The Relationship Between Sexual Activity and Depressive Symptoms in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youth: Effects of Gender and Family Support.

Janna Dickenson, David Huebner, Janna Dickenson, David M Huebner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is considerable debate over whether adolescent sexual activity is maladaptive and associated with worse mental health outcomes versus a positive developmental milestone that is associated with better mental health outcomes. Although these perspectives are often pitted against one another, the current study employed a more integrative perspective: adolescent sexual activity may be maladaptive in certain contexts, but healthy in other contexts. We investigated whether family support and gender moderated the relation between sexual activity and mental health outcomes in a diverse sample of 519 lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth. Specifically, we examined whether youth who engaged in more sexual activity would have fewer depressive symptoms in the context of a more supportive family environment, but more depressive symptoms in the context of a less supportive family environment and whether this effect was stronger for sexual minority girls. Consistent with the sexual health perspective, we found that among girls with more family support, those who engaged in more frequent same-sex sexual contact had lower levels of depressive symptoms. Unexpectedly, we found that among boys with more family support, those who engaged in more frequent same-sex sexual contact had higher levels of depressive symptoms. In contrast, girls and boys with less family support showed no relation between sexual activity and depressive symptoms. Overall, results suggest that context is critical when determining whether same-sex sexual contact among LGB youth should be considered maladaptive or beneficial.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)671-681
Number of pages11
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Volume45
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Keywords

  • SEXUAL intercourse
  • MENTAL health of LGBT people
  • DEPRESSION in adolescence
  • SEXUAL minorities
  • SEXUAL orientation
  • Adolescence
  • Depression
  • Family support
  • Sexual activity
  • Sexual orientation

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

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