Does birth control lead to depression?

HOLLAND, Mich. -- From pills to IUDs, there are a number of options when it comes to birth control. Now a recent study is linking hormonal birth control and use of antidepressants.

Dr. Barb Depree, a gynecologist with Holland Hospital, says she isn't surprised. She believes the link is caused by progesterone, a hormone in all contraceptive pills. The synthetic hormone is far from a woman's best friend, she added.

"I tell women you have hormone receptors everywhere in your body," Depree said, "and what that translates to me is hormones play a significant role in many areas in your body, including your brain."

Hormonal contraception options range from oral pills, injections and IUDs. However, there are non-hormonal birth controls you can try, according to Depree.

The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry. Researchers tracked one million women in Denmark ages 15 to 34 over 14 years, and a correlations was found between the use of hormonal birth control and the prescribing of antidepressants.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control has found that about 30 percent of women who have used birth control pills eventually quit because of side effects from weight gain and headache to mood changes.

Among all hormonal birth control users in the Danish study, there was a 40 percent increased risk of depression after six months, compared to women who did not use hormonal birth control at all.

Researchers note this association does not imply causation. More research is needed to better understand the possible link.

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1 Comment

  • Kevin Rahe

    You can’t ignore the role of behaviors and perceptions that often go along with birth control use as regards depression, too. For instance, sex outside of marriage or the sense that even married women can be seen as objects when men have the perception that they don’t have to take sex as seriously as they should.