The relationship between early age of first sexual intercourse and vulnerability to depression among adolescents
Jamieson, Luanne K.
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Past empirical literature has provided conflicted results regarding the association between adolescent coitus and depression. While some studies conclude that those youth who are sexually active may be at risk for depression, others provide contrary results, or findings that are only representative of high-risk sexual behaviors such as intercourse without a condom. Thus, the results are unclear as to whether depression results directly from coitus, or if this relationship is spurious; that is, there may be biological, psychological, or sociological variables that may predict both depression and early sexual intercourse. Using the Add Health restricted dataset, I analyzed the depressive symptomatology of adolescents over a seven-year time period. The final sample (n=6,51O) was comprised of 49.35% male (n=3,213) and 50.65% female (n=3,297) participants. Results indicated that the relationship between earlier adolescent sexual intercourse and later depressive symptomatology is spurious. Although an earlier age of first coitus is predictive of later depressive symptomatology, both variables appear to be concomitant outcomes of the biopsychosocial process. Thus, while one may be able to use early coitus as a marker for subsequent depressive symptomatology, it does not occur because of early coitus. Furthermore, the reverse relationship was not found to be significant in this study. That is, higher levels of depressive symptomatology do not predict an earlier age of first sexual intercourse in adolescents.