Ask Dr. Nandi: "The pill" may raise depression risk

Posted at 5:56 PM, Sep 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-30 17:57:10-04

Hormonal contraception methods like birth control pills are commonly used to prevent pregnancy. Their side effects are well documented and majority of them are not serious. 

However, a new Danish study confirms the link between hormonal methods and depression symptoms. Over one million females between the ages of 15 and 34 were followed for roughly six years. Those who used birth control pills were 23 percent to two times more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant medication compared to those who didn’t use this method.

Women who used birth control rings had a 60 percent increased risk for being prescribed antidepressants. And for those using birth control patches, the risk was doubled.

The study doesn’t prove the pill causes depression but it strengthens this connection. Women are roughly twice as likely than men to deal with depression. 

Estrogen and progesterone are female sex hormones and may increase the risk for depression after puberty.  For those who are concerned about depression and are looking for other contraction methods, here are my prescriptions:

Partha’s RX:

1. Consider non-hormonal contraception like an intrauterine devices or IUD
They work by releasing copper to prevent sperm from fertilizing the egg.

2. Over the Counter Male and Female Condoms work well
They also provide protection against sexually transmitted infections.

3. Another option is Natural Family Planning
Choose from the rhythm method, the cervical mucus method and the basal body temperature method.

4. Find a Doctor You Trust
And who will discuss the pros and cons of all birth control options to find the one that’s right for you.

The risks were much higher for teens. Those using hormonal patches, vaginal rings or IUDS with progestin were 3 times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants. 

Any female who starts having mood symptoms after starting hormonal birth control should discuss them with their doctor.