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Is There a Strong Link Between Birth Control and Depression

A study conducted in Denmark has shown that one of the side effects of birth control is that it greatly increases depression.  It was conducted over a period of 10+ years (2000-2013) and included progestin and combination types such as the pill, intrauterine devices [IUDs], the shot and the patch.  Women 15-19 years of age showed a 70% higher rate of depression as measured by when they started anti-depressants and their first diagnosis of depression at a psychiatric hospital.

The study about Birth Control and depression included over 1 million women using progestin-only birth control and also those using combination contraceptives that included two key hormones, which are used frequently by women in the U.S.Teens

Dr. Kristopher Kaliebe, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of South Florida, said he notices psychological changes in some of his female patients after they start taking birth control.  Dr. Kaliebe was not part of the Danish study.  The study did indicate mood deterioration, and changes in the brain related to emotions.

Physicians who prescribe these drugs often are not skilled in mental health issues both in terms of detection, and treatment. 

It was also observed that use of Intrauterine Devices (IUD’s) like Mirena, greatly increased the number of depression diagnoses (nearly tripling them) and use of antidepressants.  The study indicates risks for those who are deciding when to start birth control.  Speaking about younger women, Dr. Øjvind Lidegaard, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Copenhagen and co-author of the study, said “Women in that age group have already experienced dramatic hormone changes due to their adolescence.” He continued, “When such dramatic changes occur, women are more sensitive, not just to hormonal changes, but to other experiences in their lives.”

Dr. Lidegaard said, “Doctors should inform women considering birth control, of depression as a possible side effect of the drug.” The information allows women to make decisions about their contraceptive options that are based on their holistic health.

References:

Large Study Links Contraceptive Use to Depression, https://khn.org/news/large-danish-study-links-contraceptive-use-to-risk-of-depression

Association of Hormonal Contraception with Depression, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2552796

 

Side Effects of Birth Control, Birth Control and Depression, When to Start Birth Control