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Does Frequent Casual Sex Increase The Chance Of Depression?

Does Frequent Casual Sex Increase The Chance Of Depression?

Does Frequent Casual Sex Increase The Chance Of Depression?

By Tatyana Dyachenko

The physical health benefits of regular sex are well-documented, but there is no clear-cut verdict on the effect that regular sex (of the casual kind) has on mental health. Medical Daily recently published an article describing a survey of nearly four thousand college students. The survey found that students who hook up often and casually ‘have higher levels of anxiety, social anxiety, and depression’. Yet is it fair to say that casual sex increases the chance of depression?

The article raises a crucial point made by a doctor and professor at California State University in Sacramento - even if a larger incidence of depression is found amongst people who sleep around, it is difficult to say which is the cause and which is the effect: is increased casual sex a cause of anxiety and depression, or do anxiety and depression make people more disposed to casual encounters (a kind of ‘self-medication’)?

According to one researcher quoted in the article, many students who hook up casually do so with the hope of a romantic relationship developing. This might seem like a naive practice to some - waiting a short while before getting sexually involved is likely a wiser means for establishing a relationship, as a potential partner who is only interested in sex might not stick around long if he/she does not get sexual gratification quickly.

Given the emotional complexity of sexual relationships, it does perhaps make sense that frequent casual sex would increase a person’s chance of becoming depressed. After all, a casual encounter could easily develop into one-sided romantic attachment, and casual partners can be much blunter as well as less considerate when there is no long-term investment or ‘contract’.

As the article notes, older people are more inclined to seek out romantic (rather than primarily sexual) attachments than college students. Rather than sex being the culprit, college students might also be more prone to depression because of academic stressors and pressures. Whatever the limitations of the research methods used, it is obvious that casual sex could make those who prefer long-term attachments miserable, while extroverts who love variety in their sex lives might find frequently changing sexual partners regenerating and enjoyable.

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