teenagers are more likely to engage in higher-risk sexual
activities if they also are experiencing symptoms of
depression, researchers write in the journal
Pediatrics, Reuters Health reports. A national
study of more than 4,150 boys and girls showed that
among boys, the greater the symptoms of depression, the
more likely they were to report not using condoms or any
type of birth control the last time they had sex.
Risky sex among boys also was linked with drug and
alcohol use. Girls with greater depression symptoms were
also less likely to have used condoms or other birth control
measures the last time they had sex and were also
significantly more likely to have had multiple sex
partners during the previous year.
The study data is
particularly troubling, the researchers say, because as
many as 20% of adolescents experience clinical depression.
Some studies also have shown that gay and lesbian
youths are at a higher risk of depression and other
mental health ailments than their heterosexual peers.
Researchers also note that half of all new sexually
transmitted disease cases occur among adolescents and
that HIV infection rates are rapidly rising among
teens and young adults.
findings underscore that it is important for parents to be
familiar with signs of depression among adolescent boys and
girls," researcher Jocelyn A. Lehrer of the University
of California, San Francisco, the study's lead author,
told Reuters Health. "In addition to providing strong
and consistent emotional support to their teens, it is
important for parents to encourage and actively support
their teens in seeking mental health care when
needed." (The Advocate)