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Women's Health

Can contraception make you depressed?

Thu 6th February, 2020

Reviewed by: Dr. Vamsee Thalluri

Women have been anecdotally talking about how The Pill affects their mood ever since it came out in the '60s.

However, studying the connection between hormonal contraception and women’s mood has only become a focus for mainstream scholars in the last five years. Because of this, there is a lot of conflicting data and research.

The general theme of findings does indicate that women taking hormonal contraception can experience mood-related symptoms and side-effects.

What the research tells us so far

One study documented negative effects on women’s mood and psychological well-being when they took hormonal contraception. The women tended to show more symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD), impulsive behaviour, and self image issues.

Another study said the data researchers found did support some mood-related side effects associated with hormonal contraceptive use. This is most convincingly shown in women with a history of depressive symptoms.

This study said that the use of hormonal contraception (especially among teens) was associated with the subsequent action of taking antidepressants or a first diagnosis of depression.

In Denmark, a study was carried out looking at women aged 15 to 34 between the years 2000 and 2013. The study found all forms of hormonal contraception were associated with an increased risk of developing depression. Particularly with the progesterone-only forms, including the IUD.

The risk was higher in teens ages 15 to 19 who had been taking non-oral forms, including the IUD and vaginal ring. But the IUD was found to have the highest association with depression in all age groups.

It’s important to note that while the risk of depression among those Danish women using hormonal birth control increased, the overall number of women affected was small.

Approximately 2.2 out of 100 women who used hormonal birth control developed depression, compared to 1.7 out of 100 who did not.

So, should we ditch hormonal contraception altogether?

The findings are still mixed and further research needs to be done, but it’s up to you to decide what feels right. Your doctor can help you work through your options.

Some studies have found that some women can experience beneficial mood-related effects as a result of hormonal contraception, specifically regarding premenstrual mood symptoms.

But if you don’t wish to go down the hormone route, there are non-hormonal contraceptive options available too.