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Depression is no more a foreign concept to us. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression has become one of the most common mental health conditions diagnosed in today's society. It is not just the mere feeling of being hopeless or the lack of motivation; depression can impact each and every aspect of your daily life. Yes, it can! And one of the most inimical impacts the mental condition has is on your sex life.
The Relation Between Depression And Sex Life
Every individual comes across a day when they are tired, stressed, or lack the motivation to carry out even the simplest of tasks. And is common during these times to have a low sex drive. However, an individual suffering from depression goes through this on a daily basis - this is their everyday life!
Chronic depression can impact your life in various ways, including your sex life  . Depression can hinder with your sex drive and curb your libido. An individual's sexual desire is developed in the brain and then works its way down with the aid of the neurotransmitters. The chemicals, that is, the neurotransmitters elevates the communication between the brain cells by improving the blood flow to the sex organs. Thereby, increasing your libido and paving way for an energetic sex life.
Depression causes you to be in a rut, for a long and continuous period of time. It can have a profound impact on your sexual relationships, hampering your ability to feel emotionally secure with your partner, robbing you off of the desire to feel connected and enjoy the connection between you and your partner  .
The sadness, hopelessness, discouragement, and lack of motivation caused by the mental condition can push you into a dark hole where emotions visit rarely. The physical manifestations caused by the mental condition can stunt your ability to enjoy your partner's love and affection. Scientifically speaking, the neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which play the central role in mood regulation and libido are hindered with the onset of depression   .
Impact Of Depression On Sex Life
An individual suffering from depression does not possess well-functioning neurotransmitters, which causes the circuits that communicate using these chemicals to not function properly. Some of the negative impacts depression can have on your sex life are as follows   :
- Lack of energy: This is one of the most common indicators of depression. A depressed individual often tends to sleep too little, which paves way for the development of fatigue. As the person does not get the required amount of rest, the fatigue can rob them off of their sexual energy. The tiredness not only impacts your body but also your mind, thereby declining your sexual functioning and energy.
- Lack of pleasure: It is impossible for a depressed individual to find pleasure in anything, even things that they once found interesting. This can cause them to withdraw from having a sex life.
- Emotional sensitivity: For a depressed individual, having trouble in their sexual relationship can cause them to view it as their fault and inadequacies. This can result in them avoiding sex further.
- Difficulty in bonding: As individuals suffering from depression do not feel that they deserve to be loved or cared about, emotionally and sexually bonding with their partner can be difficult. This may cause a fall out between the person and their partner as the partner can also feel unloved, as their affection is not reciprocated.
Impact Of Antidepressants On Sex Life
One of the other major impacts of depression on sex life is the effect of antidepressants  . Antidepressants are helpful for a person suffering from depression as they help in improving the individual's mood as well as a sense of self-worth. As antidepressants are the optimal solution for the symptoms of the mental condition, about 1 in 9 individuals are reported as taking it. However, the pills that treat your lack of self-motivation is a major cause of your lack of sexual desire.
The major antidepressants such as sertraline, fluoxetine, paroxetine, and citalopram are called the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These improve the mood and emotional state of an individual suffering from depression by improving or altering the function of the neurotransmitters, the same ones that are involved in the sexual response. The increase in the neurotransmitter such as serotonin can inhibit your libido and also makes it difficult for the individual to have an orgasm   .
The antidepressants affect the nerve pathways which regulate one's sexual response, therefore leading towards sexual dysfunction. Likewise, with an increase in the dosage of the antidepressants, the sexual side effects can also increase. The antidepressants cause the inability to initiate or enjoy sex, erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation in men, decreased sexual desire and inability to achieve an orgasm   .
Gender-Based Impact Of Depression On Sex Life
According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, problems in sex life due to depression are experienced by both men and women. Both the sexes can experience difficulty in initiating as well as enjoying sex due to their mental condition. However, there are some differences in the way both the sexes experience the trouble  .
In the case of women, it has been reported that depression is linked to hormonal changes. Therefore, a woman's risk of developing depression can increase before and during menstruation, after childbirth, the constant balancing between work, home and family life and also during perimenopause and menopause   .
Studies reveal that women tend to develop a 'bluesy' feeling which is persistent and making them feel less worthy and confident. These can have a drastic effect on one's sex life. Also, with age, the physical factors accorded to it can make sex less enjoyable and even painful. Likewise, the changes that occur to the sexual organs such as the vagina and its walls can make the activity unpleasant. The lower levels of oestrogen also contribute to it. All these can make the women feel depressed, thereby hindering a healthy sex life.
In the case of men, anxiety, guilt and low self-esteem are the causes of erectile dysfunction. Reports reveal that men tend to lose interest in carrying out any activities if they are depressed. The antidepressants, when it comes to men, are directly linked to impotence, delayed orgasm and premature ejaculation. All these tend to contribute towards causing troubles in their sex life  .
Ways To Improve Your Libido During Depression
Depression severely affects your sex life, yes, that is true! However, it is not necessary that you have to accept the difficulties and limitations it poses in your life, especially your sex life. Depression causes your body to shut down and be distant from any form of emotional or physical closure and satisfaction. But, even if you are diagnosed with depressive disorder, you can help yourself in improving and maintaining your sex drive   .
- Get help: The first and foremost factor to be taken care of is to get help for the depression. The most effective steps adopted in dealing with the depression are through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and a combination of antidepressants. In comparison to the medication, the therapy does not pose any physical side effects. CBT helps individual suffering from depression by helping them recognise the trail of unhealthy and destructive thought patterns. As mentioned earlier, the antidepressants can hinder with your sex life, however, along with the therapy this can be managed, asserts doctors.
- Exercise: This is a great step towards improving your physical stamina as well as your overall mood. Try to go for walks with your partner every day, you can go for walks by yourself too. Walking helps the release of endorphins in the brain, the happy chemicals that can help improve your mood on a positive note. Also, studies have revealed that exercise is as good as any antidepressants to treat depression.
- Eat fruits: Depression can cause to have very low appetite and even no appetite. However, make sure that you eat five pieces of fruits every day. Studies on depression have pointed out that having fruits while you are mentally and physically down can help improve your state  .
- Be positive: This psychological move plays a critical role in improving your mental state, which directly impacts your physical well-being. Doctors point out that they advise individuals to have faith and be mindful. They are made to understand the fact that the depression will pass with time and they will be able to get back into their usual selves. This method can cause the person to think positively, thereby contributing to their own improvement.
- Cuddle: Doctors assert that, if your depression is causing you to develop an aversion towards physical as well as emotional intimacy, one of the most effective ways to help yourself and your partner is through non-sexual physical contact such as cuddling. The closeness helps in maintaining your relationship and eventually improves your sex drive and allows you to retrieve your sex life into its previous state  .
- Avoid comparison: It is advised not to compare your sex life with others while facing trouble due to depression. There is no "right amount" of sex, as every relationship and the physical intimacy varies. Discussing your problem with others so as to compare can cause you to feel further depressed.
- Redefine intimacy: As aforementioned, it is not necessary that you must have sex to maintain or improve your sex life while having depression. Simple actions such as holding hands, snuggling or laughing together help in improving yourself, as these help in re-establishing the physical intimacy between you and your partner.
- Listen to music: As simple as it may seem, this is a great way to improve your libido while you are feeling completely low. Doctors assert that listening to music that matters to you as well as your partner can help improve your sex life.
Helping Your Depressed Partner
If your partner is the one who is suffering from the depressive state, you have to be equally invested in their recovery. As it is a mental illness, the need to have support from loved ones is highly critical. If your partner's depression is causing difficulties in your sex life you have to consider the below-mentioned factors   .
- Be patient: It is critical that you be understanding towards your partner. Rather than forcing them to get better through various measures, you have to be helpful towards their needs. Avoid saying that you "understand" their condition, as that may not sit well with the majority of the individuals, studies reveal.
- Do not take it personally: It is important that you realise that the trouble in your sex life is not personal but entirely linked to the illness. People with depression lose their sexual libido, making it impossible for them to feel the same way as you do.
- Be positive: Do not lose faith in your relationship, as there will be days when your love and affection towards your partner may not help improve their state of being. Your depressed partner will require you unaltered love and care, even though it may not be reciprocated.
- Get help: Encourage your partner to get help, as they may seem withdrawn to think about that themselves. Instead of antidepressants, encourage them to take up CBT or visiting a sex therapist. Visiting a sex therapist will help clear any misunderstandings and doubts about the hindrance in your sex life due to depression. It will also help in improving your partner's confidence, and help them figure it out by themselves.
- Exercise: Walking is one of the best remedies. Take your partner along with you while going out to exercise. Exercising together can help improve their spirits, as well as improve your connection. Dancing with your partner is also a good way to get rid of the gloom.
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