Depression And The Pill: The Dirty Little Secret Is Out
By Kurtis Bright
How A Danish Study Is Finally Forcing Acknowledgement of a Long-Rumored Secret
Nobody likes to talk about the dirty little secret hiding behind the contraceptive pill, least of all the manufacturers. Not only that, the medical profession has long denied and ridiculed the notion, no matter how many women have reported it.
Even with 4 out of 5 sexually experienced women have used the pill, we nonetheless rarely hear about the depression that is a common side effect.
However a recent study out of the University of Copenhagen is at long last lending credibility what millions of women have already known: hormonal contraceptives often trigger or exacerbate symptoms of depression.
The Danish study, the largest to date on contraceptive pills and depression, uses data culled from over a million Danish participants aged between 15 and 34, tracking them for over 13 years.
Having employed such a long-term, definitive and broad sample of women using the pill, the study is likely to wipe away the smug denial the medical establishment has been hiding behind for decades.
What the researchers found was that women who took the combined oral contraceptive had a 23 percent higher chance to be diagnosed with depression. And those women who took progestin-only pills--the so-called mini-pill--were 34 percent more likely to suffer from depression.
And alarmingly, teen girls were even more likely to be suffer depression if they were on the pill: there was an 80 percent increase in the odds they would experience depression on the combined pill, and a two-fold risk on the progestin-only pill. This is especially disturbing given the well-documented risks teens have for suffering from depression under the best of circumstances.
And switching to different hormone-based contraception methods didn’t reduce the chances of depression either--quite the opposite in fact. Women and girls using the hormonal IUS/coil, the contraceptive patch or the Nuva ring demonstrated a higher chance of experiencing depression--a much higher rate in fact than for those on the pill.
Again, and as the researchers themselves note, this is especially troubling as it pertains to teens. Efforts to steer teens toward alternatives to the pill--so-called long-acting reversible contraceptives or LARCs--have met with some resistance.
Doctors also have recommended these alternatives to the pill because previously it was thought that they have less severe potential side effects. However, armed with this new evidence that people who already suffer depression often find that the pill makes their symptoms worse, and that other hormone-based alternatives are indeed worse, steering depression-prone teens to the alternatives is tantamount to malpractice.
The researchers also noted that given the fact that conscientious doctors already steer women with tendency toward depression away from the pill, the research probably badly underestimates the negative effect.
It is a blockbuster report, one that we can only hope will have repercussions in doctor’s offices around the world. If you know anyone who uses hormone-based contraception and suffers depression, please pass on this information to them. At the very least they should be aware that they are not alone.