April 12, 2006
The researchers sought to determine prospectively the relationship between a diagnosis of sexually transmitted infection (STI) and depressive symptomatology. They performed secondary data analyses on 175 sexually active African-American female adolescents recruited in high-risk neighborhoods in Birmingham, Ala.
ANCOVA was used to compare participants who tested positive with those who tested negative on three waves of depressive symptom scores, controlling for age. At six months, the STI-positive group had higher depressive symptom levels relative to the STI-negative group. Baseline depressive symptom levels moderated this result: For adolescents above the clinical threshold, the STI-negative group experienced a decrease in symptoms at six months, while the STI-positive group maintained the same level. The researchers found no changes in depressive symptom levels, regardless of diagnosis, for participants below the clinical threshold.
"Receiving an STI diagnosis may affect depressive symptomatology for those at risk for depression," the authors concluded. "Screening for depression in settings that provide STI testing and treatment may be warranted for this population."