Contraceptive pills

This week I came across two articles that I think are quite important. The first was by the NHS. The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey is published every seven years and is based on the results of a household survey in England. Key findings show:

  • One in five women (19 per cent) had reported symptoms of common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety disorders
  • One in four 16 to 24 year old women (26 per cent) surveyed has self-harmed, more than twice the rate in young men (10 per cent)

So what we are saying here is that for whatever reason, including the possibility that women are more likely to report mental health issues, there seems to be a disparity between mental health presentation in men and women.

The second article was about a study from Denmark which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry, it found that women who take the contraceptive pill or have hormonal implants, patches and intrauterine devices are more likely to be treated for depression, with adolescent girls appearing to be at the highest risk.

I’ve been wondering: Is there a link here?

We know that some medications can cause depressive or anxious symptoms in patients, many of them have depression listed as a side-effect on the leaflet you get with your medication. There are anecdotally many women who choose alternative forms of contraception due to mood changes and depression, but this is the first time a study has validated their experiences.

Whilst I would never advocate just stopping a medication without speaking to your doctor, if you feel you are possibly affected I would encourage you to speak to your GP, to have the discussion about depression and medication.

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