Does Birth Control Make You Moody? How To Manage Your Mood 2023

Jennifer Olejarz

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

does birth control make you moody

Almost every woman has either heard a story from their friend about their experiences with side effects or experienced something themselves after taking the birth control pill. Hormonal birth control, in general, comes with a long list of potential side effects, making us all wonder just how healthy it really is. 

Currently, the number one reason why women stop taking the pill is because of its emotional side effects.[1] Research specifically on its causal relationship with depression is growing, too. However, many women wonder if even small mood shifts can be attributed to hormonal and contraceptives. 

Read on to find out — does birth control make you moody?

Does Birth Control Give You Mood Swings?

A mood swing[2] is when your emotions fluctuate, sometimes suddenly and severely. They’re normal and something we all experience, but many women seem to notice it more after beginning hormonal contraception. Specifically, about 10 percent of women[3] noticed negative mood effects after taking the birth control pill. 

Different hormonal contraceptives affect moods to varying degrees. There’s a higher risk in progesterone-only[4] forms of birth control, including the intrauterine device or IUD. The risk further increases for teens 15 to 19 and with non-oral forms, such as the patch, ring, and IUD. 

Does Birth Control Make You More Emotional Or Depressed?

Systematic reviews[5] show that most research on the topic hasn’t been of high enough quality to confirm anything with certainty. 

However, there are a few high-quality studies showing a strong increase in the risk of depression with all types of hormonal contraception. One study,[6] for example, followed over a million Danish women from the age of 15 to 34 and found that those who used oral contraceptives, especially adolescents, were associated with a diagnosis of depression and using antidepressants. While the results show a relationship rather than a confirmation, it gives evidence of the serious possibility that taking hormonal birth control can cause depression.  

If you’ve been feeling more upset than usual, you might also wonder, does birth control make you angry, too? Studies show[7] it can alter how your brain functions and responds to stress, making it possible to feel angrier. 

What Causes Mood Changes?

While hormonal contraceptives may be the cause of your mood swings, there are other factors that might also be at play, such as: 

  • Stress. 
  • Trauma. 
  • Weather. 
  • Medication.  
  • New routine.
  • Change in diet. 
  • Difficulty sleeping. 
  • A chronic condition. 
  • Substance abuse; alcohol, drugs, etc. 

For most people, stress is the primary reason behind mood swings. It can make you sleep and eat worse, exacerbating mood swings and lead to depression and anxiety.

Can Birth Control Make You Tired And Moody?

On top of possible mood swings and disorders, hormonal contraception might make you more tired. Fatigue is a side effect and is included in the long list of potential side effects for most hormonal birth control options, including the pill, ring, and shot. Insomnia and daytime sleepiness was common complaint in a study of over 2000 women[8] between 18 and 40 years of age. 

Of course, it depends on the individual. Some studies show how hormonal birth control is helping some women to sleep more efficiently.[9] So, while the research may seem conflicting, the reality is that it depends on many other factors, such as lifestyle, stress, genetics, other mood disorders, etc. 

When To See A Doctor

If you’re noticing any of these signs or depressive symptoms, it’s time to contact your doctor to see the cause behind your mood swings:

  • Constant weeping. 
  • Inability to sleep or eat well. 
  • Trouble maintaining relationships. 
  • Frequent or severe mood changes. 
  • Difficulty carrying on with daily activities. 
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

For many, mood changes can be a sign of another underlying condition, such as an illness or chronic health condition,[10] like diabetes, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, early menopause, or thyroid disorders. 

These symptoms may also indicate a mood disorder,[11] such as major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. 

A history of depression can also make you more likely[12] to have mood swings or a worsening mood when taking birth control pills.

If thoughts of self-harm or suicide arise, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or text HOME to 741741. Help is available 24/7, so if friends or loved ones aren’t available, know that you always have someone to talk to. 

How Does Birth Control Affect Your Mood?

Most hormonal contraceptives contain estrogen and progestin, two lab-made hormones that alter your body’s hormones’ natural ebbs and flows. 

A typical menstrual cycle[13] lasts about 28 days, with estrogen levels peaking around day 14. This is when women feel at their best, both emotionally and physically. With contraception, the natural rise and fall are altered, with an even increase in estrogen and progestin during 21 days and a sharp drop for the last seven days, to create the false period. 

For some women, these hormones can balance their moods since they avoid the usual falls and rises. Some women with premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder noticed fewer mood swings[14] and physical side effects such as cramps or tender breasts when taking the pill. 

However, the amount and type of progestin in the pill may be directly related to depression.[12] Older formulas have ethinylestradiol, which is also linked to severe mood problems. Newer pills have a form of estrogen that may be better tolerated. 

In particular, these are some other ways hormonal birth control can affect your mood: 

Nutrition Deficiencies

Hormonal contraceptives can reduce your folate,[15] magnesium,[16] and zinc[17] levels. These minerals are all tied to energy production, making you feel more tired and cranky. As well, any of these deficiencies can lead to not just mood swings but also mood disorders, like major depression. 

On top of that, birth control can also diminish many B vitamins[18] and vitamin C.[19] These vitamin deficiencies have long been tied to depression, anxiety, mood, and countless other health conditions. 

Brain Function Changes

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, or HPA axis,[20] is essential to help the body respond to stress. It comprises the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands – all central to emotional and stress responses. Unfortunately, the HPA axis may be blunted by the pill, which can lead to mental health issues due to the body’s inability to respond well to stress. 

Neurotramistter Disruptions

Neurotransmitter chemicals needed to communicate with the body can also be affected. Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA,[21] is an inhibitor neurotransmitter that can help you feel more relaxed, just like yoga or meditation. With the pill, however, GABA receptors don’t work as well, which can make you feel easily overwhelmed, anxious, and depressed. In general. Low GABA levels are related to mood disorders like bipolar disorder, depression, and panic disorder. 

The low levels of estrogen and stimulated progesterone for the 21 days on the pill can also affect your reward system. Estrogen can make rewards even more enjoyable, but with low levels throughout the first 21 days, your reward system can be dampened throughout. At the same time, added progesterone[22] can also reduce the satisfaction of a reward. Naturally, if pleasure is less pleasurable,[4] it’s easier to get upset or depressed more quickly. 

How To Treat Mood Changes

Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do to reduce the severity and frequency of mood swings, such as: 

Healthy Lifestyle

does birth control make you moody

Slowly creating healthy habits can drastically change your emotional and physical responses to stress. The most important areas to work on are:

  • Diet — eating nutrient-dense rich foods to reduce deficiencies and boost your mood. Specifically, focus on B-vitamin[23] and whole probiotic[24] foods, such as green vegetables, legumes, eggs, dairy-free yogurt, and sauerkraut. Avoid processed foods as much as possible. 
  • Sleep hygiene — going to bed and waking up simultaneously, creating a comfortable sleeping environment, and prioritizing quiet time before bed. 
  • Exercise — getting at least 150 minutes of movement a week. Try new fitness or dance classes, or consider a nightly walk in the park for some quiet time. 
  • Nature — about 10 minutes a day[25] in green space can lower cortisol levels — the stress hormone.

Our bodies evolved to move often, run on whole foods, sleep at night, and live in nature. The farther you live from a natural lifestyle, the more difficulties you’ll have with your physical and mental health.    

Social Support

does birth control make you moody

We’re wired to want to feel a part of a community for safety. So the more isolated we become, or the fewer close relationships we have, the more likely we feel depressed and anxious.[26] Prioritize spending time with loved ones or putting yourself out there to meet new people. Create a community of support around yourself by trying new hobbies or going to support groups[27] to meet people. 


does birth control make you moody

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT,[28] is one of the most effective ways to improve mental health problems. A trained professional uses this method to help you get to the root of the issue and learn new coping tools. With their help and support, you can reduce mood swings and work towards improving your life in several ways. 


The number one question on most women’s minds when considering hormonal contraception is; can birth control make you moody? With the countless studies done on the topic, most point to yes. 

It could be related to how birth control affects your brain’s response to stress, such as altering how neurotransmitters are released. As well it may create some nutritional deficiencies that lead to mood impairments. 

Some also wonder; does birth control make you emotional at first but then stabilize? As with any medication, the answer depends on the individual. Some women report an improvement in their energy levels on the pill, while others become moody or develop mood disorders like depression

Overall, if you’ve started taking the pill recently and have noticed mood changes, there may be a connection. For others, mood swings could be due to an underlying medical condition or stress. Either way, contacting your doctor for a full check-up while focusing on self-care and healthy lifestyle habits offers your best chance of feeling better. 

+ 28 sources

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  1. Sanders, S.A., Graham, C.A., Bass, J.L. and Bancroft, J. (2001). A prospective study of the effects of oral contraceptives on sexuality and well-being and their relationship to discontinuation. Contraception, [online] 64(1), pp.51–58. doi:
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  3. Gingnell, M., Engman, J., Frick, A., Moby, L., Wikström, J., Fredrikson, M. and Sundström-Poromaa, I. (2013). Oral contraceptive use changes brain activity and mood in women with previous negative affect on the pill—A double-blinded, placebo-controlled randomized trial of a levonorgestrel-containing combined oral contraceptive. Psychoneuroendocrinology, [online] 38(7), pp.1133–1144. doi:
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Jennifer Olejarz

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Jennifer Olejarz is a Certified Nutritionist and Health Counselor specializing in binge and emotional eating, stress management, and mental health. She has almost a decade's worth of experience in the health and wellness field writing health articles, guides, and books, along with creating health and nutrition courses. She works one-to-one with private clients to build healthier lifestyle habits and end the lifelong battle of food guilt and diet frustrations. She has degrees in both Psychology and Nutrition from Western University, Canada.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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