Hormonal contraception and depression: outcomes and implications of new study. A statement by Family Planning Australia Alliance
A study recently published in JAMA Psychiatry linking hormonal contraception with depression has provoked significant media interest and may raise concerns among women using, or thinking of using, hormonal contraceptives. While an association has been found between hormonal contraception and the first use of an anti-depressant medication and a diagnosis of depression in this large national Danish registry study, it is important to understand that this type of observational study cannot prove that this association is causal. Other studies have found an association with positive mood effects or no change.
It is also important to put the risks into context which in this case are small:
If we look at the absolute risks for 1st use of an anti-depressant, non-users of hormonal contraception had an incidence rate of 1.7 per 100 woman years which increased to 2.2 per 100 woman years in users. This equates to an additional one woman prescribed a 1st anti-depressant in every 200 users.
Women with a history of depression are potentially able to use all methods of contraception including hormonal contraceptives and are advised that if they are happy with their current method of hormonal contraception there is no reason to stop it or to switch methods as a result of this study. It is recommended that women discuss any concerns they may have with their doctor and to seek advice if any troublesome side effects, including mood changes, should they occur. Check out our Resources to find out about the different types of contraception that are available in order to make an informed decision about the best choice for your individual circumstances.
Women wanting more information can contact the Sexual Health Helpline.
Reference: Wessel Skovlund C. et al. Association of hormonal contraception with depression. JAMA Psychiatry Published online September 28, 2016