- Significantly more depression
- Young women especially at risk
- Adolescents are mentally vulnerable
- Only pubertal or already depressed?
- Consider the risk of depression
Women are about twice as likely to suffer from depression as men. Does the pill have a disproportionate share of the gender imbalance?
Hormones are the conductors of the body: they transmit messages from the brain to the organs, control metabolic processes - and influence the psyche. This applies not only to known mood-makers such as serotonin and dopamine, but also to the sex hormones. Thus, many women notice that their mood lifts just before the fertile days, and rushes into the basement when menstruation is imminent.
In this respect, it is not surprising that even hormonal contraceptives intervene in the psyche. To what extent, as a large Danish study shows, it reveals that women who take the pill may be at significantly higher risk of developing depression.
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen had evaluated data from more than one million girls and women aged 15 to 34 from Danish health records.
Significantly more depression
Compared to women who do not use hormonal contraception, women who took a combination pill with progestogen and estrogen were 20 percent more likely to have depression. A pure progestogen pill increased the risk by 30 percent, the vaginal ring even by 60 percent. And women who use a hormone patch for contraception doubled the chances of developing depression.
The greatest risk of depression six months after the start of hormonal contraception - then the additional risk was an average of 40 percent. After four to seven years, it was only ten percent.
Young women especially at risk
Particularly worrisome: the risk for 15-19 year olds rose the most. With a combined preparation they developed depression up to 80 percent more frequently, and as much as 120 percent with a pure progestogen pill. "Women of this age are particularly sensitive to risk factors for depression," says study leader Charlotte Wessel Skovlund in an interview with The-Health-Site.
Adolescents are mentally vulnerable
During puberty, many mental disorders occur. One in ten adolescents develops abnormalities such as eating or anxiety disorders, disturbed social behavior or even depression. The latter occur twice as often in girls than in boys. The study could partly provide an explanation for this.
Reason for the mental instability in puberty are in addition to the sex hormones mainly rebuilding work in the brain, suspected experts. In addition, there are a variety of emotional challenges: Adolescents have to cope with the changes in their bodies, unbend themselves from their parents, develop an adult identity and find their place in the social fabric.
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Are you depressed?
"I feel very depressed lately!" - Such a saying comes quickly over the lips. But with a mental illness such sensitivities have little in common. When one speaks of a real depression and what signs there are, learn here.
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Mix of main and secondary symptoms
Depression is associated with many symptoms - usually only a few of them affect each patient. Psychiatrists distinguish between three main symptoms, at least two of which must be met for the diagnosis of depression. In addition, at least two more of the numerous side effects must occur to help diagnose depression. The three main symptoms of depression are:
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Main symptom 1: Depressed mood
Those affected feel depressed and hopeless to a sense of deep and hopeless despair.
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Main symptom 2: loss of interests and joy
Everything that used to be fun in the past is suddenly no longer of interest to the sick and they are no longer enjoying anything. For example, they lose interest in their hobbies, in their activities and they neglect their social life.
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Main symptom 3: listlessness
Those who suffer from depression can find it very difficult to get into action. Even little things and even getting up in the morning are infinitely difficult. Not to mention coping with everyday tasks or even the job. In addition to these three main symptoms, there are a number of side effects:
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Suicidal thoughts or attempts
Of the additional symptoms suicidal thoughts and attempts are probably the most significant for a depression: The suffering is so great, the hopelessness so deep that the sick no other way out seems possible than to end their lives.
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Decreased concentration and attention
Depression also affects cognitive abilities.In particular, sufferers find it difficult to stay with the thoughts of an activity or task and concentrate. Accordingly, it is difficult for them to memorize something. The consequences are performance losses.
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Decreased self-esteem and self-confidence
Those who have little self-confidence, more likely to suffer from depression. The loss of self-esteem is also significant when a person is in a depressive phase. He estimates his abilities to be low and does not dare to trust himself anymore.
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Guilt and feeling of worthlessness
People with depression tend to quickly make mistakes and failures. Whenever something goes wrong, they personally believe they are responsible. They often feel useless and a burden on their fellow human beings. Everything that they have done in the past, has no meaning.
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Negative and pessimistic future prospects
Not only the present looks bleak for people with depression, they are also pessimistic about the future. She seems hopeless and hopeless.
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Loss of appetite and weight loss
People with depression also lose their appetite for eating and have to force themselves to do so. Often they lose a lot of weight. However, the depression can also have the opposite effect: those affected eat more than usual and gain weight.
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Also falling asleep and staying asleep are very common in depression. Many wake up early in the morning and can not fall asleep as they ponder their situation and circling their thoughts.
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Sometimes, depression also hides behind physical symptoms, especially pain that can affect the head, back, limbs and muscles. But also the libido disappears.
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Depression is curable
It is important for relatives and sufferers to understand the symptoms not as an expression of personality, but as part of a disease that can be cured. Even severe depression can be treated well by psychotherapeutic treatment and / or medication. Do not lose hope and seek help!
Only pubertal or already depressed?
The problem is that the symptoms of depression in adolescents are often misinterpreted as typical puberty behavior - such as listlessness, irritability, mood swings, social withdrawal or performance degradation. If such negative emotions solidify or get out of hand, they should be clarified by a specialist for safety's sake.
Consider the risk of depression
Basically, Skovlund would not advise women to take the pill: "Women, especially younger ones, should be aware that depression can be a potential side effect of hormonal contraceptives," says the researcher. This knowledge should be included in the considerations for the choice of a contraceptive method. Selling the pill when depression occurs could also be an effective measure against mental distress.
Source: Charlotte Wessel Skovlund et al.: Association of Hormonal Contraception With Depression, JAMA Psychiatry. Published online September 28, 2016. doi: 10.1001 / jamapsychiatry.2016.2387