Depression and Sexual Functioning

Although circulatory and hormonal issues are important factors in sexual health, emotional issues also play a large role in the quality of sexual functioning. Specifically, depression often contributes to sexual problems and can intensify a dysfunction caused by medical issues.

Depression has long been shown to negatively affect sexual performance. It can reduce sexual drive and blunt sexual interest. Depression can reduce energy levels and make it more difficult to achieve optimal physical and sexual functioning. Becoming sexually aroused is difficult if the individual is feeling depressed. Fully enjoying sex may be impossible under these conditions.

Further complicating the effects of depression is the fact that many of the newer anti-depressants also have profound side effects that can negatively impact sexual abilities. Commonly used anti-depressants such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxal and others can influence sexual abilities in a number of ways. This family of medications, known also as SSRI’s, can reduce sexual interest, decrease the ability to achieve erections, reduce vaginal lubrication, prohibit male ejaculation and diminish the capacity for orgasm in both men and women.

When fatigue and depression are present, a number of considerations may be worthwhile. Although it may limit spontaneity, enjoy sexual activities when you are well rested and refreshed. Many doctors, in fact, believe that sexual activities in the morning can be more satisfying. Nighttime oxygenation of the genitals and nocturnal erections often mean better sexual functioning earlier in the day. Later in the day, try a short nap before making love. If making love in the evening, try having sex before eating a heavy meal or before drinking alcohol. Maximize the effects of Viagra by taking it on an empty stomach when well rested.

Be realistic about your abilities and communicate these to your partner. Even for men, it’s OK not to be in the mood for sex or to realize that you are too tired at the present time. If you are not in the mood for sex don’t try to fake it. Be sensitive, honest and clear about your needs and desires. Communicating these to your partner can reduce performance anxiety and lessen the chance that your sexual encounter will end in disappointment and frustration.

In summary, sexual dysfunction and depression go hand and hand. There is no reason to feel shame or embarrassment if you find yourself depressed. Such feelings are commonplace in today’s society. Untreated, depression however, can be self-defeating and potentially dangerous. Typically, counseling and medications either alone or in combination with one another are the most common and effective treatments of depression. These treatments can significantly improve appetite and sleep, restore energy and ultimately renew sexual interest.

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