Depression can affect all aspects of life, including sexual health. Both men and women can experience sexual difficulties when going through depression. Depression causes a low mood, general disinterest and a feeling of anhedonia, an inability to appreciate things. These weak feelings also lead to an inability to get aroused, maintain arousal (erection), and achieve orgasm.
We reached out to Dr Sonal Anand, a psychiatrist at Wockhardt Hospitals in Mumbai, to discuss how depression can affect sexual health. Continue reading.
Negative emotions affect libido
Depression can lead to low self-esteem and mistrust, leading to difficulty expressing thoughts related to physical disorders and mental problems. This can cause a person to drift away from their partner, and relationship difficulties can end in sexual problems.
Negative emotions make it difficult to focus on physiological needs and can lead to decreased libido. Some partners may misinterpret the situation, paving the way for greater distancing. Sex-related anxiety can also develop into other problems.
Being easily fatigued could be an important characteristic of depression. This low energy level can also lead to low libido and erection difficulties. Women may have problems with lubrication and orgasm. Being forced can lead to more stress and more anxiety.
Depression and other health problems can coexist
Sometimes depression can coexist with other physical conditions that can cause sexual difficulties. Hypothyroidism and low testosterone are among these conditions and should be screened for. Sometimes drugs can also have adverse effects on sexual health. Some antihypertensives and antidepressants are known to have sexual side effects. These issues can be discussed with the health care provider.
Sexual health problems can be cured
It’s important to make sure the partner understands depression and is non-judgmental about it. A problem-solving attitude can help reduce the burden of the depressed patient. Sexual problems related to depression are not permanent; they can be treated with the right approach.
When depression is treated, the resulting sexual problems also heal, so the concept that sexual problems are lifelong or cannot be treated is not true at all. Some antidepressants can make sexual problems worse, but if discussed beforehand, the treating psychiatrist can start taking drugs that do not affect sex life.
Handle with care and empathy
Sexual problems due to depression should be treated with care and empathy. Emotional support and empathy are key roles and can help strengthen the relationship. Sexual health is often kept to last and we don’t really think about it. Frustration over sexual problems can make depression worse and lead to other problems.
It is important to discuss all aspects of life during depression and to talk about them without feeling uncomfortable. Education and self-awareness can help improve the sexual health and quality of life of someone with depression.
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