Teen Sex Not a Major Cause of Depression, Study Finds
> 6/1/2007 1:43:27 PM

A recent study published in the May issue of the American Journal of Sociology, found that most teens who have sex are not at risk for depression. The study found that depression was not a major risk for teens who engaged in sexual activity, but that a small subset was affected at a higher rate. That group, composed of the youngest teens in the study--girls 15-years-old or younger and boys 14 or younger--suffered mental health consequences as a result of engaging in sexual activity in relationships that were not emotionally close.

Speaking to Medical News Today lead researcher Ann Meier, University of Minnesota assistant professor of sociology and author of the study made sure to point out that while not as common as many would make it sound, sex can lead to negative outcomes for some teens.

"Being female or younger than the average age at first-time sex among your peers increases the chance of depression, as does a lack of commitment or intimacy within the relationship and what happens to the relationship after first-time sex. For girls in uncommitted relationships, ending a relationship with sex has more of an impact on mental health than ending that same relationship if it did not involve sex."

In her study, Meier polled 8,563 7th- through 12th-graders students over an 18-month period. She compared the mental health of teens who didn't have sex to teens who were virgins at the beginning of the study, but who lost their virginity during the 18-month period.

Although the study suggests that the risks of developing depression is low for most teens, it in no way glorfies or suggests that teenage sex is without risks. Meier contends that the study should be used to target the groups of teens who are at the highest risk for depression following first time sex. This research should provide a guide to those interested in improving sexual education curricula, as well as those who continue to research the subject.

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