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Depression Among College Students Linked to Hook-up Culture, Study Says

A new study in The Journal of Sex Research links depression and anxiety among college students with casual sex.

Eleven percent of the 3,900 heterosexual students from the more than 30 different colleges and universities around the country surveyed reported having had “casual sex” in the month prior to the survey, with casual sex being defined as intercourse with someone they’ve known for less than a week.

Somewhat surprisingly, gender had no effect on the levels of anxiety and depression.

Dr. Melina M. Bersamin of California State University, Sacramento, who led the study, said in a press release announcing the study’s findings that “casual sex was negatively associated with well-being and positively associated with psychological distress.”

While the study links casual sex and depression, it stipulates that it cannot definitively declare whether the casual sex leads to depression or whether depression and anxiety lead some to engage in casual sex. Dr. Bersamin did say, “It is premature to conclude that casual sexual encounters pose no harmful psychological risks for young adults.”

Catholic University of America President John Garvey wrote recently in an editorial that “Casual sex is harmful even if there is no coercion. It plays at love for sport. It makes promises that the players don't intend to keep. It insults the dignity of the other person by treating him or her as a sex toy rather than a child of God. It divorces sex from the creation of new life and the unity of a family.”

A Catholic News Agency report in 2011 linked co-ed dorms with the hook-up culture, pointing out that students in co-ed dorms are more than twice as likely to have had three or more sexual partners.

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