Depression in Girls 'Linked to Teenage Sex'
Byline: JONATHAN PETRE, JO MACFARLANE
YOUNG girls who are sexually active are far more likely to suffer from depression than those who remain virgins, according to a controversial new study.
American academics found that teenage sex leaves many girls with feelings of guilt and low self-esteem.
Following a study of more than 14,000 adolescents aged between 14 and 17, researchers said that these feelings could be directly ascribed to sexual activity, rather than outside influences, such as family difficulties.
The findings, which will fuel the debate about sex education in schools, were hailed as 'groundbreaking' last night by British experts who promote abstinence.
But critics said that the research, which appears in the respected Journal of Health Economics, reflected American attitudes that did not necessarily apply in this country.
The 38-page study, which was conducted by two American academics, used data from the US government-funded National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, based at the University of North Carolina.
It found that having sex apparently doubled the chances of girls becoming depressed, with 19 per cent of those who had sex exhibiting major symptoms of depression, compared with 9.2 per cent who had not had sex
The study also found that the mental health of boys in the same age group did not depend on whether they were sexually active. …