Following Prof. Jenny Higgins’ research on the “pleasure deficit” and birth control use, A PHS 795 student points us to a CNN report on a JAMA Psychiatry study linking hormonal birth control to an increased risk in depression. They write:
The recent release of a research article linking depression to various forms of birth control for females ironically comes just as we finished discussing the pleasure deficit with Dr. Jenny Higgins. Thankfully this particular CNN article recognizes that correlation is not causation, however, there still seems to be some confusion among the lay public about the relationship between the two. Correlation versus causation aside, this shows yet again how contraceptive companies ignore the effects contraceptives can have on females, other than their effectiveness of preventing pregnancy. Women are more likely to stay on their birth control method if the side effects are acceptable to them, and according to this article and others I have read, many women tell anecdotal stories of going off the pill due to the emotional response. Women want more from their lives, their relationships, and their contraceptives than just preventing pregnancy. Moving forward, we need to find a more individualized approach to birth control prescriptions in order to determine which will have the most positive impact on the woman’s life. Women need to be more aware of their options for preventing pregnancy, and the public and physicians need to open up that conversation. There’s so much silence around this topic that so many women don’t know that if they aren’t happy with their current method, they can and should change it.
This was an observational study with limited ability to control for factors that affect both birth control use and depression, but the results should lead to further investigation.