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Q: “Can Hormonal Birth Control Cause Depression?”

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Q: “I heard that women with ADHD who take hormonal birth control are at greater risk for depression. Is this true? I’m exploring birth control options and want to make sure I understand the risks and possible side effects of hormonal birth control.”Yes, our research group found that women with ADHD were five times more likely to develop depression following use of combined hormonal oral contraceptives (i.e., pills that contain both estrogen and progesterone) than were women without ADHD who were not on these pills.1 We came to these findings after comparing Swedish national register data of roughly 30,000 girls and young women with ADHD to more than 760,000 neurotypical peers in a control group.More highlights from this study:[Get This Free Download: Hormones & ADHD in Women]What could explain the increased risk for depression among women with ADHD who take birth control?

The way we see it, it’s probably not the hormones in oral contraceptives, per se, that place women with ADHD at greater risk.

After all, there was no difference between combined pills (with estrogen and progesterone) and progestogen-only pills in this group.What we think may be happening is this: When taking oral birth control, women with ADHD, due to their ADHD, might be extra susceptible to forget to take their birth control pills or may take them irregularly, causing hormonal fluctuations that may destabilize mood.

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