Depressed women seek more sex than those who are happy because it makes them feel more secure, a study has found.
Those with mild to moderate depression indulge in up to a third more sexual activity than others, whether they are in a relationship or not.
The researchers suggest an increased sex life could be a help, if not a cure, for depression for some women.
The findings were presented at an international mental health conference in Melbourne by clinical researcher Dr Sabura Allen.
She and her team were able to confirm suspicions from earlier research that women who were in relationships but were depressed were likely to look for sexual intimacy more often to help them feel more secure.
"When people are depressed they feel more insecure about their relationships and concerned that their partner may not care about them or find them valuable," said Dr Allen, who is based at Melbourne's Monash University.
"Having sex helps them feel that closeness and security."
Turning to depressed single women, she said she had found a trend towards more casual sex than with happier singles.
After delivering her findings to the conference, Dr Allen was asked whether having sex could be an effective aid for lessening or beating depression.
"We really don't know but we presume it helps as it gives these women opportunities to be close to their partner and loved," she said.