More than 99% of women aged 15 and 44, who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one method of hormonal contraception, reports the Guttmacher Institute. However, despite research indicating that the use birth control has an influence on some women’s mood, the topic has seldom been addressed – until now.
According to a new study investigating “whether the use of hormonal contraception is positively associated with subsequent use of antidepressants and a diagnosis of depression at a psychiatric hospital,” there’s much to be discussed.
Per the research published in JAMA Psychiatry, scientists from the University of Copenhagen tracked one million Danish women between the ages of 15 and 34 from January 1, 2000, to December 2013 (13 years). What they discovered, was that birth control is connected to higher rates of depression in adolescents. In fact, young women between the ages of 15 and 19 who took oral contraceptives were 80% more likely to end up depressed.
Meanwhile, another study, which focused on a group of nearly 8,400 children in Hong Kong born in April and May of 1997, is challenging the research — suggesting that early puberty – not contraceptives — may be linked to depression. In some cases, it may even be triggered by an immune response, says the findings published in the journal Pediatrics.
As for the significance, doctors are unlikely to prescribe the pill to women who are prone to depression, as the use of contraceptives may worsen their symptoms. Women are already twice as likely to experience depression as men. The discoveries are complicated, and there are still many legitimate reasons to take the pill. Experts argue that women should be aware of both the benefits and the risks.