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Ohio State Study Examines Link Between Hormonal Contraception and Depression

For many women starting birth control, depression is a common concern – particularly when they’re using specific progestin-only methods or if they have suffered from depression in the past.

To address these concerns, researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center looked for a potential association between hormonal contraception and depression.

Brett Worly, MD, obstetrician and gynecologist, led a systematic review of thousands of studies on the mental health effects of contraceptives. During the review, Dr. Worly and his research team looked at data regarding various contraception methods, including pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), implants and injections. They also examined the effects of birth control on postpartum women, adolescents and women with a history of depression. Their conclusion: The preponderance of evidence does not support a link between progestin-only hormonal birth control and depression.

“The biggest misconception is that birth control leads to depression. We live in a media-centered age where if one or a few people have severe side effects, the concern is amplified unnecessarily,” explains Dr. Worly. “Based on our findings, progestin-only hormonal contraceptives do not cause depression in most patients.”

Dr. Worly points out that adolescents and expectant women sometimes have a higher risk of depression due to other factors, not necessarily due to their medication.

”It’s important that those patients have a good relationship with their healthcare provider so they can get the appropriate screening – regardless of the medications they’re on,” recommends Dr. Worly.

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