Some years ago I attended a meeting on depression and sat through some very interesting presentations and some which literally put me into “Lecture Lullaby Land”. After the last talk I asked one of the presenting psychiatrists if she could explain the explosion of depression in our young women. She hemmed and hawed, “Perhaps the gene for suppressing depression is becoming tired.” “(Tired gene syndrome???” I thought, “That’s a new one to me.”
Back to the speaker- “People have so much stress today.”
“Really?” My tongue so rudely asked. “More stress than a pack of wild wolves howling at your sod hut every night?”
She smiled and continued with her psycho-babble but, in reality she had no explanation.
Fast forward a couple of years: Those of you who read “Messengers in Denim” will remember reading that sexually active girls have an increased risk of depression.
It had long been held by the medical community that depressed girls used sex as a self-prescribed treatment for depression. Thinking that the pleasure of “making love” would lift them to full-time ecstasy. But, a study by Dr. Hallfors of depressed, sexually active girls showed just the opposite.
Dr. Hallfors concluded, “Engaging in sex and drug behavior places adolescents, and especially girls, at risk for future depression.” They showed further that the risk of depression increases with multiple sex partners. Since then some doctors call depression a sexually transmitted disease caused by loss of virginity. And, that loss doesn’t have to be by rape, date rape, or other violent assault; any sexual activity outside of marriage has the same effect. Perhaps we all know that people all have an inner knowledge of right and wrong often called conscience or as it is known in philosophy, “Natural Law”.
Somehow most medical doctors and especially social scientists failed to note Dr. Hallfors work, or apply her findings to social teaching. But an article published last year in JAMA Psychiatry found that teens who were started on the combination-hormone oral contraceptives had an 80 percent higher risk of starting on antidepressants than peers who never used oral contraceptives, and those who used the progestin-only pills had an even higher risk.
Additionally the American Journal of Psychiatry published a study this November which concluded that: “Use of hormonal contraception was positively associated with subsequent suicide attempt and suicide.” And adolescent women experienced the highest relative risk. Compared with adolescent women who never used hormonal contraceptives, the risk of successful suicide was just over three times greater in adolescent girls on oral contraceptives. Further analysis of the data showed most of the successful suicides came in the second month of oral contraceptive use.
Now, it is well known that association does not prove
cause and effect. But, it seems to me, and I’m sure to others, that the reason most adolescent girls start oral contraceptives is because they are having sex and wish to prevent pregnancy. Depression follows, and then comes use of antidepressants and with it an increased risk of suicide. One does not need to be a research scientist, a statistician, or even a doctor to see the possible connection.
THIS IS MONUMENTAL and should be foremost in mind when doctors prescribe oral contraceptives for adolescent girls. Every girl magazine should carry this information, every school nurse and every youth minister should make themselves aware of these studies. Every parent should think and talk about this when discussing sexuality with their pre-teens.
This is just one more reason teens and other non-married people need to remain virgins. I know many of today’s social workers, pediatricians, and other teen advisers say you can’t prevent kids from having sex, and I disagree. More than half of graduating high school girls have not had sex and only a little more than half of boys have. So something must work; strong compassionate parents are often the answer. It has been shown that the most important reason some kids do refrain from sex is they know what their parents think and don’t want to violate their wishes.
Today’s parents need to be parents who direct and lead their kids, and not try to be their best friends. Remember, all love is tough love.
For the statistics regarding the above studies click on the links highlighted above.