Does Collegiate Casual Sex Cause Anxiety and Depression?

A recent survey of nearly 4,000 American college students reveals that those who have casual sex are also more likely to suffer from states of anxiety and depression.

What's the Latest Development?


A recent survey of nearly 4,000 American college students reveals that those who have casual sex are also more likely to suffer from states of anxiety and depression. Published in The Journal of Sex Research, the survey defined casual sex as having intercourse with a partner one has known for less than a week. According to study leader Dr. Melina Bersamin, "It is premature to conclude that casual sexual encounters pose no harmful psychological risks for young adults." The results "suggest that among heterosexual college students, casual sex was negatively associated with well-being and positively associated with psychological distress."

What's the Big Idea?

On average, 11 percent of students reported a casual sex encounter during the month prior to the survey, the majority of whom were men. While previous studies have suggested that women suffer more of the negative psychological effects which accompany casual sex than men, possibly because it is less socially acceptable for women to have casual sex, gender did not affect the outcome of the most recent survey. "Researchers have yet to determine whether casual sex leads to psychological distress, or if existing mental health problems cause young adults to engage in riskier behaviors."

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