COLUMBUS, Ohio – A new study suggests that poor mental health and casual sex feed off each other in teens and young adults, with each one contributing to the other over time.
Researchers found that teens who showed depressive symptoms were more likely than others to engage in casual sex as young adults. In addition, those who engaged in casual sex were more likely to later seriously consider suicide.
“Several studies have found a link between poor mental health and casual sex, but the nature of that association has been unclear,” said Sara Sandberg-Thoma, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in human sciences at The Ohio State University.
“There’s always been a question about which one is the cause and which is the effect. This study provides evidence that poor mental health can lead to casual sex, but also that casual sex leads to additional declines in mental health.”
Sandberg-Thoma conducted the study with Claire Kamp Dush, assistant professor of human sciences at Ohio State. The research was published online recently in the Journal of Sex Research and will appear in a future print edition. One surprising finding was that the link between casual sex and mental health was the same for both men and women.
“That was unexpected because there is still this sexual double standard in society that says it is OK for men to have casual sexual relationships, but it is not OK for women,” Kamp Dush said.
“But these results suggest that poor mental health and casual sex are linked, whether you’re a man or a woman.” (Read more.)Share