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Mental Problems affect Sexual Behaviors

Young people who show signs of psychiatric problems are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors that can only exacerbate their situation.

      Researchers at the University of Otago Medical School in Dunedin, New Zealand studied the behavior of more than 900 men and woman, all age 21. Study participants with depression, a history of substance abuse, symptoms of schizophrenia or antisocial disorders were more likely to engage in risky sexual intercourse, contract sexually transmitted diseases or have sexual intercourse before age 16 than young people without psychiatric problems.
  The finding that depression was linked with these three outcomes, researchers say, is particularly troubling because depression rates escalate between ages 15 and 21, a period when sexual activity often begins. Young people with psychiatric problems who engage in risky sexual behavior may be faced with an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease, adding to the difficulties they already face.

      In an accompanying editorial, Drs. David Bennett of the Royal Alexandria Hospital for Children in Sydney, Australia and Adrian Bauman of the Liverpool Hospital, also in Sydney, write, "the coexistence of drugs, risky sex and mental health problems remains a consistent observation." This triangle of behaviors has also been seen in young people in the United States and United Kingdom. Researchers conclude that better coordination is needed between facilities that treat sexual issues in adolescents and young adults and those that provide mental-health treatment.

This study is published in the July 28/00 issue of British Medical Journal.

Reference Source 38,89

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