Teen drinking tends to be discouraged—yet having an occasional beer could actually be beneficial to them, especially girls, according to new research. In fact, high school girls who drank once or twice with friends in the past month were less likely to feel down in the dumps than those who didn’t, according to Timothy Owens, a sociology professor at Indiana’s Purdue University. Besides just blowing off steam, drinking “can loosen them up, but even more important, it gets them interacting with their peers. And because girls especially value building and maintaining social relationships, it seems to have a positive effect on how they feel,” he told Canwest News Service. Strangely, boys didn’t show the same correlation, maybe because of the different way males tend to socialize. According to some studies, half of all teens have had at least one drink by the end of high school, and it’s almost always with friends. Owens’ research, published in the Journal of Adolescence, looked at just over 1,000 high school students. He insists that binge-drinking, getting drunk regularly, or drinking alone are an entirely different matter. This study looked at the relationship between teen drinking and feeling sad, not clinical depression, he notes.