Being cheated on can feel like the end of the world, but the experience causes more than a broken heart. New research from the University of Nevada, Reno, has found that being cheated on is linked to depression and anxiety, and may also lead to more risky behaviors, such as having unprotected sex and binge drinking.

The recent study found that becoming a victim of infidelity can increase the likelihood of psychological distress and may also increase the risk of abusing alcohol and/or drugs, and developing an eating or exercise disorder, The Independent reported. Researchers theorized that cheating may damage self-esteem, and make people want to retaliate against their unfaithful partner. In addition, women experience more distress after being cheated on than men, so they're also more likely to experience poor mental and physical health consequences.

“Being cheated on seems to not only have mental health consequences, but also increases risky behaviours,” lead author M. Rosie Shrout told PsyPost “We also found that people who blamed themselves for their partner cheating, such as feeling like it was their fault or they could have stopped it, were more likely to engage in risky behaviors.”

Read: Who Is Most Likely To Cheat? The Top 9 Jobs That Unfaithful People Have, According To A Survey

For the study, the team looked at 232 college students who had been cheated on within the past three months. According to PsyPost, the average length of relationship for the volunteers was 1.76 years and the average age was 20.

The team found significant connections between being cheated on an increased prevalence of mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Being cheated on also increased the risk of engaging in behaviors that compromised your physical health, such as eating too much or not eating at all, using alcohol and marijuana too often, having sex under the influence of drugs and alcohol, having unprotected sex, and exercising too much. These effects were more or less the same, regardless of whether the individual left or stayed in the relationships after being cheated on.

“It is possible that infidelity is such a serious and distressing relationship event that these intense negative reactions occur regardless of whether a person stays in the relationship,” wrote the researchers, PsyPost reported.“As we continue this line of research, we hope to better understand the emotional and physical health toll of infidelity.”

There's no way to prevent someone from cheating on you, but research has suggested that some people may be more likely to cheat on their partners than others. For example, a 2016 survey completed by the “infidelity dating website” Victoria Milan found that individuals who work in the finance field, such as brokers, bankers, and analysts, are more likely to cheat on their partners than other professionals, Mirror reported. In addition, other high-cheating work fields include pilots, athletes, and those in the healthcare and business industries. DJs, lawyers, and journalists also made the “top 10” list, according to the Victoria Milan survey.

Source: Shrout MR, Weigel DJ. Infidelity’s aftermath: Appraisals, mental health, and health-compromising behaviors following a partner’s infidelity. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships . 2017

See Also:

Blondes Do Have More Fun, More Likely to Cheat

Sexual Relationships: 6 Key Signs Your Partner Is Cheating