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Monday, February 28, 2005

Birth control pills linked to depression
"New research shows women taking the oral contraceptive pill are almost twice as likely to be depressed as those who do not.

The Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre studied 60 women, and found that those taking the pill containing both oestrogen and progesterone were almost twice as likely to be depressed as those who did not."
Funny how this makes it to ABC News in Australia but not in the U.S. or anywhere else for that matter. And the Australian AMA is warning folks, but not ours here in the U.S.

Thanks to Ron Van Wegen's blog, "Abortion in Australia", for the link.

A commenter wrote: "OTOH, one should consider whether the circumstances under which a woman is likely to be on the pill are likely to lead to depression. For instance, if a woman is on the pill because she doesn't want her casual sexual encounters to get her pregnant."

I caution against casually reversing that. It sounds all too much like someone trying to defend oral contraceptives. From the Alfred Centre's own site: "Women included in the study were over 18, not pregnant or lactating, had no clinical history of depression and were not on antidepressant medication in the previous 12 months."

Also from their site:
1) Oral contraceptives are used by 1 in 4 [presumably Australian] women between the ages of 18 and 49, being the primary method of choice of 40% of all contraceptive users (National Health Survey 1995).
2) In Australia, about 1 in 4 women will suffer from depression during their lifetime (WHO). Depression is one of the most common reasons given for discontinuation of oral contraceptive use (Goldzieher 1994).
We also had 3 separate commenters say they had--or would have had worsened--serious problems with depression caused by being on oral contraceptives, and our "other researcher" Christina remarked, "Last time I checked Williams' Obstetrics, about 500 women a year die in the US from complications of birth control pills. What does it say about us that we're willing to tolerate this? Imagine if 500 men a year died from Viagra!"

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