1

Holly Grigg-Spall – The pill is linked to depression – and doctors can no longer ignore it

A newly published study from the University of Copenhagen has confirmed a link between hormonal contraceptives and depression. The largest of its kind, with one million Danish women between the ages of 15 and 34 tracked for a total of 13 years, it’s the kind of study that women such as me, who have experienced the side-effects of birth control-induced depression first hand, have been waiting for.

Researchers found that women taking the combined oral contraceptive were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with depression and those using progestin-only pills (also known as “the mini-pill”) were 34% more likely. Teens were at the greatest risk of depression, with an 80% increase when taking the combined pill, and that risk is two-fold with the progestin-only pill. In addition, other hormone-based methods commonly offered to women seeking an alternative to the pill – such as the hormonal IUS/coil, the patch and the ring – were shown to increase depression at a rate much higher than either kind of oral contraceptives.

In recent years we’ve seen efforts from the NHS and family planning organisations to encourage teens to use these so-called LARCs (long-acting reversible contraceptives), primarily because they eliminate the need to remember to take a pill every day, but also due to the fact they’re commonly believed to have less severe potential side-effects than the pill. The new research suggests this practice is misguided. We already know that those with pre-existing depression may find the pill worsens their symptoms, and if teens were at greater risk of depression, then continuing this practice would be negligent.

Read more