Depression and Sex: How does depression affect your sexual health?

The brain is an adobe from where messages are transmitted to different parts of the body – be it the eyes, hands, toes, ankle, knees, penis or even the vagina.

When a person is depressed or not in the best of moods then neurotransmitters in the brain do not function properly and the brain circuit fails to use its chemicals for transmission of signals via nerves.

Be aware that if you are suffering from clinical depression and a low sexual drive, you are not alone. Many people who are going through a bad phase in life cannot deal with the stress and shut down in the process. They close doors to all the possibilities and fall into a state of depression which harms the body in a multitude of ways.

Some problems can be erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and the inability to achieve an orgasm at all. In the case of women, they lose their libido (sexual desire) and have a tough time regaining it, in spite of regaining emotional stability.

Scientists and researchers have studied patients who suffer from depression and have succeeded in branching depression under varied categories.

They are the following:

  • Psychotic depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Persistent depressive disorder (can exist for up to 2 years)
  • Seasonal affective depression disorder (mainly comes into play when the atmosphere is full and the sun does not rise often – winter months)
  • Postpartum depression (women who give birth face this kind of depression and irritation due to change in hormonal attributes

Chronic depression is known to curb a person’s sex drive, irrespective of gender. These people experience a loss of desire and find sex less enjoyable.

Read on to learn about reasons and solutions to get out of this blues bubble:

  • Lack of pleasure and increased emotional sensitivity: People who are depressed do not find pleasure in most things that they would pre-depression. Even sex seems pointless and unenjoyable. When things go south in a relationship, a depressed person misinterprets the action of their partner and gets even angrier, ultimately completely shutting the doors for sex.
  • Form of medication being consumed: It should no come to you as a surprise – but most medicines that are used for depression treatment lead to reduces libido in both women and men. These branches that these medicines come under are called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). They included Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil or Brisdelle (Paroxetine) and Celexa (Citalopram). People who are depressed often suffer from very quick reabsorption of existing serotonin back into the brain. SSRIs block this reuptake back in the nerves and in turn, increases the availability of Serotonin for clearer and effective message transmission between neurons and a positive effect of emotions and overall mood.

Now, medicines may help get rid of depression symptoms. But antidepressants such as SSRIs have unwanted side effects on sexual organs that lead to sexual dysfunctionality.

The fact is that the chemicals that SSRIs increases for reducing depression are the same chemical that is aggravated during sexual responses. These antidepressants obstruct the nerve pathway that helps in sexual stimulation.

For example, Serotonin like neurotransmitters are taken from other parts of the body (which contribute to sex) and given to the brain.

Some more medicines under this category are:

  • Selective Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Tricyclic and tetracyclic forms of medications
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Leads to low energy levels and difficulty in bonding: Depressed people are often known to have ridiculous sleeping cycles. Such as sleeping more than needed or sleeping lesser than needed. This does not help the body get back to its normal state of operation and leads to constant fatigue and disinterest which steals their sexual energy. This disinterested mindset also affects your partner and brings about an aura of breaking up the relation due to the inability to communicate and keep each other happy.
  • Visit a psychotherapist or a sex therapist along with your partner: Deep dive into the roots of the cause for depression. These professionals are aware of methods that stabilize your mood and eradicate the need for medication. When the psychotherapist shows signs of empathy and relates to everything you say – you automatically begin to feel comfortable and your mood begins to stabilize.

Sex therapists are the ideal people to visit in case you and your partner are facing sexual inconsistencies. They are aware of how to resolve conflicts and openly question you to find out whether the problem is sexual positions, sexual power or ejaculation duration.

Once these issues are resolved, couples open up more and sexual intimacy increases. This increase in sexual intimacy is characterized by a positive shift in mood and eliminates depression.

Depression leading to lower sex drive – Women as compared to Men

Women tend to have a higher rate of depression as compared to men, this occurs due to their hormonal shifts which affect the way chemicals in the brain function, leading to depression and negative thoughts about all the good things in life.

Common situations which lead to hormonal shifts and possible depression are:

  • Post childbirth
  • During the period of perimenopause and menopause
  • A few days before menstruation, during menstruation and post menstruation
  • While dealing with multiple stressful situations at the same time – family life, personal obligations, and work

As women age, their vaginal walls become rough and make intercourse or foreplay unpleasant. Also, when estrogen levels are lower than usual, the lubrication in the vagina reduces making sex highly unpleasant. All these reasons lead to depression and further loss of sex drive in women.

Men, on the other hand, do not fall into depression as often as women – because they suffer from almost one-tenth of hormonal changes that women suffer from. On the other hand, they are more likely to lose interest in sexual activity while they are depressed.

Antidepressants are often consumed by men and this leads to unwanted side effects such as delayed orgasms and inability to maintain an erection for a long period of time.

Ultimately, we are aware that sexual desire stems from the brain and all sexual organs are dependent on the brain chemicals to instil a sexual desire.

If your doctor refuses to accept that the prescribed antidepressants are the cause of lower sex drive then ask him or her if Mirtazapine (Remeron), Bupropion (Wellbutrin) or Nefazodone (Serzone) suits your body palette or not.

After carefully considering all the above points in this article we can conclude that depression and the form of treatment can help in resolving issues, but with drawbacks.

It may take time to find the correct medicine and thus it is advised to be in constant touch with your healthcare professional.