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Can Birth Control Cause Depression? – 7 Ways Birth Control Pills Are Causing Depression

Hey everybody Dr Hagmeyer here and today I want to talk about 7 ways Birth control pills cause depression and anxiety.

Some of The latest studies show 40 million American suffer with anxiety and 18 million Americans suffer with depression. To give meaning to those numbers- ….NYC (as of 2018) has a population of 8, 622,000 people. Imagine almost 5 NYC where every single person in the city is walking around depressed. Imagine 2 NYC where every single person is walking around suffers with anxiety.

These numbers are unacceptable! And while there are various reasons for depression and anxiety, I want to share with you several ways birth control pills will either cause depression and anxiety or they will PREVENT you from overcoming your depression and anxiety.

These things I will be sharing with you through today’s video, are by no means my discovery, the medical community is well aware of these problems- it’s just that most doctors today refuse to discuss them with their patient’s and it’s much easier to write a prescription for antidepressants and anxiety pills. Lets face it, that takes about 5 minutes to do. But this is now what health care should be!

So in Today’s video- 7 ways the pill causes depression your going to learn about

  • Something called oxidative stress, what it is, what it does, how oxidative stress is tied into depression, how we test for it and I will show you some examples of the medical studies showing the link between depression, anxiety and oxidative stress.
  • Your going to learn how the Pill Affects Testosterone levels and why testosterone is important for woman who suffer with depression.
  • Your going to learn how the Pill affects Thyroid levels and the connection between low Thyroid and depression.
  • We will get into the affects the pill has on Serotonin levels– Serotonin is one our feel good chemicals made in the brain and in the gut- that is associated with happiness, mood, social behavior, appetite, sleep, memory, sexual desire, pain threshold.
  • I’ll spend some time explaining the relationship between the pill and copper levels and the role copper plays in depression and anxiety. And finally,
  • Your going to learn about the connection between the pill and how its tied into inflammation and blood sugar handling.

All of these problems induced by the pill could be the reason why you or your loved one is not getting better and possibly why your mental health is deteriorating year after year.

One of the most important things I want you to realize and if you are taking notes- then you want to write this down, #1 is that We have to look at the Bigger picture and understand that both anxiety and depression have multiple causes-

If depression was caused only by a Neurotransmitter shortage, then taking SSRI’s like Paxil, Prozac, Lexapro, Zoloft antidepressants or other variations of medications would fix your depression and that would be the end of your depression! But that NEVER happens.

There’s is a lot to unpack here in today’s video, but it’s my hope that you will gain an appreciation into these topics we are going to dive into and

If you or a loved one is suffering, why you should consider ALSO working with a Functional Medicine doctor to investigate these potential problems and really work on healing your brain and your body. Alright? Let jump in! Here’s what happens, so When you take oral, transdermal and vaginal contraceptives there are number of consequences that doctors in western medicine- typically overlook or disregard- and

It’s these details that could possibly change your life forever!

#1 and #2 When you take the pill, you are flooding your body with unnatural, synthetic hormones and these synthetic hormones will affects your Thyroid and affect your Testosterone levels- both of which can cause depression.

By taking the pill, IUD with hormones, patches all of these can increase something called SEX Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) and increase Thyroid Binding Globulin (TBG)

The Pill increases SHBG and TBG.

The best way to understand SHBG and TBG is to think of them like taxi cabs. Hormones, hitch a ride though our bodies by attaching to these proteins or taxi cabs.

SHBG (Sex Hormone Binding Globulin) is a protein made by your liver and It binds tightly to Three sex hormones found in both men and women. The three hormones that it binds to very tightly are basically your Estrogens and your Androgens

  1. Estrogen;
  2. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and
  3. Testosterone

Here’s why you should ask your doctor test you for SHBG.

  1. Low libido/sex drive
  2. Fatigued,
  3. Trouble focusing and staying on task
  4. Hair loss or more likely your hair is not growing as quickly as it once did
  5. Depression and or Anxiety

If those symptoms sounds familiar, testing your SHBG levels can offer insight into the hormonal imbalances associated with Low testosterone caused by the pill. Now…

(Androgens are male steroid hormones) and YES woman make them and they also ABSOLUTELY need them!

Here is a study from the Journal of Sex Medicine titled,  “Impact of oral contraceptives on sex hormone binding globulin and androgen levels- a retrospective study in woman with sexual dysfunction.”

While so much emphasis in woman is placed on the levels of Estrogen and Progesterone as the main culprits of sexual dysfunction, it’s easy to overlook Testosterone, and DHT. If you look here, I summarized some of the most common symptoms in women associated with low Testosterone.

Image result for women low testosterone

Now, I want to show you some testing from a recent patient and the reason I show you this… is that this could be happening to you! But you would never know, unless you’re doctor run these tests for you.

A little back story on this patient.

This woman is in her mid 30’s, she has suffered with lifelong depression that started in her late teens, into her 20’ and 30’s.

In her EARLY teens she did NOT have depression, but she had a ton of hormonal symptoms- she had heavy bleeding, she would gain weight, she would have poor concentration, she would become irritable and moods. All of your typical PMS symptoms. So here doctor did what most doctor do and he prescribed her “The Pill”

Fast forward 6 years, she now began experiencing Depression and Anxiety, gained even more weight from the pill, found herself exhausted, and began having weekly headaches. So now, her doctor began prescribing Imitrex medication for her headaches.

Perhaps this sounds a lot like your story, but the more woman I work with, this seems to be common practice. Rather than doctors looking at the root cause of the problem, Dr’s prescribe pill after pill. So….Remember what we said just a moment ago, “The Pill” elevates Sex Hormone Binding Globulin and it lowers testosterone and DHT.

You can see here levels of DHT are less than 5 the range is 5-46, and her sex hormone binding globulin levels are 385.5 where the range is 24.6-122.0)


Because of the high SHBG, she suffers with fatigue, loss of libido, anxiety, depression and it all makes sense and explains why she just sits on the couch and is not motivated to do anything.

Another study in human Reproduction 2014 titled “The effect of oral contraception on testosterone levels in healthy woman- a systematic review and meta analysis” showed again,

Oral contraceptives decrease

  1. Levels of total Testosterone
  2.  Decrease free Testosterone and they
  3. Increasing SHBG concentrations.


If You Are Taking The Pill- Have Your Doctor Test You For…..

  1. Sex hormone binding globulin
  2. Total Testosterone
  3. Free Testosterone levels tested- its that simple!

So that’s the first problem we see. The pill lowers testosterone, but are those problems only from the pill? What about the other forms of oral contraceptives ? Let’s take a look at another study. This one is from Human reproduction- 2012 titled,

Very quickly another problem emerges with hormonal based contraceptives. From this study not only does oral contraceptive cause problems, but now vaginal rings and IUDs as well as contraceptive patches cause

  1. chronic inflammation and
  2. Impaired Insulin Sensitivity

If you are a woman with PCOS better known as Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome or a woman with Endometriosis,

the two things you don’t want are inflammation and impaired insulin sensitivity. Because both of these will not only cause more PCOS but both will also cause Depression and anxiety.


“Blood sugar dysregulation and inflammation are two of the most common denominators that we see in EVERY chronic disease especially anxiety and depression.”

What Happens to Your SHBG Levels When You Stop Taking Taking The Pill?

50% of women who have PCOS suffer with depression and for these women the pill can be disastrous. One last thing I want you to be aware of when it comes to stopping the pill. You should know that it can take months and sometime years for these SHBG levels to come down to normal levels.

This means you could suffer with symptoms such as low libido, fatigue, brain fog, chronic pain, blood sugar problems, depression for months after discontinuing the pill. So just be aware of that!

So just a quick recap, so far I have showed you how the Pill binds up testosterone, it causes inflammation, it can cause blood sugar problems, all potential culprits in the BIG picture of depression and anxiety.

Let’s talk A Bit More About The Connection Between Hypothyroidism And Depression.

Fatty Acid Profile 1

When a woman takes the pill, the high levels of estrogen that are designed to block ovulation can increase Thyroid binding globulin and this can ultimately leave a woman in a low Thyroid state also known as Hypothyroidism

If you are woman are you are convinced that your symptoms sound like a thyroid problem but your doctor has told you that your thyroid is “ok”, Everything is “Normal”, I highly recommend that you get a Comprehensive Thyroid panel including testing for low T3 as well as TBG levels.

Earlier, I mentioned that hormone in our body travel or hitch a ride in taxi cabs, in fact each hormone whether it be

(Cortisol, Thyroid, Estrogen and Testosterone) all of these hormones either share or have their own taxi cab-

  • Estrogen, DHT, and testosterone hitch rides around the body by SHBG.
  • Thyroid hormones hitch a ride around the body by TBG Thyroxine-binding globulin.

Another problem with Birth control pills is that the high levels of estrogen found in the pill also increases the number of Thyroid taxi cabs- TBG!

When you have high levels of TBG- all your thyroid hormones will be bound up and attached to these taxi cabs, this ultimately leaves you in a state of hypothyroidism all while your thyroid levels may be”normal.”

Image result for low Thyroid symptoms

So what do you do if you suspect that there may be some connection between the pill you are taking and your Thyroid?

I highly recommend that you work with a Certified Functional Medicine Doctor who will run a complete thyroid panel including Thyroid binding globulin.

If you have never heard of Functional Medicine I will leave a link at end of this video where you can learn more about Functional Medicine.

So far we have talked about

  1. Low Test and Depression caused by the Pill
  2. We talked about The pill causing inflammation,
  3. We have talked about blood sugar problems caused by the pill
  4. And we talked about low Thyroid symptoms due to elevated Thyroid binding Globulin caused by the pill can lead to depression and anxiety.

Problem #5 With Birth Control Pills Depression

The other problems that we see with birth control pills (problem #5,) and something I like to test for when working with woman who have Depression along with hormonal imbalances is something called Oxidative stress.

Image result for oxidative stress and depression

Oxidative Stress and Depression

Since most people have never heard of oxidative stress as it related to Depression and anxiety, Let’s talk for just a moment about oxidative stress

  • What is it,
  • Why you need to know about it,
  • How to test for it and
  • It’s connection to depression and anxiety

First off, Oxidative stress is a destructive force on the cells in your body and it happens when you don’t have sufficient amount of antioxidants due to poor diet, poor absorption underlying inflammatory condition in the body.

While that might not seem like a big deal-it’s a huge problem to the integrity of the cells in your body. I like to use this illustration of an apple when explaining oxidative stress to my patients.


We all have apples in our house sitting on our kitchen table. As long as you don’t bite into that apple and disturb the outer skin of the apple, that apple will keep fresh for several weeks and perhaps even a month or two.

But have you ever noticed that when you take a bit out of that apple, within just a few short minutes, that apple begins to turn brown. If you left that apple on the kitchen table for a week it would be rotten. That’s Oxidative stress! But when it happens in your body- that oxidative stress is damaging the cells and causing disease at the cellular level. One way we measure oxidative stress is by measuring lipid peroxidation,

How We Test For Oxidative Stress

Take a look at this test that I was run on the same patient we spoke of earlier! What you notice is that her lipid peroxides are off the chart elevated. This marker coupled with several other markers indicates oxidative stress.

Woman who take birth control pills, have higher levels of oxidative stress when compared to woman who don’t take them.  This study also found that when these woman supplemented with antioxidants, levels of oxidative stress decreased. Another study that I think deserves attention is this one that you see here,

This study compared three different contraceptive methods (Oral contraceptives, vaginal ring, and transdermal patch) and what the effects were on;

  1. Coenzyme Q(10),
  2. Vitamin E levels.
  3. Glutathione levels

The reason why this study is so important is because it demonstrates and points out that ALL three methods (Pill, Patch and Ring) ALL three forms of contraception significantly lowered the anti-oxidant status increasing ones risk for Oxidative Stress.

Before we move on, I want to show you three quick studies showing the link between oral contraceptives, oxidative stress and anxiety/depression.

Oxidative stress and Psychological Disorders study 1- Current Neuropharmacology


Markers of Oxidative stress and Neuroprogression in Depression Disorder study 2



And a study titled Is depression associated with increased Oxidative stress? A systematic review and meta analysis. Study 3

So again just as a recap- up to this point, I’ve showed you how the Pill

  1. Increase in SHBG, leaving the body in a low androgen state and we showed you how low androgens can cause Depression.
  2. I’ve showed you how the pill Increases TBG (Thyroid Binding Globulin) and how low thyroid or Hypothyroidism is associated with Depression, I’ve showed you
  3. How birth control pills, patches and hormonal IUD can affect blood sugar and Insulin sensitivity we know these are tied into depression and anxiety
  4. I’ve also showed you how birth control pills cause oxidative stress and oxidative stress leads to depression, anxiety.

Birth Control Pills, Patches Also Cause Chronic Inflammation

Another problem we see related to The Pill and Depression and I briefly mentioned it earlier in today’s video, was that all three forms of contraception studied (oral, transdermal and vaginal)- ALL of them can induce chronic inflammation and blood sugar problems.

When it comes to Inflammation, we know that various vitamins play a major role in regulating and keeping inflammation under control in our body. You can see from this illustration all the vitamins that are key player.

inflammation - infographic

What you may not know is the connection between The Pill and certain nutritional deficiencies associated with taking the Pill.

Because the Pill robs our body of many critical vitamins such as

  1. Zinc,
  2. Selenium,
  3. Magnesium,
  4. Vitamin E,
  5. CoQ10,
  6. B6,
  7. B12 and
  8. folate levels

We recommend getting these levels tested if you suffer with Depression and Anxiety- We can help!

Checking For Inflammation- Why You Need This Test

One of the ways we check for inflammation is by testing for a marker called Homocysteine.

The Big things you should know about Homocysteine is that more and more researchers are starting to look at depression as not a problem related to serotonin deficiency, but rather a problem where the brain is inflamed and being exposed to oxidative stress and here is where many of your B vitamin are so critical. Various B vitamins play an important role in the metabolism or “breaking down” Homocysteine.

Here is a study from 2008 Journal of Psychiatric research titled “Depressive Symptoms may explain elevated plasma levels of Homocysteine in females with eating disorders.” Many studies have looked at this connection between Homocysteine and depression and are confirming the link between

depression and inflammation.

As you can see from these studies, this is something that definitely should grab your attention if you or a loved one is taking the pill and also suffers with depression and anxiety.


What You Need To Know About Homocysteine

Image result for homocysteine and strokes


  1. If you are on the pill or any other method of contraception (rings, patches, pills) you should ask your doctor to check your Homocysteine levels.
  2. You might be wondering what’s a good level or range for Homocysteine?
  3. I like to see Homocysteine levels around 7, lab ranges from Labcorp or Quest show 0-15 being the range, but when you really dig into the research optimal levels around 7 and that should be your goal.
  4. If these levels are elevated that’s a sign of systemic inflammation in your brain and heart and it could be a very serious problem if you have symptoms like depression, anxiety Insomnia,
  5. If you do have high levels, very next thing you want to do is get tested for a mutation in the MTHFR. If you want more information on this- I have a three part video series on MTHFR that explains what it is in simple language
  6. If you look at this illustration showing the effects of oxidative stress you can see why I believe so strongly in testing for oxidative stress as well as Homocysteine levels.

CAD= Coronary Artery Disease

There Are Two More Things I Want You To Know About When It Comes To Depression, Anxiety and The PILL

Birth control pills are also known for disrupting Tryptophan metabolism. Tryptophan is a very important amino acid because Tryptophan

is needed to make two very important chemicals that I’m sure you have heard of.

When you feel sad or depressed, anxious, when you can’t think straight, irritable, can’t focus- one of the main neurotransmitters that is associated with these feelings is serotonin.

When you can’t sleep at night, perhaps you reach for your melatonin supplements. Remember, both (serotonin and melatonin) are made from Tryptophan and when you use birth control pills, the pill can disrupt your “feel good” chemicals and the chemicals that regulate your sleep cycle.

This illustration that you see here, shows how Serotonin and Melatonin are made from Tryptophan.

The Pill and Copper Toxicity/ Copper Overload.

Copper overload has become increasingly common problem, due in part to the widespread use of oral contraceptives containing estrogen Other health conditions associated with copper overload include things like acne, allergies, Candida overgrowth, hypothyroidism, anemia, hair loss, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, migraines and male infertility. The reason that copper is linked with such a long and varied list of conditions is that copper is absolutely essential to the proper functioning of your;

#1 Immune system

#2 Endocrine system, and

#3 Nervous system.

Copper is a co-factor in the chemical reaction which converts dopamine to norepinephrine. So if you look here at the dopamine pathway, when you have to much copper (from the pill)

You will have more norepinephrine and epinephrine (adrenaline). We have all heard of adrenaline- Adrenaline can cause feelings of agitation, anxiety and panic, overstimulation, racing thoughts, restlessness, and insomnia.

In other words, it revs up the nervous system into a state of overdrive or the fight vs flight response. Couple of things I want to show you here, because you may be thinking that this only affects women who are using a copper IUD’s.

If we look at this study that comes from European Journal of Clinical Nutrition- we can see that elevated copper levels were found in ALL users of ALL types of oral contraceptives. Not some users but in all users!

Another study from Contraception 2013 shows that the pill can increase copper levels to the point of causing oxidative stress. Now we talked about Oxidative stress just earlier.

So if you are woman who it taking the pill and you are struggle with these symptoms, I highly suggest you get your copper levels tested to rule out copper overload. This is something so simple to do because it can be done in a simple blood draw that most women have done during a yearly physical. So, again, take a look at some of these symptoms! If you can relate to these, do you really need an antidepressant? Or an anti-anxiety pill? Or do you think you may need to address copper toxicity

Do You Struggle with Signs of Copper Toxicity/Copper Overload?

Birth Control Pills Cause Estrogen Dominance and Estrogen Dominance Causes Copper Retention.

One of the problems…… and I have talked about this almost every time I talk about hormonal imbalances is this concept of birth control Image result for zinc and copper balancepills and estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance causes copper retention and accumulation of copper in the body, which can eventually result in toxic overload or copper toxicity.

We also know that the pill and other methods of contraception cause zinc deficiencies– Zinc and Copper work together!

When Zinc is low Copper is typically elevated. So if you have low zinc levels as many people do, due to poor diet or poor absorption and you take the pill which is known to cause zinc deficiency and copper overload- you have just created another potential scenario for depression and anxiety!

If You suspect Copper Overload Or Copper Toxicity- Have Your Doctor Run these Tests

If you can relate to these symptoms that you see associated with copper toxicity, I recommend that you talk to your doctor about getting your

  1. Zinc,
  2. Copper
  3. Ceruloplasmin

Ceruloplasmin is a protein made in your liver and it stores and carries anywhere from 60-90% of the mineral copper around your body. If you have low levels of ceruloplasmin and low levels of Zinc, you will have a large percentage of unbound copper in your blood and we know that high levels of unbound copper cause oxidative stress in the body-and we talked about that just a moment ago. Well if you made it all the way to the end of this video- congratulations! I know this was a long one, but there was so much information I wanted to share with you. I also know how tough it can be if you have depression. Most conventional western doctors are not interested in truly doing the investigative work in order to get to the root cause of chronic health problems and this is especially true for mental health problems.

If you are suffering with depression or anxiety- Please work with a Functional Medicine doctor who will be willing to put in the time digging into these areas and find out what is causing your depression. Mental health is a serious problem and I truly believe that there are answers out there. There are solutions! Life is such a gift and no one should have to struggle with this.

Please don’t give up! Hang in there until you find the right doctor.

Till Next time! Take care.

Below is a list of various nutrients that affect a person affected with depression.

  • Chromium – Elevates serotonin (feel-good neurotransmitter) levels in the brain; May be particularly effective on eating symptoms of depression such as carbohydrate craving and increased appetite, due to its effect on blood sugar regulation.
  • CoQ10 – The pill as well as antidepressants depletes CoQ10. This can lead to poor focus, brain fog and lethargy.
  • Magnesium – Deficiency damages NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors in the brain, which regulate mood; Well-documented anti-depressant effects.
  • Vitamin B12 – Depression may be a manifestation of B12 deficiency; Repletion of B12 to adequate levels can improve treatment response; B12 deficiency common in psychiatric disorders.
  • Vitamin B6 – Cofactor for serotonin and dopamine production (feel good chemicals); Studies indicate that low levels may predispose people to depression.
  • Vitamin B2 – Low B2 has been implicated in depression due to its role in methylation reactions in the brain.
  • Vitamin D – Clinical trials suggest increasing blood levels of vitamin D, which is actually a hormone precursor, may improve symptoms of depression.
  • Carnitine – Increases serotonin and noradrenaline which lift mood; In trials, carnitine alleviates depression with few, if any, side effects.
  • Inositol – Influences signaling pathways in the brain; Particularly effective in SSRI  (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) sensitive disorders.
  • Biotin – Part of the B-vitamin complex, biotin deficiency has induced depression in animal and human studies.
  • Antioxidants – Oxidative stress in the brain alters neurotransmitter function; Antioxidants protect our brain, which is very sensitive to oxidation; Several antioxidants – Vitamins A, C and E, Lipoic Acid, CoQ10, Glutathione and Cysteine – play a key role in prevention and treatment of depression.
  • Serine – Regulates brain chemistry; Involved in NMDA receptor function; Acts as a neurotransmitter; Low levels correlate with severity of depression.
  • Zinc – Improves efficacy of antidepressant drugs; Particularly useful for treatment resistant patients; Regulates neurotransmitters. Zinc Carnosine also helps with gut healing.
  • Selenium – Integral part of regulatory proteins (selenoproteins) in the brain; Supplementation trials are promising; May alleviate postpartum depression.

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