Individual, Family & Group Psychotherapy
Locations in New York & New Jersey
Aug 8

Depression and Your Sex Life


By Dennis Thompson Jr.
Medically reviewed by Christine Wilmsen Craig, MD

Depression drains the color out of life’s pleasures, robs enthusiasm, and makes everything feel bland and flat — including your sex life. About 35 to 47 percent of people dealing with depression find the mood disorder interferes with their sexuality. That percentage jumps even higher based on the intensity of the condition — more than 60 percent of patients with severe depression report sexual problems.

Why Sex and Depression Don’t Mix

The old adage about how the brain is the biggest sex organ in the body is a truer statement than you might realize. The brain controls sexual drive, arousal, and sexual function through the release of hormones and nerve impulses.

Depression stems from a chemical imbalance in the brain, and that imbalance can cause interference with a person’s ability to enjoy sex or perform sexually. Depression has been linked to:

A decrease in libido. A study of depressed patients showed that more than two-thirds of respondents reported a loss of interest in sex. The decrease in their libido grew worse as their depression grew more severe.
Erectile dysfunction. Depression and anxiety are leading psychological factors interfering in a man’s ability to have and sustain an erection.
Inability to enjoy sex. Depression can limit or eliminate the pleasure normally drawn from sex, says David MacIsaac, PhD, a licensed psychologist in New York and New Jersey and a faculty member of the New York Institute for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology. Depressed men, he says, “feel disconnected from any sexual experience. It’s a dehumanization kind of situation.”

Another adage holds that the cure can be worse than the disease, and this too can be true when it comes to depression and sexuality. Antidepressants are part of the first-line treatment of the mood disorder, but one of their chief side effects can be sexual dysfunction. Decrease in libido is most often reported, but patients also have found that antidepressants can cause erectile dysfunction and inhibit sexual pleasure. Some people taking antidepressants also report a loss of sexual desire or trouble reaching orgasm.

Reconnecting With Your Sexuality

The best way to eliminate sexual problems associated with depression is to treat and cure the illness. As patients begin to feel better about themselves, they begin to see their lives improving in all sorts of way, including their love lives, MacIsaac says.

While receiving treatment, you can better cope with your sex problems if you discuss your depression and its effect on your sexuality with your doctor and your partner. It can be very difficult to open up about these sorts of problems, but if your partner understands that the issue lies with an illness and not the relationship, he may be better able to support you through treatment.

If the antidepressant you take is interfering with your sexuality, your doctor can switch your prescription to another drug. There are many antidepressants on the market now, and each has different effects on different people. You and your doctor can work together to find the right treatment for your depression with the least impact on your love life.

Leave a Reply

Site by EMTRER