A new study confirms what many women have been suspecting and struggling with for years – that taking birth control pills could lead to depression.
The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Copenhagen, reported that women who took combined oral contraceptives were 23 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression. Meanwhile, those who took progestin-only pills were 34 percent at higher risk of falling into depression.
Risk of depression were also much higher in teens (80 percent) when taking the combined pill and the risk doubled when taking the mini-pill (progestin-only).
In addition, women who sought other hormone-based contraceptives such as the ring, patch or IUS/ coil were found to have a much higher depression rate (40 percent) than those who used oral contraceptives.
One million Danish women between the ages 15 and 34 were involved in the study – all of whom were tracked for a total of 13 years, from the year 2000 to 2013. The study excluded women who were already diagnosed with depression or had used anti-depressants before 2000. According to The Guardian, it is the largest study of its kind to be conducted.
Overall, women who were on the pill and other forms of hormonal contraception had a 40 percent increased risk of depression after 6 months of continued use, the study concluded.
However, lead author, Dr. Oejvind Lidegaard said that most women will not likely be affected by the effects that birth control pills and other contraceptives might cause, although the results of the study are certainly not something to be ignored.
“Even though the risk of depression increases substantially with these drugs — a 40 percent increase is not trivial — most women who use them will not get depressed,” Dr. Lidegaard told The New York Times.
Lidegard added: “Still, it is important that we tell women that there is this possibility. And there are effective non-hormonal methods of birth control.”
Aside from depression, side effects of contraceptives can include acne breakouts, bleeding or spotting, weight gain and anxiety.