What You and Your Teen Need to Know About The Pill’s “Lifetime Risk of Depression”
“The pill”—which, unfortunately, needs no elaboration— has again made headlines for adverse effects, namely as a catalyst for “an increased lifetime risk of depression among teens.” 1
Just this past June, a study of more than half a million women found that those who started on oral contraceptives as teens had a 130% higher rate of depression over their lifetimes. While adult depression diminished after the first two years of taking oral contraceptives, teenage users’ depression persisted indefinitely even after they stopped taking the pill.
This study expounds on previous research linking oral contraceptives to depression,2 including a 2019 study that showed that 16-year-old girls who took the pill reported more crying, eating disorders, and sleep disturbances than girls of the same age who didn’t use oral contraceptives.3
Is this a surprise to anyone? You don’t need a Ph.D. to correlate a drug that shuts down a woman’s natural production of hormones with mood disorders and depression. However, what the science ignores and cannot explain are the spiritual ramifications to the teenager who is taking the pill to prevent pregnancy.
I can because I’ve lived it. While I may have not experienced the “side effects” of the pill, I’ve been through the depression that comes through sexual relationships as a teen before marriage. I can honestly say that it was the darkest period of my life.
First, I take issue with how the word “depression” is tossed around as a purely physiological disorder completely detached from the soul and spirit. Notably, there is no brain scan or blood test that can diagnose depression.
According to the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the criteria for depression includes feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, failure, self-blame, death, and suicide.4
What other medical condition is defined by a human being’s assessment of self-worth or will to live? None! The Bible aptly identifies depression as “a spirit of despair.”5 As a teen, my despair ran so deep that there were times I considered suicide.
Second, I reject the culture’s normalization of teenage girls’ use of the pill as birth control. God’s Word is clear that marriage is a holy union where two people become “one flesh.”6 God tells us to “flee from sexual immorality” as it is sin against one’s own body.7 His admonishments are not to withhold or punish us but to protect us!
The relationships I found myself in as a teen led to heartbreak and worse. I can only imagine how the depression I experienced would have been multiplied by the pill. According to the latest research, I may have dealt with it indefinitely. While scientists are still trying to connect the links between birth control use by children and the feeling of sadness, I know it is a spiritual matter! As a teen, I was looking for love, identity, and intimacy that I could only receive through Jesus Christ.
If you have a teenager or are one yourself, please do not ignore the adverse effects of the pill itself. While the pill is prescribed to treat acne and PMS, the adverse effects can far outweigh any benefit. It has been linked to blood clot injuries, breast cancer, autoimmune disorders, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and now lifetime depression but nonetheless, has been given a medical pass for over 50 years.8
Equally if not more important, teens must guard their hearts and souls from opening a door to a spirit of depression or despair through premarital sexual relationships. If you’re a parent, be open with your daughters (and sons) about what the Bible teaches about sexual morality. Pray for your children to seek intimacy with Jesus and show them how to do it!
To delve into the agenda of the pharmaceutical industry, including the collaboration between medicine and political groups in developing and marketing the pill, check out Drenda’s book Fight Like Heaven! A Cultural Guide to Living on Guard.
If you are battling negative emotions such as depression, Drenda’s book Better Than You Feel: Making Your Emotions Work For You can help you take authority over these feelings and find freedom, purpose, and your identity in Him.
Also, be sure to SUBSCRIBE to Drenda’s YouTube channel, Drenda on Guard, where you will hear the uncensored truth and a Kingdom perspective on news and current events that affect you.
1. Johansson, T., Vinther Larsen, S., Bui, M., Ek, WE., Karlsson, T., and Johansson, Å., “Population-based Cohort Study of Oral Contraceptive Use and Risk of Depression,” Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, June 12, 2023; 32:e39. doi: 10.1017/S2045796023000525.
2. Skovlund, CW, Morch, LS, Kessing, LV, and Lidegaard, Ø, “Association of Hormonal Contraception with Depression,” November 1, 2016, JAMA Psychiatry, 2016 November 1; 73(11):1154–1162, doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.2387.
3. de Wit, AE, Booij, SH, Giltay, EJ, Joffe, H, Schoevers, RA, and Oldehinkel, AJ, “Association of Use of Oral Contraceptives with Depressive Symptoms Among Adolescents and Young Women,” JAMA Psychiatry, January 1, 2020; 77(1):52–59. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.2838.
4. “Signs and Symptoms of Depression,” https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/basics/depression/signs-depression#what-are-the-major-signs-of-depression.
5. Isaiah 61:2-3 (NIV)
6. Matthew 19:5 (ESV)
7. 1 Corinthians 6:18 (ESV)
8. Gaskins, Mike, In the Name of the Pill, 2019.