Women are more likely than men to experience depression, and other related mental health conditions, such as anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are a range of reasons behind this sad reality. Family responsibilities, violence or abuse, infertility and miscarriage, pregnancy and birth, and menopause are some of the factors that can trigger or worsen depression in women. Research also suggests that taking contraceptive pills may have a negative impact on your mental health and increase the risk of developing depression.
A study by Uppsala University found use of contraceptive pills associated with increased risk of developing depression in women. Stronger impact of contraceptive pills was observed on teenagers.
Study findings showed that women who started using contraceptive pills as teenagers had a 130 per cent higher incidence of depressive symptoms, while the risk was increased by 92 per cent among the among adult users. The stronger influence of contraceptive pills on teenagers was attributed to the hormonal changes caused by puberty.
Therese Johansson, one of the researchers, stated women in this age group can be more receptive to hormonal changes as well as other life experiences.
Should you stop using contraceptive pills?
Use of contraceptive pills has many advantages for women. Not only does it help avoid unplanned pregnancies, but also prevent illnesses like ovarian cancer and uterine cancer. However, contraceptive pills can cause some unwanted side effects. The possible link between contraceptive pills and depression has long been discussed.
Johansson noted that women should be informed about the negative effects of the pills on their mood, so that they can take well-informed decisions about their contraceptive options. The expert also mentioned that most women tolerate external hormones well, without experiencing such side effects.
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In this study, the researchers had only investigated combined contraceptive pills. Hence, they couldn't draw conclusions about other contraceptive options, such as mini pills, contraceptive patches, hormonal spirals, vaginal rings or contraceptive rods.
Combined contraceptive pills contain progestogen (this prevents ovulation and thickens the cervical mucus to prevent sperms from entering the uterus) and oestrogen (this thins the uterine lining to hinder the implantation of a fertilised egg."