Defining good sex isn’t easy. Generally speaking, it’s an experience where both parties involved orgasm, or climax. If you’ve had this experience before then you know first hand that good sex is fun, and it can also be helpful in boosting mood and managing depression. People who engage in good, consensual sex, are known to have a better quality of life and higher life satisfaction in general. Sex can also help to build a stronger relationship.
Depression can of course interfere and be a factor in bad sex, but it is a two-way street, and depression is also impacted by intercourse. It’s a complex equation that that can have both positive results, yet devastating results. Addressing sex in a comfortable, open way, is beneficial to all involved and is the best way to seek benefit from this intimate activity.
One symptom of bad sex is performance.
Part of that two-way street is erectile dysfunction. Depression can make performance suffer greatly, but not being able to engage in intercourse can worsen depression as well. The statistics show it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. 35 to 47 percent of people with depression, also have challenges in their sex life, with 61 percent of those with severe depression suffering in the bedroom.
When antidepressants are involved, 40 percent of patients report a decline in sexual satisfaction. A study also showed that 82 percent of men with erectile dysfunction also reported symptoms of depression. One condition does not necessarily mean they are caused by one another, or that both must come hand in hand, but the correlation is strong, and should be taken seriously.
Like all bodily functions, chemicals in the brain signal blood flow for an erection. Without the proper execution, erectile dysfunction arises. Depression can affect chemical signals in the brain, meaning drive and satisfaction are also impacted- not just physical performance. Erectile dysfunction on its own is fairly common, with half of men over 50 experiencing it.
Is depression affecting your performance or vice-versa?
With so many variables, how can you tell if depression is part of the issue? The warning signs include a loss in sexual desire or pleasure, being prescribed and taking an antidepressant, a stressful event triggering dysfunction, and associating negative feelings with sexual performance. Erectile dysfunction could also be simply aging or stress, but it is important to consider all possible causes as one may not realize they have depression right away, especially in times of stress when it is possible to rationalize feelings.
The issue comes when the assumption is made that erectile dysfunction is merely part of aging. Medical causes of depression and erectile dysfunction can be addressed, but it is impossible to get help without asking for it. Overcoming any embarrassment is the first step. Not being able to perform in the bedroom can make someone think less of themselves or that they are disappointing their partner.
Openly communicating with any partner is essential in gaining support and understanding. Erectile dysfunction is not just the problem of the person with it, but also of their partner. Bringing them along to the doctor, adopting a positive approach, considering therapy together, and preventing habits like excessive drinking that can worsen erectile dysfunction are some ways to manage it together.
What treatments are available?
One of the treatment options for depression is taking antidepressant medication. It is often the next step after therapy, or even the first depending your individual situation. For many patients, it works and they find relief. They may not even need to take medication forever, as some people enter remission.
Nonetheless, the side effects of many antidepressants can make sex more of a chore than pleasure. It is important to weigh the value of sexual performance against a certain medication, as not all have the same side effects. It is important to try what a doctor suggests, but to always speak up and present issues and concerns. Not every doctor will have the same beliefs or experience, and self-advocacy is often what allows patients to finally find treatment that works.
When the symptoms of depression present themselves, it is important to address them no matter their severity. Medication is one choice, but there are other options that can help and that will not affect sex. Many do not realize that depression is far more than being sad, which is a normal human experience from time to time. When that interferes with function, it is concerning. Other symptoms to look out for include anger and irritability, sleep problems that go to either extreme, fatigue and lack of energy, and anxiety. Physical problems are common with mental disorders, like stomachaches and headaches. It is easy to see how these can affect a sex life.
Benefits of better sex.
If you’re sexual active, despite any side effects or conditions, the benefits of frequent intercourse are extensive. Medication and therapy can get a patient to the point where they are able to engage and enjoy sex, which can then truly help. Studies have shown that frequent touching and affection leads to a feeling of general happiness within a relationship and with life.
Feelings of affection last beyond the act as well. Sex can also increase bonding between partners. Setting realistic but positive expectations and communicating in the bedroom can help boost the benefits when depression is also involved. Orgasm does not have to be reached every time, nor does the sex have to be fantastic to be enjoyable. Exercise has been shown to help depression, but also to boost libido, making it a two-birds-one-stone situation that also benefits your health and confidence. Longer foreplay and lingerie are also ways to boost interest.
The most important thing to remember during any sexual activity, especially when emotions are weighted, is consent.
Freely given, enthusiastic consent is required. “No” of course means no, but so does not replying, saying “not right now”, or implying that the contact is not wanted in any way. Consent is required from all parties involved, no matter their gender or the activity at hand. Even married couples must seek consent and avoid assumption, especially if one partner is depressed.
Don’t force yourself to enjoy sex.
Depression may cause a person to feel obliged, or that they are disappointing their partner if they do not engage. It may also tempt a partner to take advantage of this, which is abusive even with an established relationship. Sex should be good, and it can really help with depression, but it has to be done in a fair and consensual way that allows all parties to be comfortable and expressive.
Like many medical conditions and illnesses, depression varies in how it affects those who suffer from it. Some may feel consistently blue, whilst others can experience anxiety and deep episodes of severe sadness. Sex is an emotional thing, and depression can affect the ability to perform in different ways.
A symptom of depression itself and also a side effect of the drugs used to treat it, erectile dysfunction is a common bedroom ailment. Remembering that it is a couple’s or partners’ issue and not just one of the sufferer can help. If sex is an option, it can even be used to address depression.
A boost in feel-good hormones, bonding, and confidence can compliment treatment and may even be enough to stay off of medications if that is decided appropriate. Depression is a battle many fight, and there is never shame in seeking help for however if affects life and wellbeing.