This new study has us freaked out about hormonal birth control — so we asked a doctor
Most women have been through a hell of a lot in search for the right birth control. Contraception can potentially be a really stressful thing to figure out, even though it’s the very thing that’s supposed to make our lives easier and more enjoyable. A recent study on the side effects of hormonal birth control has only added to the noise, making us think twice about whether it’s a worthwhile way to prevent pregnancy.
JAMA Psychiatry recently published a study that surveyed 1 million Danish women who were aged between 15 and 34. Over the span of 13 years, researchers studied which birth control they used, as well as whether they had any diagnoses of depression or used any antidepressants. What they found wasn’t exactly promising.
Apparently, the women who used oral contraception were more likely to use antidepressants than those who didn’t.
They discovered that young women who used the ring or the IUD were three times more likely to use antidepressant than those who used other methods of birth control. Overall, the link between antidepressant use and injections, implants, IUDs, and rings was a worrisome one. People are starting to worry that birth control could potentially cause depression — or at least exacerbate it in some people who already struggle with a mental illness.
But how much of this are we supposed to take as gospel? How much are we supposed to let this influence our own birth control use? HelloGiggles spoke with Dr. Alyssa Dweck, a NY gynecologist, assistant clinical professor OBGYN, and author of V is for Vagina, who says this information shouldn’t make us throw in the towel of the pill just yet.
"Although this study suggests a possible association between the pill and depression ... causation is not proven and more research would be needed to suggest such.
Dr. Dweck tells HG that depression rates in Denmark are higher than in other countries, including the United States. “ It would be interesting to see if these results would be replicated if the same study was done in another country, where depression is not so prevalent,” she says. It’s definitely something worth talking about with your doctor, but remember that the potential connection between birth control and depression is only one of the many factors to keep in mind when you’re contraception shopping. Dr. Dweck reminds us that the pill will be different for everyone, so it’s best not to assume anything right off the bat.
"Keep in mind that in many instances and individuals, the pill is actually helpful for the emotional volatility that accompanies PMS, not to mention the anxiety of less effective or no contraception or depression that might come with an unplanned pregnancy."
So although this Denmark research may be eye opening and get us to ask some uncomfortable questions, it’s best to look at the whole picture before writing off hormonal birth control completely. Sit down with your doc, who should know enough about you and your body to help you make the right decision.