If you’re single and feeling depressed or anxious you may want to ask yourself when was the last time you had sex. While some research suggests that sex actually reduces depression, having it with someone you aren’t in a serious relationship with actually might have a negative impact on your mental health.
A recent study looked at college students and found a correlation between casual sex and mental health. The study found that those who engaged in “casual sex” (sleeping with someone they had known for less than a week) resulted in increased anxiety as well as depression.
Why is this? Well there’s a possibility that wondering whether or not the person you just met and slept with is going to call can be anxiety-inducing, and their failure to call might make you feel a little blue. However the study seems to be looking deeper than the feelings that might be associated with rejection; a point eloquently made in the article notes that those who are “depressed or anxious may be more likely to seek out casual sex.”
Additionally while the study looks at college students, some of us are/were in college as parents, so the data pool doesn’t seem too farfetched in making it applicable to adults in general. Students who had casual sex also reported feeling less satisfied with their lives — their self-esteem immensely impacted by their decision to hook up with someone they hardly knew.
The findings of this study just might be enough to make one think twice before engaging in casual sex. Yet I can’t help but wonder if it is enough food for thought for a young college student eager to immerse themselves in their new-found independence. Will knowing the ramifications of casual sex discourage it or will they take on the invincible mentality (it won’t happen to me) prevalent during the teenage years?
In the end it seems hard to say and boils down to how you look at it and whether the pros outweigh the cons. Casual sex can bring on a host of challenges, conjure up old emotions left from relationships past, and land you in your therapist’s chair (or perhaps even spilling your guts to your mother while hoping she doesn’t say,“I told you so”).
Even so, is the risk of depression worth refraining from going out into the world (or college campus) and sowing your wild oats? Furthermore as parents of future college students, will this be an issue we should be tackling with our teens? When it comes to sex, somewhere in the discussions on the risk of pregnancy, STIs and broken hearts, should we touch upon mental health as well? I’d like to think so and believe I would be doing my children a disservice if mental health didn’t play a role in our conversations.
For more on the correlation between casual sex and mental health visit the NY Daily News.
Photo Source: iStockphoto
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