Contraceptive pills and the birth control pills are now used very commonly in India and world-wide.
Though there are many benefits to using these forms of birth control, like lighter periods, acne control, less cramping, and of course protection from unwanted pregnancy, a new study has identified a pretty major risk factor for women, which is depression.
We know that hormonal birth control, especially the Pill, carries some risks, but the relationship between depression and hormonal birth control is still not totally understood.
Scientists have thought for awhile that the hormone progesterone, which is contained in birth control in the form of progestin, plays some kind of role in causing depression. In fact, previous research suggested that there was a link between the two, but that was where the information stopped.
The goal of this new study was to determine exactly which types of birth control carry the highest risk and how big that risk actually is.
After a comprehensive evaluation of data from the Danish National Prescription Register of women who took hormonal birth control with no previous depression diagnosis or antidepressant use, the research team concluded that in their findings “use of all types of hormonal contraceptives was positively associated with a subsequent use of antidepressants and a diagnosis of depression.”
Ojvind Lidegaard, the study’s co-author explained, “there are only small differences in risk between the different pill types, but patches and the vaginal ring carry higher risks than the combined pill.” Researchers found that women ages 20 to 34 were at between 1.23 and 1.34 times higher risk for needing antidepressants for the first time after starting their birth control use. The numbers for adolescent women ages 15 to 19 were, troublingly, even higher.
Younger women were between 1.8 and 2.2 times more likely to need first-time antidepressant use, and those who used non-oral hormonal contraceptives were at three times the risk.
These findings about younger women are particularly concerning, since unwanted teen pregnancy rates have dropped largely after programs that promote long-acting hormonal birth control like IUDs and implants have been introduced.
These types of birth control are on the lower end of the risk spectrum according to this study, but the hormone-related depression risk to young women is certainly a compounding public health issue. The study has been published in JAMA Psychiatry.