Hormonal Contraceptives Cause Depression? Birth Control Pills Have Disturbing Emotional And Psychological Effects On Teens, Claims Study

“The pill” is causing some women to suffer from depression, claims a new study that links hormonal contraceptives to one of the most common forms of psychological disorders.

A large number of women taking birth control pills are risking onset of depression. Moreover, at-risk teens could be even more susceptible to disturbing emotional and psychological side-effects of hormonal contraceptives. Essentially, women who are on the pill are more likely to be treated for depression, claims a study from the University of Copenhagen published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study confirming a link between hormonal contraceptives and depression is the largest of its kind because it involved a million Danish women between the ages of 15 and 34. These women were regularly tracked for a period of 13 years.

According to the study, women taking the combined oral contraceptive, one of the most common types of birth control pills, were 23 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression, reported the Guardian. Moreover, those who relied on progestin-only pills, commonly referred to as the “mini-pill,” were 34 percent more susceptible to the psychological disorder.

Worryingly, teens, who are the largest consumers of the birth control pills, are at the greatest risk of depression. The study found the risk of suffering from depression shot up by 80 percent among teenaged females relying on the pill to avoid pregnancy, and the risk doubled with the progestin-only pill.

Are alternatives to the hormonal contraceptives safe? Women seeking an alternative to the pill are often recommended the hormonal IUS/coil, the patch, and the ring. While these are effective in preventing pregnancies, they are no better when it comes to depression, claims the study. In fact, the study found the risk of depression was higher when women were using these alternatives to either kind of oral contraceptives. Moreover, teenagers with pre-existing depression could find their symptoms worsening with the use of these contraceptives, reported Science Direct.

The study also discovered that LARCs (long-acting reversible contraceptives), which are often recommended by the NHS and family planning organizations, aren’t much better than birth control pills. LARCS have a single advantage over the pill. Users don’t have to remember to take a pill every day. However, the common conception that they have far less severe side-effects as compared to the pill is unfounded and the recommendations are misguided.

The fact that women are twice as likely to suffer from depression due to “the fluctuation of progesterone and estrogen levels” merely exacerbates the situation. Hence, general practitioners usually avoid prescribing the pill to women who already suffer depression. It is now apparent why many women discontinue using the pill within the first year itself.

Despite the apparent mental health risk posed by hormonal contraceptives, laws today allow women to procure and use birth control pills without a prescription. Moreover, legislatures in some states have mandated the availability of such contraceptives to women.

Are there any safe alternatives to the pill that do not increase of depression? Besides condoms (male and female version), there are effective alternatives to hormonal contraceptives. Methods like the copper coil, diaphragm, as well as a Vasalgel, a contraceptive injection for men, do offer prevention of unwanted pregnancy.

In 2011, Ojvind Lidegaard, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology who is also one of the authors of the recently published study, discovered that the ring, the patch, and drospirenone-containing pills could increase the risk of blood clots forming.

Depression and anxiety can impact with varying intensities, and it is difficult to confidently blame the hormonal contraceptives for the onset of the psychological ailments. Moreover, not every woman who takes the pill could experience such side effects. However, the study does indicate there could be a strong connection between birth control pills’ increasing use and the rising cases of depression among teenage females.

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