Several studies have established the association between the use of oral contraceptives and the increased risk of clinical depression in adolescents. However, it remains unclear as to how the use of oral contraceptives is related to concurrent depressive symptoms. This study aims to examine the association between oral contraceptive use and concurrent depressive symptoms in adolescents and young women.

This prospective cohort study included a total of 1,010 females aged 16-25 years who had used oral contraceptives at least once. The oral contraceptive use at 16,19, 22, and 25 years of age was recorded, and the primary outcome of the study was the occurrence of depressive symptoms confirmed by the DSM-IV–oriented affective problems scale.

At age 16 years, oral contraceptive users differed significantly from non-users, with nonusers having higher mean socioeconomic status and more often being virgins. Of all the participants, only adolescents reported higher depressive symptom scores when compared with non-users. Common signs in adolescent contraceptive users included more crying (OR 1.89), hypersomnia (1.68), and eating disorders (1.54). The depressive symptoms were not substantial in young women.

The research concluded that the use of oral contraceptives was associated with an increased risk of depressive symptoms in adolescents but not in young women.