Claim

Birth control pills increase the risk of depression in women.

Verdict

False

The science does not support the claim that oral contraceptive birth control pills increase the risk of depression in women.

Origin

Websites such as shape.com claim that oral contraceptive pills can ‘wreak havoc with women’s mood’.

A new study published earlier this year in the Journal of Psychoneuroendocrinology completely disproves this theory (1). Investigators studied 202 women who were enrolled in a double bling randomized clinical trial which is the gold standard design for clinical research studies. The 202 women who were enrolled in the trial were chosen to be as representative as possible of the general population so that the results could be translated into clinical practice and relevant to as many women as possible.

Women were randomized to either receive placebo or the combined oral contraceptive pill at a dose of 1.5 milligrams of estradiol and 2.5 milligrams of nomgestrolacetate acetate for a period of three months.

The results of the study showed that the proportion of women with clinically relevant mood worsening did not differ between the treatment and placebo group. Additionally, statistically significant improvements were noted in women with premenstrual depression. A small but statistically significant increase in anxiety and irritability was noted among the study participants.

In summary, this study does not support the claim that there is an increased risk of depression in women taking the oral contraceptive pill.

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