Is the Oral Contraceptive Pill Associated with Depression?- A Synopsis of The Impact of OC Pills on Mood

Posted on:August 29, 2019
Last Updated: October 2, 2020
Time to read: 9 minutes

Throughout the history of medicine, thousands of drugs have been developed, but only one has been influential enough to earn the title of simply, the pill. Introduced in May 1950, the oral contraceptive pill is a medical innovation that has dramatically transformed generations. Women have gained incredible freedom and reproductive autonomy. The birth control pill separated sexual practice from conception, forcing re-assessment and reevaluation of social, political, and religious viewpoints.

The first real large-scale trial of the pill was conducted in 1956 in Rio Piédras, a Puerto Rican housing project. The 200-plus women involved in the trial received little information about the safety of the product they were given, as there was none to give, and no one thought that it might be necessary to provide such information. That was the standard of the day. Women who stepped forward to describe side effects of nausea, dizziness, headaches, and blood clots were discounted as “unreliable historians.”Despite the substantial positive effect of the pill, its history is marked by a lack of consent, a lack of full disclosure, a lack of true informed choice, and a lack of clinically relevant research regarding risk. These are the pill’s cautionary tales. [Liao P & Dollin J, 2012]

Hormonal contraception is available in oral pills and formulations stored within a device such as a transdermal patch, vaginal ring or a subcutaneous implant. As for contraceptives, they all provide an effective and safe method for the prevention of pregnancy. Regardless of formulation, expected failure rates are <2%. However, typical failure rates are between 3-5% due to accidental non-compliance. [Frye C, 2006]