According to information from a new study, college students are more likely to suffer from mental health problems like depression after “hooking up,” or participating in casual sex.
This study, recently published in The Journal of Sex Research, found that the students who were engaging in casual sex suffered from higher levels of anxiety and depression. The study was conducted after researchers discovered an increase in “hookup” culture as portrayed by the type of encounters seen in recent films like “Friends With Benefits” and “No Strings Attached.” The study was conducted with researchers conducting a survey (originated from a previous study) that looked into the way young adults behaved in regards to their “culture, identity, health and risky behavior.”
Researchers chose to survey college students about their sexual behavior and mental health. The students surveyed, who attended 30 different schools across the United States, were asked if they engaged in casual sex with a person that they knew for less than a week. The students that reported having done so also seemed to have lower self-esteem than the students who didn’t.
“It is premature to conclude that casual sexual encounters pose no harmful psychological risks for young adults,” said Dr. Melina Bersamin, a research scientist with California State University-Sacramento and lead author of the study.
The survey also found that gender wasn’t a factor in the self-esteem aspects of the study results, even though more men than women engaged in casual sex. Still, this doesn’t mean that people who participate in casual sex end up depressed as a result.
“I want to highlight that this study is correlational,” Bersamin tells U.S. News. “It may be that people who are depressed or anxious are more likely to seek out casual sex relationships and not that casual sex causes depression or anxiety.”
Depression is often treated with antidepressants like Paxil or Effexor, which are in a class of drug called SSRIs. SSRIs have long been the subject of numerous studies that sought to test their efficacy and safety. Paxil and Effexor have been known to cause patients to suffer from violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior as well as lead to birth defects in babies born to mothers who take the pills while pregnant. The birth defects linked to Paxil and Effexor use include PPHN, spina bifida, neural tube defects, oral clefts and heart, lung and brain defects. These side effects have caused many doctors to stop prescribing the drugs to patients in favor of more traditional talk therapy.