COMBINATION OF FACTORS: Dr Ali Kubba believes depression is a complex illness that is caused by a mixture of life events, cultural and social reasons
COMBINATION OF FACTORS: Dr Ali Kubba believes depression is a complex illness that is caused by a mixture of life events, cultural and social reasons

The pill may be linked to depression in women

A recent study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, has revealed that women who take the contraceptive pill are more likely to be treated for depression.

In Denmark, a research project has also examined the scale of the problem, involving the medical records of more than a million women and teenage girls.

Those on the combined pill were 23 per cent more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant by their doctor, most commonly in the first six months after starting on the pill.

Women on the progestin-only pills, a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone, were 34 per cent more likely to take antidepressants or get a first diagnosis of depression than those not on hormonal contraception.

Dr Ali Kubba, a fellow of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London told the Asian Express: “Depression is twice as common in women as in men.

“The causation is a combination of life event, cultural and social reasons including relationship problems, family stresses, economic and gender dynamics.”

He continued: “Women, especially young women, may be distressed by body image with such treatable or preventable conditions such as acne and obesity.”

He went on to say that sexual difficulties tend to have a ‘two-way relationship’ with physical and social factors.

“South East Asian women in the UK have similar or lower rates of depression than the general female population.

“This difference is explained by some experts as due to Asian women expressing depression or anxiety in a physical way such as experiencing headache or weakness.

“The scientific term for these phenomena is somatisation. Hormonal fluctuations in a woman’s menstrual cycle may increase the severity of mood changes, something that women notice in the week or so before their periods.”

When told about the Danish research, Dr Kubba said there was ‘no evidence’ however, that the pill actually causes depression.

He said: “Indeed, other large older studies do not show a link.  Could this be a situation arising from the pressures in modern societies? Possibly.”

Dr Kubba said that women use the pill for therapeutic reasons such as reducing heavy periods or period pains, which itself could impact on the mental state of a woman.

“Facial acne, so common in young women in Asia responds well to the pill,” he added.

“We know that women suffering from acne have an altered body image, suffer depression and six per cent have suicidal thoughts.

“Of all regions of the world, Asia has the lowest use of the pill with only 10 per cent of contraceptive use being hormonal versus 35 per cent in Europe.”

Dr Kubba said that women taking the pill anywhere in the world make the choice to suit their life style and health needs.

“This recent study on depression and the pill should be considered against the many benefits of the pill to the individual woman.”