Depression and a tendency to engage in casual sex are intrinsically linked, researchers have suggested.
A study of 10,000 people found that the teenage sample who had at some point participated in no-strings liaisons also had suicidal thoughts.
The lead author of the study, Dr Sara Sandberg-Thomas, said: ‘Several studies have found a link between poor mental health and casual sex, but the nature of that association has been unclear.
‘There’s always been a question about which one is the cause and which is the effect.
American teenagers were first interviewed between the ages of 13 and 18 and then again, at a later date, between 18 and 26.
The study, published in the Journal of Sex Research, also stated that the perilous link between casual sex and mental health was the same for both men and women.
A casual sex relationship is expressed as sexual relations only and no dating, with 33 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women admitting to engaging in them.
‘That was unexpected because there is still this sexual double standard in society that says it is OK for men to have casual sexual relationships, but it is not OK for women,’ said Dr Claire Kamp Dush.
For every single casual sex encounter it was found that the odds of suicidal thoughts jumped 18 per cent.