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Combined contraceptive pill linked to increase in antidepressants given to adolescent girls

Adolescent girls taking combined oral contraceptives are 80% more likely to receive antidepressants than peers not on the pill, findings show.
Contraceptive pill

Adolescent girls taking combined oral contraceptives are 80% more likely to receive antidepressants than peers not on the pill, latest findings show.

Researchers from Denmarks University of Copenhagen also found that women who take the combined pill are 23% more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant compared to non-users.

The study compared users of hormonal contraception with non-users, and found more users had been prescribed antidepressants or were diagnosed with depression.

Data diagnosis

More than 1 million women aged between 15 and 34, living in Denmark and with no prior history of depression, were included in the study. Data were collated from 1995-2013, and during a follow-up period from 2000-2013, 55.5% of women were current or recent users of hormonal contraception.

A total of 133,178 first prescriptions of antidepressants and 23,077 first diagnoses of depression were detected.

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Adolescent girls taking combined oral contraceptives are 80% more likely to receive antidepressants than peers not on the pill, latest findings show.

Contraceptive pill
Picture: iStock

Researchers from Denmark’s University of Copenhagen also found that women who take the combined pill are 23% more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant compared to non-users. 

The study compared users of hormonal contraception with non-users, and found more users had been prescribed antidepressants or were diagnosed with depression.

Data diagnosis

More than 1 million women aged between 15 and 34, living in Denmark and with no prior history of depression, were included in the study. Data were collated from 1995-2013, and during a follow-up period from 2000-2013, 55.5% of women were current or recent users of hormonal contraception.

A total of 133,178 first prescriptions of antidepressants and 23,077 first diagnoses of depression were detected. 

Adolescent girls on progestin-only pills were more than twice as likely to be prescribed an antidepressant.

The study concluded that hormonal contraception was associated with subsequent use of antidepressants and a first diagnosis of depression, especially in adolescents.

It noted that depression is twice as high in women than men in developed and developing countries despite the fact that before puberty girls are found to be equally or less depressed than boys.


Skovlund C, Mørch L, Kessing L et al (2016) Association of hormonal contraception with depression. JAMA Psychiatry. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.2387

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