A study examined the perspectives of depressed young
women on sexual relationships and behavior.
Purposive sampling identified female outpatients age
15-23 who were depressed and recently sexually
in-depth, semi-structured, audio-recorded interview,
participants discussed how their depression related
to formation and quality of sexual relationships,
sexual intercourse attitudes, motivations, desire
and frequency, and motivation and ability to be safe
in sexual relationships. Interview recordings were
transcribed and analyzed using thematic analysis.
Interviews were conducted with eight young women
with depression and sexual risk behavior.
Participants reported difficulty in both developing
and maintaining intimate relationships.
some, not being in a relationship was a choice, out
of concern for the effect of their depression on the
relationship or the effect of the relationship on
For others, not being in a relationship was a
function of less interest or drive to be intimate.
result, some women intentionally chose partners
outside a relationship and sex was often detached
Although women reported less sexual interest and
lower emotional energy for sex, several were having
sex frequently to manage their depressive symptoms,
e.g., to boost mood, to relieve stress, to escape,
to feel less lonely, to feel wanted, to cope with
negative mood, or to feel normal.
women engaged in sex as part of not caring about
themselves or overt self-harming.
Several thought their depression made them
Generally, women described sex as being less safe
owing to impaired judgment, increased impulsivity,
apathy, and alcohol.
As a result, sometimes efforts to feel better led to
Journal of Adolescent Health
104. Less Intimacy, But More Sex: Young Women With
Depression Talk About Their Sexual Relationships and