Promiscuity Linked To Anxiety And Depression In College Students

Megan Charles

University researcher have suggested there is a link between promiscuity and anxiety and depression in college students.

As the acceptable commonality of casual sex (promiscuity) becomes more prevalent in our culture, behavioral researchers probe into the psychological consequences of such actions.

Researchers out of California State University found that promiscuity can contribute to elevated manifestations of anxiety and depression, especially among college-age individuals based on a study published in Journal of Sex Research.

The survey based research – led by Dr. Melina M. Bersamin of California State University, Sacramento – polled over 3,900 heterosexual college students from across the United States, using an online questionnaire. They inquired about casual sex behaviors and overall mental well-being.

Students from over 30 institutions around the country completed the survey, making it one of the largest samples to be collected for a study on this topic.

For the purposes of this survey model, according to Science 2.0, casual sex was defined as having intercourse with a partner known for less than a week. On average, 11 percent of respondents – the majority of whom were men – reported a casual sex encounter during the month prior to the survey.

A growing number of youths are experimenting sexually earlier and earlier these days; some as a result of peer pressure, others for the sake of assumed expectation based on popular media exposure. According to Bersamin, "It is premature to conclude that casual sexual encounters pose no harmful psychological risks for young adults."

"Risky Business: Is There an Association between Casual Sex and Mental Health among Emerging Adults?" identified higher levels of general and social anxiety along with depression among student who had recently engaged in casual sex.

The results suggested that among heterosexual college students, casual sex was negatively associated with well-being and positively associated with psychological distress; supporting the theory that promiscuity may cause anxiety and depression.

The double standard of casual sex and gender was investigated – as typically women respond more negatively to casual sex than men, but again that is usually due to the assumption that it is more acceptable for a man to engage in audaciously promiscuous sexual acts without the stigma women are often branded with.

In this study, however, gender did not have an effect on the overall findings.

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