Scottish Daily Mail

Taking the Pill could raise risk of depression by 25%

- By Colin Fernandez Science Correspond­ent

WOMEN taking the contracept­ive pill face a higher risk of depression, a study has found.

Taking the most popular type of the Pill meant women were 23 per cent more likely to be later put on antidepres­sants than non-users.

Teenagers between 15 to 19 on the Pill were even more affected. They were 80 per cent more likely to be treated for depression than non-users. The risk also applied to those taking hormonal contracept­ives in other forms. Skin patches doubled the risk, the contracept­ive ring raised it by 60 per cent, and the coil by 40 per cent.

Scientists suspect a link with progestero­ne, which regulates the monthly menstrual cycle and has been linked to having a negative effect on mood. Experts say the findings raise ‘important questions’ but are urging women not to be alarmed.

For the study, researcher­s from the University of Copenhagen analysed data on more than a million girls and women aged 15 to 34 from national registries in Denmark. Over six years, participan­ts taking combined oral contracept­ives containing a mixture of the hormones progestero­ne and oestrogen were shown to be 23 per cent more likely than non-users to be treated with antidepres­sants for the first time.

Users of pills that contain only progestero­ne rather than a hormone mix had a 34 per cent increased risk. The authors, whose work is published in the journal Jama Psychiatry, said: ‘The high risk among women using the transderma­l patch and ring compared with the correspond­ing Pill is probably a question of dose rather than the route of administra­tion.’

Progestero­ne is thought to be the major factor in the link to depression, although oestrogen – the other key hormone involved in controllin­g the menstrual cycle – is also known to affect systems in the brain connected to mood.

Dr Channa Jayasena, from the Society for Endocrinol­ogy and Imperial College London, said: ‘Given the enormous size of this study, further work is needed to determine possible biological mechanisms which might underlie any possible link between the Pill

‘Discuss options with a doctor’

and depression. Until then, women should not be deterred from taking the Pill.’

Dr Ali Kubba, from the Royal College of Obstetrici­ans and Gynaecolog­ists, said: ‘Women should not be alarmed by this study as all women react differentl­y to different methods of contracept­ion.

‘We advise women to discuss their options with a doctor, where they will discuss the possible side effects and decisions around the most suitable method can be made’.

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