Did you hear about this study linking hormonal contraception to an increased risk of being diagnosed with depression?
Did you dismiss it? “Old news, we’ve known about that forever”, “It was an association, not a causal link. Nothing needs to change here.”
Or did you feel relieved, and maybe angry? At last some research to confirm what you or yours have been going through?
You could argue she overstates the case - describing an "80 per cent increase" in depression. The actual figures were that out of a hundred women, 0.8 extra women (let's call it one) were depressed.
But let's face it. Around 3 million women in the UK take the pill. Even if it is "only" one extra woman in a hundred that is lots of women.
So what should you do if you're worried about the pill?
1. Believe yourself. This is hard to do when you're low but there are 101 things that can affect your mood. It can be hard to tell, but don’t rule out the pill as either a cause or a treatment for anxiety and depression. The study found that the risk of being diagnosed with depression peaks at approximately two to three months after starting to use hormonal contraception. You could try waiting it out. Or not.
2. Know your options. Sometimes it feels like the pill, implant, injection or IUS are your only options. They're not. Here's some more:
- Condoms - popular for a reason.
- The diaphragm or the cap - not so popular, though they might be your thing.
- Caya - a streamlined mixture of the diaphragm and the cap which fits 80 per cent of women.
- Fertility awareness (natural family planning) - yup, that's me on that link
- IUD (copper coil) - very popular among female doctors
- Vasectomy – quicker, easier and more effective than female sterilisation
- Withdrawal – more effective than you might think - avoid on your most fertile days
3. Don’t suffer in silence. Get help if you are depressed or anxious, whether you are on the pill or not. Speak to your GP, or phone 111. If your GP dismisses your concerns about the pill get another GP. Do things that make you feel better. Connect with people, or nature, read a good book, watch a film, exercise, sleep, work. Find out what works for you.