A new study links birth control with depression in women. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association of Psychiatry. Researchers studied more than one million women and adolescent girls who were taking hormonal contraception, such as the pill, implants, IUDs and patches.
Findings: Women taking the combined oestrogen-progestogen pill were 23% more likely to be prescribed antidepressants. Women taking progestin-only pills were 34% more likely to be prescribed anti-depressants.
Adolescent girls had a higher risk of depression – 80% more likely to be taking anti-depressants on the combined pill and twice as likely on the progestin-only pill. The risk decreased as women got older but were still more likely to be on anti-depressants.
According to Dr. Ojvind Lidegaard, it was important to be aware of the side effects of the pill.
“We were following women who, from the beginning, were mentally healthy, we can see that, especially with young women, there is a significantly increased risk of developing depression after starting up on hormone contraception.”
Yet according to Dr. Ali Kubba, a fellow at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, told The Guardian that the study raised a lot of questions and more investigation is needed.
“There is existing clinical evidence that hormonal contraception can impact some women’s moods, however, from this study there is no way of linking causation, therefore further research is needed to examine depression as a potential adverse effect of hormonal contraceptive use,” he said.
“Women should not be alarmed by this study as all women react differently to different methods of contraception. There are a variety of contraception methods on offer including the pill, implants, injections, intrauterine devices, and vaginal rings and we therefore advise women to discuss their options with a doctor, where they will discuss the possible side-effects and decisions around the most suitable method can be made jointly.”
Bottom line: Especially if you have a family history of depression, think twice about hormones.