Study Finds No Link Between Birth Control & Depression — Here's What You Need To Know

by Casey Suglia

Many women have been faced with the obstacle of finding the best birth control method for them. From oral contraception to an implant to condoms, there are advantages, disadvantages, and health factors to consider for each method. But the "advantages" to using a certain type of hormonal birth control are looking a lot better now that a new study found no link between birth control and depression, curbing fears that contraception could put women's mental health in jeopardy.

As the new research published in the journal, Contraception, found, taking progestin-only birth control will not give you depression. The study was conducted by researchers at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University and reviewed 26 separate studies from over 30 years about the risk of "depression from progestin-only contraception," which included birth control pills, shots, and IUDs, according to People. After observing these studies, researchers found that there was no connection to depression and taking birth control.

These findings might come as a surprise, since a 2016 study published in JAMA Psychology, according to People, found that women who took hormonal birth control had an increased risk for depression compared to those who were not using contraception. What this study failed to recognize though, according to NPR, was that these links between depression and contraception use were correlations or coincidences — "two things occurring at the same time that may or may not be linked," NPR noted — and not a direct cause.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Brett Worly, an OB/GYN at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center told CNN:

A lot of my patients want to know if their birth control will lead to depression. This one concern keeps them from choosing a method. Based on our findings, it shouldn't be a concern for most women and they should be comfortable knowing they're making a safe choice.

This should come as a relief for those using hormonal birth control but are still confused about what they're putting into their bodies. In spite of the 99 percent of women who have tried "any method of contraception," only 79 percent of women have tried the pill and only 15 percent of women have tried an IUD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In spite of the studies previously linking the depression and birth control, Worly stands by the findings that progestin-only birth control, like the mini-pill, or an IUD like Mirena, definitely does not cause depression. "We didn't look at mood changes and founding down because those are difficult to measure," Worly told CNN. "We looked specifically at depression. We found hormonal contraception to be a safe, effective way to prevent pregnancy that will not cause depression in most women."

Still, Worly told People that there is still room for "more research" and for this conversation to continue, especially since the study only looked at depression diagnoses, not depressive symptoms or mood changes.

It is also important to note that this study focused on one type of hormonal birth control — progestin-only birth control. The pill, for example, is made up of two kinds of hormones — estrogen and progesterone, according to the National Center for Research. Progestin-only birth control takes many forms — like the popular IUD, Mirena, for example. "The shot" or Depo-Provera are also progestin only. The mini-pill is most popular under the brand names Camila, Errin, or Jolivette, according to Bedsider.

Of course, women and their doctors know what is best for their bodies and there is no arguing with that. If you're concerned about the side effects of certain birth control methods, then consult your doctor about making the best decision for you and your body. There are a few side effects to taking contraception, according to the Mayo Clinic women can experience changes in their menstrual cycles, headaches, and an increase in their blood pressure. But one thing that women won't have to worry about when it comes to taking progestin-only contraceptives, as these newest findings suggest, is suffering from depression.

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