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Hormonal Contraception and Depression

12 October 2016

Communique

A study recently published in JAMA Psychiatry linking hormonal contraception with depression1 has led to media interest and may raise concerns among women using, or thinking of using, hormonal contraceptives.

The study has reported an association between use of hormonal contraception and the first use of an anti-depressant medication, and a diagnosis of depression. The results of the study suggest that the absolute risk for first use of an anti-depressant has an incidence rate of 2.2 per 100 woman years in women using hormonal contraception, compared to that of 1.7 per 100 woman years in women who do not use hormonal contraception. This equates to an additional one woman prescribed a first anti-depressant in every 200 women using hormonal contraception.  Thus the absolute risk of needing antidepressant treatment is small.  Observational studies of this type do not necessarily prove a causal link.

Women with a history of depression are potentially able to use all methods of contraception including hormonal contraceptives. They should be advised that if they are satisfied with their current method of hormonal contraception, there is no reason to cease or to change methods based on the results of this study. It is recommended that women discuss any concerns they may have with their doctor and to seek advice if they experience any potential side-effects, including mood changes.

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References

1. Wessel Skovlund C, et al. Association of hormonal contraception with depression. JAMA Psychiatry Published online September 28, 2016.




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