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Politics, Feminism

I translated the excellent article written by Katrine Marçal, "Lite depression får väl kvinnor tåla”, published in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet the 23rd of October, 2016. Several English-speaking friends had expressed interest in reading the article, so I took it upon myself to translate it to English from Swedish.
The article, whose title translates to “Women will just have to put up with a bit of depression”, discusses how women's mental health is addressed (or rather, not) and the correlation between the use of the Pill and depression among young women based on a recent large-scale Danish study.
I, for one, can honestly say that I haven't met a single woman/girl who has not experienced depression or anxiety to some kind of advanced degree while taking hormonal birth control. This is an issue that seriously affects a large part of the population, and therefore ​​I think it is extremely important that this issue becomes more widely discussed.
(Please forgive me in advance for any Swenglish)

​​Link to article:


English translation of article in Swedish newspaper “Aftonbladet”, 23rd October 2016:

Original text by Katrine Marçal. Translated by Saskia Sandlund.

“Women will just have to put up with a bit of depression”

23rd October

Side effects of the Pill

“We need greater respect for the inward suffering which comes with mental illness”, said Niklas Ekdal to the magazine Vård och Hälsa (English translation: care and health). His new book, “How I died”, describes the way into the dark, a suicide attempt, and the way out. Another survivor described depression as “living in a body which fights for survival, with a soul that has decided to die”. Depression draws the curtains closed and says that there isn’t anything out there.
The room continuously becomes smaller.
And the company is unbearable.
Depression, however, is not an illness that we tend to take seriously.
For over fifty years, women have reported depression as a side effect of the Pill. You start on the first pill of the sheet, and once you’re a little way further in you no longer recognize yourself. Many stop taking it, others continue - into the dark or into a deep anxiety, which you begin to convince yourself is normal. This has been the experience of countless women of a pill which is presented as sexual liberation in a package, and a mandatory item in the handbag of any modern woman. Not until now, in October 2016, was there a large-scale study conducted on the link between the Pill and depression. It has taken 50 years for this to happen.
This says something about the seriousness in which we take womens’ illness.

Danish researchers have followed approximately one million Danish women between the ages of 15 to 34 during thirteen year’s time. Their study, which was published in Jama Psychiatry, shows that it is quite common for women who begin the use of hormonal contraceptives to within half a year also begin taking antidepressants.

The correlation was strongest among teenagers. There was an 80 percent higher risk for depression among girls 15 to 19 years old. By the age of 25 the risk had gone down to 20 percent higher (chance of starting antidepressants).
The so called “minipill” (progestin-only contraceptive) which is often prescribed to women as an alternative to the Pill was shown to have an even stronger correlation to antidepressants. The most depressed were women using the contraceptive patch or ring.
The researchers are unsure as to why.

One of the absolute most common reasons for women to discontinue use of the Pill is that they experience that it affects their mood. These women aren’t even included in the Danish study, as it only shows the women who have continued using the Pill or have experienced such severe depression that they were prescribed antidepressants.

The new Danish study doesn’t prove that the Pill causes depression, but it clearly illustrates that there is a strong correlation between the two. The critique thus far has mostly been comprised of other factors which could be the triggering factor: teenage girls could have had their hearts broken, according to an American researcher, who sees this as the reason for their sadness. But the question is whether an 80 percent increase in risk for depression for men would be discussed the same way.
It is common knowledge that Ernest Hemingway committed suicide because he was a misunderstood genius, and that Sylvia Plath did because she was dumped by her husband.
There is a difference between women and men.
Biologically, it is difficult to see the logic behind why women, who can only become pregnant six days per month, should put hormones in their bodies every day for decades.

In the Pill’s early days, researchers began looking into a Pill for men, however they abandoned the idea due to several reasons, in particular the serious side effects. Women were seen as more capable of handling the side effects, they didn’t have the same high standards on quality of life, and they were often thankful just to skip the constant fear of involuntary pregnancy.

Today, 100 million women in the world are on the Pill. In Sweden, it is often prescribed to teenage girls as if it were the magical candy of grown-ups. The Pill is the answer to everything from migraines to acne, yeast infections, menstrual pain, and irregular menstrual cycles. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Anyway, the answer to all vagina-related problems is just to totally shut down women’s ovulation. The question is just by which Pill it should be done. “Try a new type”, is the mantra.
To be on the Pill is more or less seen as mandatory for a woman who wants to be sexually active. Only then can she have sex like a man, that is to say wherever and however, without the risk of becoming pregnant. This is how sexual liberation has been defined. Moreover, it is what many men have learnt to expect from women. To start taking the Pill is a part of becoming a grown woman: sexually accessible for men without the men having to share any responsibility.
And it is in that context that you’ll just have to put up with a bit of depression.

-Katrine Marçal.
(Translated by Saskia Sandlund)


Swedish original article:

"Lite depression får väl kvinnor tåla”

23 oktober

Biverkningar av p-piller

Vi behöver större respekt för det inåtvända lidande som kommer med psykisk ohälsa, sa Niklas Ekdal till tidningen Vård och Hälsa. Hans nya bok ”Hur jag dog” beskriver vägen in i mörkret, ett självmordsförsök och vägen ut. Depression är att leva i en kropp som slåss för att överleva, med en själ som har bestämt sig för att dö uttryckte en annan överlevare saken. Depressionen drar för gardinerna och säger att det inte finns någonting därute. Rummet blir hela tiden mindre.

Och sällskapet är outhärdligt.

Depression är dock inte en sjukdom som vi brukar ta på allvar.

I över femtio år har kvinnor rapporterat depression som en biverkning av p-piller. Du börjar på pillerkartan och en bit in känner du inte längre igen dig själv. Många slutar, andra fortsätter. In i mörkret eller in i en dov ångest som du börjar inbilla dig är normal. Detta har varit otaliga kvinnors upplevelse av ett piller som har presenterats som sexuell frigörelse på karta och obligatoriskt innehåll i varje modern kvinnas handväska. Först nu, i oktober 2016, kom en stor studie om kopplingen mellan p-piller och depression. 50 år har det tagit.

Det säger något om på vilket allvar vi tar kvinnors ohälsa.

Danska forskare har följt drygt en miljon danska kvinnor 15–34 år under tretton års tid. Deras studie, som publicerades i Jama Psychiatry, visar att det är betydligt vanligare att kvinnor som börjar använda hormonella preventivmedel inom ett halvår också börjar använda antidepressiva läkemedel.

Starkast var sambandet hos tonåringar. Bland flickor på 15–19 år fanns en 80 procent högre risk för depression, vid 25 års ålder hade risken minskat till 20 procent högre.

Så kallade minipiller som ofta ges till kvinnor som ett alternativ till p-piller visade sig ha en ännu starkare koppling till antidepressiva läkemedel och mest deprimerade var de kvinnor som använde p-plåster eller p-ring.

Forskarna vet inte varför.

En av de absolut vanligaste orsakerna till att kvinnor slutar med p-piller är att de upplever att läkemedlet påverkar deras humör. Och alla dessa kvinnor finns inte ens med i den danska studien, den visar bara de kvinnor som dels fortsatt med p-piller, dels har haft en depression som gick så långt att en läkare skrev ut antidepressiva.

Den nya danska forskningen visar inte att p-piller orsakar depression, bara att det finns en stark koppling. Kritiken har så här långt handlat mest om att andra faktorer kan vara den utlösande faktorn: tonårstjejerna kan ha fått sina hjärtan krossade, menade en amerikansk forskare. Det är därför som de är ledsna. Men frågan är om man skulle diskutera en 80 procent ökad risk för depression hos män på samma sätt.

Vi vet alla att Ernest Hemingway begick självmord för att han var ett missförstått geni och Sylvia Plath för att hon blivit dumpad av sin man.

Det är skillnad på kvinnor och män.

Biologiskt är det svårt att se logiken bakom att kvinnor, som kan bli gravida bara sex dagar varje månad, ska stoppa i sig hormoner varje dag i decennier.

I p-pillrets begynnelse tittade forskarna på ett p-piller för män, men de förkastade tanken bland annat på grund av de allvarliga biverkningarna. Kvinnor ansågs kunna hantera biverkningar bättre, de hade inte samma höga krav på livskvalitet och var ofta tacksamma nog att slippa den ständiga rädslan för ofrivillig graviditet.

I dag äter 100 miljoner kvinnor p-piller i världen. I Sverige skrivs tabletterna ofta ut till tonårstjejer som vore det magiskt vuxengodis. P-piller är lösningen på allt från migrän till acne, svampinfektion, mensvärk och oregelbundna blödningar. I en del fall fungerar det, i andra inte.

Svaret på alla underlivsrelaterade problem är hur som helst att stänga ner kvinnans ägglossning helt. Frågan är bara genom vilket p-piller man ska göra det. Testa en ny sort, är mantrat.

Att ta p-piller uppfattas som mer eller mindre obligatoriskt för en kvinna som vill vara sexuellt aktiv. Först då kan hon ju ha sex som en man, det vill säga när som helst, hur som helst utan risken att bli gravid. Det är på detta sätt som sexuell frigörelse har definierats. Det är dessutom vad många män har lärt sig att förvänta sig av kvinnor. Att börja med p-piller är en del i att bli en vuxen kvinna: sexuellt tillgänglig för män utan att männen behöver dela ansvaret.

Och i det sammanhanget får man väl tåla lite depression.

-Katrine Marcal.

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God natt!



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Turtleneck: Country Road
Pants: Country Road
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Turtleneck: Country Road
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