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Girls Who Take Contraceptives As Teenagers More Likely To Be Depressed In Adulthood

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The Link Between Oral Contraceptives and Depression

A recent study conducted over a four-year period revealed a significant association between teenage girls who start taking birth control pills and an increased risk of developing depression compared to those who have never used contraception.

The study found that women who began using oral contraceptives (OC) before the age of 20 had a 130 percent higher rate of depression compared to non-users. However, individuals who started using OC as adults had a lower risk, at 92 percent.

The study also indicated that the likelihood of developing depression related to birth control pills was highest within the first two years of usage, but the rate of depression diagnoses decreased as women continued to take the OC for longer periods.

The research team, led by experts from Uppsala University in Sweden, suggested that the hormonal changes experienced during puberty may already impact the emotional well-being of teenagers, and the addition of hormonal birth control could intensify these effects.

 

This study is part of a growing body of evidence revealing adverse effects associated with birth control pills, including blood clots, gallbladder disease, and mental health issues.

The research, conducted on a large scale and encompassing approximately 265,000 women in the UK Biobank, highlights the higher overall rate of depression among women who have ever used oral contraceptives compared to those who have never taken them. However, the risk of depression was less prominent after two years of continuous use.

Therese Johansson, the lead author of the study, emphasized that most women tolerate hormonal contraceptives well without experiencing negative mood effects, making combined contraceptive pills an excellent option for many.


However, certain women may have an increased risk of depression upon starting to use birth control pills. The study also found that even after discontinuing usage, teenage girls still had a high incidence of depression, while adult women showed a decline in depression rates after about two years of consistent OC use.

Hormonal birth control pills, containing estrogen and progestogen, are known to affect mood, with many women reporting mood disturbances while taking them. Progestogen prevents ovulation and thickens cervical mucus to hinder sperm entry into the uterus, while estrogen thins the uterine lining to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, resulting in a pregnancy prevention rate of around 99 percent.

A previous study conducted in 2016 by experts from the University of Copenhagen involving over a million Danish women revealed that those using hormonal contraceptives had a 0.9 to 1.9 times greater risk of being diagnosed with depression for the first time. Teenage girls had an even higher risk, ranging from 1.2 to 3.2 times, although researchers acknowledged that the higher risk in this age group could be attributed to their generally higher susceptibility to depression symptoms.

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