sex hormones to regain their cycle-dependent levels.

The artificial supply through the contraceptive pill only manipulated the maturation of the egg cell and ovulation while it was being taken by suppressing the actual control hormones. If no more hormones are added artificially, the control hormones recognize the drop in hormone concentration and cause an increase in the body's own production. However, this is then adapted to the woman's cycle and ultimately causes ovulation again.

The body's own fluctuations in hormone levels do not affect the psyche in the form of depression, but more physically on the mucous membrane of the uterus and the breast. Mental changes in the form of mood swings before menstruation are more like irritability than deep depression. If, despite this, depression occurs after stopping the pill, one should above all question the reasons for stopping the contraceptive. If a desire to have children does not come true and reactively leads to a depressive episode, the pill is not the cause of the depression. Personal motives must therefore always be questioned.

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Read more on this topic: What happens if you stop taking the pill?

Which accompanying symptoms are typical?

Depression is characterized by the three symptoms "depressed mood", loss of interest and listlessness. However, not all three symptoms have to be present at the same time for a diagnosis of depression. It is sufficient if two main symptoms are present with additional secondary symptoms. The secondary symptoms include sleep disorders, for example Each type counted. Typically for a depression is usually an increased need for sleep that usually exceeds ten hours of sleep in an adult. Despite the increased rest phases, there is a typical "morning low", which often leads to a postponed day-night In addition, the quality of sleep is not good and is characterized by problems falling asleep or staying asleep.

Furthermore, attention disorders often occur in the context of depression. Those affected notice this above all in everyday working life in the form of a decline in concentration that goes hand in hand with making more mistakes. And last but not least, another symptom is the loss of self-confidence, which can manifest itself in many ways. Those affected often lose their self-esteem and make unfounded accusations of having acted wrongly. In the extreme case, these recurring thoughts can lead to an intention to commit suicide. This is the most dreaded complication of depression that must be treated by a doctor.

Read more on this topic: Symptoms of depression

What can you do about depression with the pill?

The therapy for depression depends on its severity. The principle applies that medication should only be given to patients with moderate depression. In the case of mild forms, a careful wait of about two weeks by the family doctor or psychotherapy may be indicated.

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Read also: Therapy for depression

There are different approaches when the depression occurs after taking the birth control pill. The treatment depends on whether contraception using the contraceptive pill is still desired. If this is the case, the preparation should not be changed. The pill should therefore continue to be taken as usual and, if necessary, the depression should be treated in parallel. Changing a preparation usually does not promise any improvement, since in most cases only the coating materials of the pill types differ. In this case, however, the cause of the depression is the hormone composition in the pill, which is almost the same for the various preparations. A change of the preparation would only cause the general side effects such as the increased risk of thrombosis when starting the other anti-baby pill.

Furthermore, studies have shown that the risk of depression is only increased in the first six months. After the initial period of use, the risk returns to that of the normal population. If a woman suffers from depression due to the use of contraception, she can of course stop using it immediately. However, this does not usually change the length of the depression. However, if there is a genetic predisposition to depression, this measure can reduce the risk of depression coming back.

Depression from the morning-after pill

The morning-after pill is a hormone preparation for emergency contraception after unprotected sexual intercourse. It usually consists of the active ingredient levonorgestrel or ulipristil acetate. Both active ingredients postpone ovulation in women by around five days. The survival time of sperm is around three to four days, which prevents fertilization of the egg.

The development of depression is not justified by taking the morning-after pill. It is only taken once in the form of a tablet. Their effect on the hormonal balance is therefore only limited to a few days. Rather, it is the psychological stress caused by unprotected sex and the fear of an unwanted pregnancy that can lead to depression. Personal fears and conflicts are more likely to favor the development of depression than taking the morning-after pill.

How should I use contraception?

There is no silver bullet for the best form of contraception. Rather, it is important to weigh up which contraception method is best in each individual case. However, if a woman wants to use contraception herself, hormone preparations are the only safe option. However, every woman should decide for herself whether they act on the female cycle in the form of the contraceptive pill, a coil or a vaginal ring.

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The user should be aware of the side effects of any intake of female hormones. Above all, the increased risk of thrombosis should be carefully considered. This is present every time a new hormone preparation is started and continues to exist in the further course of therapy. In addition, if foreign bodies, such as the coil, are introduced into the uterus, the risk of infections or allergic reactions to the material is increased. The correct location and a timely change must also be guaranteed.

No side effects are to be expected with contraception using condoms. However, there is a risk here that the condom can tear. The risk of an unwanted pregnancy is slightly higher compared to taking the pill.

The safety of any contraceptive also depends on how it is used. Conscientious use or regular consumption increase protection.

Duration of depression from the pill

The duration of a depression cannot be precisely stated, as it depends very much on the individual case. In addition, the improvement depends heavily on the response to a possible therapy. In general, however, studies have shown that untreated moderate to severe depression lasts for four to six months. If the therapy is successful, the duration can be shortened to about two months. Mild depression can last for just a few weeks.

How often can I get depression from the pill?

If a user stays with the same preparation, she can theoretically only get depression once from the pill. With each change of preparation, however, there is a new risk of developing depression, since the change of medication is always associated with a break in taking. In general, you have to know that, according to studies, there is a 20-30 percent high risk of developing another depressive phase if you have been affected once. Thus, the risk of a new depressive phase is not limited to just one factor like the pill.

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