So it’s been brought to our attention in the last day or so that the contraceptive pill is linked with Depression.
The University of Copenhagen has recently published a study investigating the effects of hormonal contraception on women and it’s relationship with depression and the prescription of anti-depressent medications. With over a million Danish women participating this is one of the largest of it’s kind and is hopefully getting enough media attention to at least influence on the future of healthcare and prescriptions somewhat.
I find myself asking, how is this only now coming to light? Surely people have registered that there might be some kind of link here before? But from reading various articles around the subject it seems that many shrug the argument off and put it down to puberty. But what of after your teenage years? As someone who has studied mental health for the majority of her adult life, worked within the field and been privvy to the odd (ok more than odd) depressive episode I can tell you this is not just a teenage thing. Yes if you’ve got a family link with the mood disorder, and/or have experienced it yourself you are more likely to have a follow up episode but what of the women in their 20s or 30s who are new to hormonal contraception and start to see the black dog in their shadows?
Can us women please finally get some recognition that we are not going crazy, we are not pms-ing but actually, the thing that is giving us our sexual freedom is also capping our wellbeing. I was horrified to see some of the rates reported in the study. Women using the combined pill were found to be 23% more likely to be on a prescription for anti-depressants, whilst those on progestin (artificial progesterone) only pills were 34% more likely. Even more concerning was that this figure continued to rise with a) younger age groups and b) more concentrated methods. The IUD was found to be 3x more likely to be linked with depression.
In a world where we cannot determine cause or effect, these results should not be discounted and we need to seriously think about what can be done to help our women. Moreover, with the development of the male pill, forecasted predictions and hypotheses of the effects this will have should be listened to with caution before we wait 30 years for a similar study.
This is a particularly nice piece about the findings, so if you’re interested i’d give it a read