Oral contraceptives and depression

Oral contraceptives and depression

Depression or depressive mood are possible known adverse drug reactions (ADR) that can occur after taking an oral contraceptive. Patients must be informed of the warnings and precautions according to the current medicinal product information when hormonal contraceptives are prescribed.

hormonal contraceptives, depression, estradiol, dienogest

Incident data


Case: 2016

Age: 37

Sex: female

Active substances: estradiol, dienogest

Indication: contraception

ADR: depressive mood, anxiety

Outcome: recovered

A woman was hospitalised with depressive mood and anxiety that occurred approximately six days after starting to take a combined oral contraceptive.

She was initially treated with lorazepam and after discharge from the hospital with an antidepressant and magnesium. After discontinuing the contraceptive, the patient's condition improved within just a few days.

Summary and recommendation

Depression and depressive mood are possible adverse reactions that can occur after taking a hormonal contraceptive. The course of depression can be serious and is a risk factor for suicidal behaviour.

Before taking a hormonal contraceptive, women must have possible symptoms of depression explained to them and be informed that such disorders can occur shortly after starting treatment (1). The risk of depression when taking oral contraceptives is increased in the first two years in particular (2).

If symptoms of depression or mood swings occur when taking a contraceptive, the doctor should be informed immediately.

Literature references

(1) Medicinal product information for Qlaira: Information for healthcare professionals (www.swissmedicinfo.ch)

(2) Johansson T, Vinther Larsen S, Bui M, Ek WE, Karlsson T, Johansson Å. Population based cohort study of oral contraceptive use and risk of depression. Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2023 Jun 12;32:e39. doi: 10.1017/S2045796023000525.

See also

Medicinal product information