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Drugs, sex may lead to teens’ depression

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.

Drugs, sex may lead to teens’ depression

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder & CEO of Psych Central. He is an author, researcher and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues -- as well as the intersection of technology and human behavior -- since 1992. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member and treasurer of the Society for Participatory Medicine. He writes regularly and extensively on mental health concerns, the intersection of technology and psychology, and advocating for greater acceptance of the importance and value of mental health in today's society. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Drugs, sex may lead to teens’ depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 24, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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