realitycheck(dot)ie

Irish doctor with too many thoughts, too little time and a blog that's supposed to check in on reality.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Teenage Sex causes Depression in Girls?

Was looking something else up and came accross this article entitled "Which Comes First in Adolescence—Sex and Drugs or Depression?" from October's American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The research is based on the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in the US and looks at depression and the risk behaviours of sex and drugs.
From the conclusion of the article -
"Depression is a complex problem that is determined by both proximal and distal biological and experiential factors.The present analyses provide strong evidence to support the hypothesis that adolescent sex and drug behaviors may play a causal or mediating role in the development of adolescent depressive disorders. Our findings, based on nationally representative data, are consistent with longitudinal studies indicating that adolescent substance use contributes to depression. Our results also add new evidence that patterns of sex and drug behaviors during adolescence pose depression risks, particularly for girls. Further, present findings do not support the theory that youth initiate sex and drug behaviors to "self-medicate" depression.
Previous examinations of adolescent depression, and attempts to explain gender differences in depression prevalence, have not systematically considered sexual experimentation and drug use. Instead, earlier work has focused primarily on hormonal and morphologic changes related to puberty, and psychological/affective reactions to these physical changes and to other life events. Our findings, however, indicate that experimentation with substance use and sexual activity play an important role in depression, regardless of pubertal timing or status. They also offer insight into sex differences in depression. For females, even modest involvement in substance use and sexual experimentation elevates depression risk. In contrast, boys show little added risk with experimental behavior, but binge drinking and frequent use of marijuana contribute substantial risk.
Our findings are consistent with theoretical perspectives suggesting that girls' greater interpersonal sensitivity contributes to higher levels of interpersonal stress during adolescence. "


I have posted about sex education before, and whether or not it's actually the most useful and effective away of disseminating information about responsible sexual practices.
Research like this begs the question - should sex education be more about delayed onset of sexual activity and empowered decision making than simply "here's a condom - use it"???

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