According to a new study published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal, taking birth control could be linked to an increased risk of depression.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 30% of birth control users in the US are shown to quit the pill due to the negative side effects, which includes mood swings and depression, something that science has just proven to be a real concern.
Approximately 62% of women in the US aged 15 to 44 use some form of birth control, with 16% on the pill, 15% undergoing sterilization, and 7.2% using reversible contraception such as an IUD or implant.
Details of the study
The study tracked the health of more than 1 million Danish women aged 15 to 34 for 14 years and used data from the National Prescription Register and the Psychiatric Central Research Register in Denmark. It was found that the average age that women begin to use birth control is 24.
The objective was to find out whether birth control had a direct link to an increase in depression, which meant that women that were diagnosed with depression at any time before the start of the data collection or before the age of 15 were excluded from the study.
It was found that the women on birth control showed a 40% increase in the risk of depression when compared to those who did not take any birth control, which was also was also proven by the increase in antidepressant prescriptions.
According to the study, women on combined oral birth control pills had a 1.2 times higher rate in the risk for depression and those who used progestin-only pills had a 1.3 times higher rate. Transdermal patch users and those with vaginal rings or implants had a 1.5 to 2 times higher rate.
What causes the link?
Dr. O. Lidegard, a professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and the leader of the study, said: “We have known for decades that women’s sex hormones estrogen and progesterone have an influence on many women’s mood. Therefore, it is not very surprising that also external artificial hormones acting in the same way and on the same centers as the natural hormones might also influence women’s mood or even be responsible for depression development.
The difference in the rate of risk between non-oral and oral forms of birth control was noted by researchers as being due to the difference in dosage, rather than how the contraceptives are being administered.
It was concluded that more research needs to be done to confirm whether birth control alone can cause depression, and if so, the link needs to be better understood.
Researchers said that adolescents seemed to be more vulnerable to the risk than women aged 20 to 34 years old.
Causation of depression has been a challenge to prove and directly link to birth control, as impressive as the study has been.
Dr. Kathryn Holloway, an ob-gyn practitioner at the Institute for Women’s Health in San Antonio, Texas, says: “Although this study suggests an increased risk of depression with combined hormonal contraception, the increase does not seem so great as to significantly change how I counsel patients. Depression is not something to be taken lightly and should not be a missed diagnosis. It is important for physicians to monitor and evaluate for any possible side effects, even if rare, with any prescribed medication.”
Hormonal birth control has also been linked to many health benefits, including regulating menstrual cycles, treating pelvic pain from endometriosis, controlling fibroids, and reducing the risk of reproductive organ cancers.