Science has underestimated birth control's effects on mental and emotional health. According to TIME, one of the reasons for this could be that "If women feel depressed and take themselves off of birth control, they’re less likely to be included in studies that could show a link."
The women that were sampled were split into two main groups: those who used hormonal contraceptives and those who didn't. The researchers conducting the study then followed the women for an average of about 6.4 years. Now that is dedication to your study.
After gathering the data, the scientist discovered that women who were using "combination birth control pills" (contain both estrogen and progestin) were 23 percent more likely to also be prescribed an antidepressant. Those women who were on a strictly progestin-only pill were 34 percent more likely to be on an antidepressant.
The study continued to find evidence that the risks run highest in teenage girls. When on combined birth control pills, they were 80 percent more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant. For those on progestin-only birth control pills, they were 120 percent more likely than those who didn't use any form of hormonal birth control.
While this study was definitely well-researched and had a lot of factors attributing to its accuracy, the scientists admitted there were some limitations. As TIME points out, not all women who are depressed are diagnosed or prescribed antidepressants.
According to lead researcher and author Øjvind Lidegaard, MD, further studies are needed in order to understand the side-effects that different forms of birth control have on women.
"Women who develop depression after starting on oral contraceptives should consider this use as a contributing factor. Doctors should include these aspects together with other risks and benefits with use of hormonal contraceptives, when they advise women to which type of contraception is the most suitable for that specific woman," he explained.
It is important for doctors to inform their patients of the mental and emotional health risks that using hormonal birth control poses. It's also important, as women, to listen to our bodies and to not be afraid to ask questions.