Depression symptoms as a potential mediator of the association between disordered eating symptoms and sexual function in women service members and veterans

Whitney S. Livingston, Jamison D. Fargo, Rebecca K. Blais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sexual dysfunction is associated with disorders commonly diagnosed in service members/veterans (SM/Vs; e.g., depression, posttraumatic stress disorder) and increased risk for suicide in service women. Theory indicates depression may play an important role in predicting sexual dysfunction in the presence of certain mental health challenges, such as disordered eating symptoms. Given the risk for depression and incidence of eating disorders in women SM/Vs, the current study examined whether depressive symptoms mediated the association of disordered eating symptoms and sexual dysfunction in women SM/Vs. Participants (n = 494) were recruited via social media and completed measures of sexual function, disordered eating symptoms, depressive symptom severity, a demographic inventory, and measures of relationship satisfaction and trauma exposure (covariates). Based on self-report measures, probable sexual dysfunction, eating disorder, and depressive disorders were found among 58.70%, 38.5%, and 44.13% of participants, respectively. The relationship of higher disordered eating symptoms and lower sexual function was indirect, through higher depressive symptoms (indirect effect: −0.57, 95% confidence interval: −0.82, −0.34). Findings underscore the importance of screening for sexual function, particularly when disordered eating behavior or depression is present. Integrating treatment for sexual function into existing treatments for women SM/Vs with disordered eating and depression symptoms may be valuable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMilitary Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • depression
  • feeding and eating disorders
  • service members
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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