Oral contraceptive use and depression among adolescents

Ann Epidemiol. 2019 Jan:29:46-51. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2018.10.002. Epub 2018 Oct 13.


Purpose: Depression is a prevalent health problem affecting U.S. women. Oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) are commonly used for pregnancy prevention, and evidence is mixed regarding any increased risk for incident depression among users, particularly adolescents.

Methods: We examined the relationship between OCP use and depressive disorders among female adolescents using validated, structured interview assessments in a general population sample of adolescents in the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement. Respondents were 4765 female adolescents with no history of pregnancy who reported current OCP use, lifetime OCP use, and age of OCP initiation. Lifetime and current depressive disorders, including major depressive disorder and depressive episodes, were assessed by lay interviewers.

Results: In logistic regression models adjusted for a range of confounders, there was no relationship between ever using OCPs and lifetime depressive disorder (OR 1.10, 95% CI 0.88-1.37), nor current use of OCPs and current depressive disorder (OR 0.82, 95% CI 0.50-1.35). Using survival analysis for age-of-onset data, we found that OCP use is not associated with an increased risk of depressive disorders.

Conclusions: In sum, use of OCPs in a general population sample of adolescents did not increase the risk of depressive disorders.

Keywords: Adolescent; Contraception; Depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Contraception / psychology*
  • Contraceptives, Oral / administration & dosage
  • Contraceptives, Oral / adverse effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / chemically induced*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / chemically induced
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Women's Health


  • Contraceptives, Oral