Warning: distressing themes including self harm. Support links below
It’s no longer big news that hormonal contraceptives are linked to depression. Drugs have side effects – we get it. If we take a pill or have a coil inserted and we start to feel MENTAL; we should stop using it and find a different one. No harm done…
Supposed experts are claiming we are in a ‘monumental global mental health crisis’; which sounds like scare-mongering to me, but does suggest that maybe we shouldn’t be dabbling in things that affect our mental state quite so liberally. (Unless you’re in wellies with yesterday’s glitter smeared across you).
Mature brain structures are like well established highway systems, change can occur but usually only to the side streets (the neuronal dendrites and synapses). The younger you are the less established your neural highways are. This is why traumatic experiences in early life can have more of a lasting impact than if they were to happen in adulthood.
Furthermore, as a teenager you are developing your sense of self – your idea of who you are in relationships, sexually and otherwise. Even if you attribute a bout of depression or anxiety to your hormonal contraception; the notion that you are ‘someone who experiences mental health problems’ may become an unhelpful new belief.
Regardless of age, patterns of habitual negative thinking can be hard to break, so if a drug causes an intense psychological reaction (aversion to your partner, depression, obsessive thinking) you may find yourself drifting back to these patterns, long after the drugs have left your system. Although happily, because of our brain’s flexible nature, we are incredibly receptive to positive change and healing too.
The use of hormonal contraceptives over a lifetime is essentially a new and poorly monitored experiment that we are conducting on girls, and now we have discovered that using them increases risk of suicidal thoughts, particularly if you’re young. Fuck.
know the facts:
- About 4 million women use a hormonal contraceptive in the UK
- 25% of girls have used hormonal contraception by age 15
- Up to age 11; depression levels are the same for boys and girls. But by age 14; 9% of boys and 24% of girls have depressive symptoms
- UK 2017 rates of suicide for men and women decreased overall by ~3%
fancy some drugs to help you with those drugs ma’am?
Please note: The Samaratins advise that there is no simple explanation for why someone chooses to die by suicide and it is rarely due to one particular factor. It is a complex social inequality and public health issue, with devastating consequences for bereaved friends, family and acquaintances. Research shows that irresponsible reporting of these issues can negatively affect vulnerable groups, and that young people are especially affected by media coverage. Please see the list of links below if you need support ❣
Hormonal contraception is one small piece of the puzzle, not everyone is taking it and not everyone feels bad from it, but we should not disregard the impact it is having.
Nor should we ignore its effect on men. Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who is struggling to cope with life? It sure as hell has an effect on your wellbeing too. Even if a contraceptive just changes how attracted your partner is to you; this can be deeply upsetting and confusing.
Lest we forget what the whole point of taking these drugs is: to avoid having to use condoms! A significant proportion of our entire population is taking mood altering drugs for this reason – anyone think we should reconsider if it’s worth it?
Samaritans Contact: Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them
Gov.uk advises: Resources are also available online. “U can Cope” includes a film and resources that are designed for people in distress and those trying to support them, to instil hope, promote appropriate self-help and inform people regarding useful strategies and how they can access help and support. “Staying safe if you’re not sure life’s worth living” includes practical, compassionate advice and many useful links for people in distress.