In many cases, teenagers’ drug use and sex behaviors may precede the development of depression, new research suggests. The findings challenge the belief that depressed teenagers engage in sex and drugs as a means of “self-medicating” their mental health condition.
“Sex and drug use are more dangerous in some ways, I think, than we thought,” study author Dr. Denise D. Hallfors, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill told Reuters Health.
“This is a wake-up call for parents and others to say experimenting with these behaviors is not a good idea,” she added.
According to the 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance survey, almost half of high school students throughout the nation have had intercourse, 45 percent have consumed alcoholic beverages and 22 percent have used marijuana at some point during the previous month. Further, 29 percent have experienced depressive symptoms, including feelings of sadness and hopelessness that lasted for two weeks or more and led them to stop participating in normal activities.