According to a study of 19,000 teens by the National Institutes of Health, promiscuous girls were four times more likely to experience depression than those who were virgins.2 Their symptoms included sadness, loss of appetite, and a sense of despair about the future, among others. Suicide was also found to be more likely among girls who were involved in sexual activity. On the other hand, boys and girls who remained virgins were found to have a lower rate of depression.3 When girls began to experiment sexually, they suffered emotionally.4 Boys were less affected. Who said life is fair?
The American Journal of Preventive Medicine offers further evidence of the connection between certain behaviors and depression. Their study is titled "Which Comes First in Adolescence—Sex and Drugs or Depression?"5 The answer, according to the research, is sex and drugs. Depression comes next, followed by self-loathing and attempts to harm oneself.
The American Psychological Association also confirmed this sequence. Their findings indicated that today's hookup culture causes serious psychological and even physical harm, as we have seen. Casual sex interferes with the development of personal identity, resulting in what is called "objectivization." That means girls begin to think of themselves merely as "sex objects" whose sense of worth is determined by how they function in a highly eroticized society. They give themselves to boys indiscriminately to prove they are valuable in the only currency they recognize. Afterward, especially if the relationship ends, they feel abused and discarded.
There is more. The Heritage Foundation reviewed relevant literature and issued a related report entitled "Sexually Active Teenagers Are More Likely to Be Depressed and to Attempt Suicide."6 These are some of their findings:
When compared to teens who are not sexually active, teenage boys and girls who are sexually active are significantly less likely to be happy and more likely to feel depressed. When compared to teens who are not sexually active, teenage boys and girls who are sexually active are significantly more likely to attempt suicide. Thus, in addition to its role in promoting teen pregnancy and the current epidemic of STDs, early sexual activity is a substantial factor in undermining the emotional well-being of American teenagers.7
A full quarter (25.3 percent) of teenage girls who are sexually active report that they are depressed all, most, or a lot of the time. By contrast, only 7.7 percent of teenage girls who are not sexually active report that they are depressed all, most, or a lot of the time. Thus, sexually active girls are more than three times more likely to be depressed than are girls who are not sexually active.8
Some 8.3 percent of teenage boys who are sexually active report that they are depressed all, most, or a lot of the time. By contrast, only 3.4 percent of teenage boys who are not sexually active are depressed all, most, or a lot of the time. Thus, boys who are sexually active are more than twice as likely to be depressed as those who are not sexually active.9
The Heritage Foundation then reported the issue of sexual activity as related to suicide. The findings are startling and should be of concern to every parent of teen girls.
A full 14.3 percent of girls who are sexually active report having attempted suicide. By contrast, only 5.1 percent of sexually inactive girls have attempted suicide. Thus, sexually active girls are nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide than are girls who are not sexually active.10
Among boys, 6.0 percent of those who are sexually active have attempted suicide. By contrast, only 0.7 percent of boys who are not sexually active have attempted suicide. Thus, sexually active teenage boys are eight times more likely to attempt suicide than are boys who are not sexually active.11
It is unusual for social scientists to be in virtual unanimity regarding the issues they are studying, but most are in agreement about the consequences of early sexual behavior. It is often the first step toward devastating emotional and physical harm, especially among those for whom intercourse has become habitual.
2.Martha W. Waller, Denise Dion Hallfors, Carolyn Tucker Halpern, Bonita Iritani, Carol A. Ford, and Guang Guo, "Gender Differences in Associations between Depressive Symptoms and Patterns of Substance Use and Risky Sexual Behavior among a Nationally Representative Sample of U.S. Adolescents," Archives of Women's Mental Health 9, no. 3 (May 2006): 139–150.
3. Ibid. 4. Ibid. 5.Denise D. Hallfors, Martha W. Waller, Daniel Bauer, Carol A. Ford, and Carolyn T. Halpern, "Which Comes First in Adolescence—Sex and Drugs or Depression?" American Journal of Preventative Medicine 29, no. 3 (October 2005): 163–170.
6.Robert E. Rector, Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D., and Lauren R. Noyes, "Sexually Active Teenagers Are More Likely to Be Depressed and to Attempt Suicide," Center for Data Analysis Report #03–04, Heritage Foundation (June 3, 2003).
Book: Bringing Up Girls
By Dr. James Dobson