Anxiety · Depression · Informative · Opt Ed · Student · UOIT Mental Health Services

Depression, Anxiety and Sex

Please be respectful and refrain from judgement if you continue to read this post.

Some people think that depression and anxiety only affect one’s emotions, but this is not true. It is an illness that causes a lot more problems than just “being sad”. Besides the crippling pain and the inability to function at times, it is quite a mood killer sexually. Now I can’t speak for everyone but I can speak for myself, and I think it is important for people to understand- so here it goes, a story about my sex life… or lack thereof.

I guess I started to notice it when I was with my ex-boyfriend at a time where my depression seemed to become worse (harsher psychological pain-causing physical pain, not getting out of bed, etc.), but I never linked it to that. I just thought that maybe I wasn’t attracted to him anymore, which may not have been completely untrue, but it wasn’t the problem. I know he was not the problem because we are no longer together, in fact, I have been in a new relationship for over two years, and I still feel a lack of interest in sex. Of course, this was troubling to me- I mean especially in a society where sex dominates and influences most of the world, I had to wonder why it made me feel strange, almost uncomfortable to talk about or engage in sex. I started looking into it, and it turns out that this situation is very common for those who struggle with depression.

The most important thing is to remember to treat your depression. First, your mental health is more important than sex. Communication is key; you don’t want your partner (or potential partners) to feel as if you are not attracted to them, but you cannot be sexually involved just for their sake either. Talk to them about it and if your partner loves you, they will understand and will help you in your recovery/healing process. If they are pushy and try to pressure you then tell them to hit the curb, they are not worth it by a long shot. Not only is it a good idea to talk to your partner but your doctor too, they may be able to help suggest ways to increase your sex drive; they can also eliminate/rule out any other potential causes of low sex drive to make sure your depression is the actual cause.

I think another important point to bring up is that after not being intimate for so long it can start to increase anxiety when you do become intimate- thoughts start to fill your head; am I doing this right? Are they enjoying this? Am I boring them? And while it might be scary these feelings will only become a vicious cycle if you don’t talk to your significant other about them. In my personal experience this is a stage I am still currently in as it is a touchy subject and for someone who is as emotional as I am, I find it difficult to bring this subject up. This is the first time I’ve ever shared these feelings with anyone which may not be the best scenario, but I’ll think of this as my warm up for the real deal. But nevertheless don’t follow my example- learn from it; it is not healthy to keep these feelings bottled up, and they need to be expressed.

I didn’t write this post just because I thought it may be useful to those who may share the same feelings as me- it was also written for those who may be involved with someone struggling with depression. Be kind to them and respect the fact that sometimes they don’t have the motivation or confidence to start their day let alone engage in something so intimate and exposing. And when they do feel ready to be intimate be encouraging but not in a way that is going to make them feel awkward or embarrassed. It is so important to remember that they don’t want to be in this situation anymore than you want them to be. Even if you are not sexually active now or are not experiencing this kind of situation now, it could happen, and the worst thing to do is ignore it.

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22 thoughts on “Depression, Anxiety and Sex

  1. Thank you for this post. I will share it with my girlfriend and hope that she will be able to understand that my lowered interest in sex has little to do with her being “unattractive” or me not loving her anymore. Thank you a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad that you found it useful! 🙂 & I hope moving forward the two of you become stronger with her knowing how you feel

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  2. Thank you for this post. For years I have been doing my best to manage my depression with medication and therapy. Still some of my days get worse than others. During those dark days everything seems like a chore, even sex. My girlfriend, although she is very understanding, has difficulties coping when those days extend to many in a row or into weeks. No matter what I do, I cannot bring myself to have sex with her. I have no desire, no interest, and in moments where I force myself to do it for her, I hate it. I can’t get aroused, have an orgasm, my body doesn’t respond to stimulation. Furthermore, during these days it is really difficult to feel desirable. I feel ugly, both inside and out. To be intimate and close to someone else, I need to feel a certain level of love and acceptance for myself which is clearly missing. During the better days, I get preoccupied with the idea that I fail again , like so many times before, and it paralyzes me to the point where I am unable to become aroused.
    Thank you for starting this discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your story- it reminded me a lot of my own situation. Im glad to hear your gf is mostly supportive- as upsetting as it can be that she doesn’t get it 100% just as my bf doesn’t get it 100%, we have to try and understand where they are coming from too. Anyways im really glad that you found this post useful. I wish you the best of luck in your relationship and your healing process 🙂

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    1. I completely understand how you feel! Its tough when your partner doesnt understand and its the worst feeling in the world. I hope you two can overcome it; but remember that no relationship is worth making you feel bad about your depression!

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  3. Hi, I wanted to discuss it for a while as it really needs to be tackled and challenged. I had a good sex life before meds and now, after meds its gone!! Most SSRI’s cause anorgasmia. Which really isn’t much fun. I believe there is no reason why i should still have no urge after being on anti-depressants, other than side effects. I’m glad we are discussing it here.
    Thanks
    Ashley

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment Ashley! I myself find the lack of sexual interest even without taking medication but its nice to hear an opinion from someone who does, I really appreciate your comment 🙂

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    2. Ashley, loss of interest in pleasurable activities such as sex is one symptom of depression. Your antidepressant should at least help with it and certainly not result in a further loss of interest in sex. You should discuss it with your Dr, not a family Dr, but a specialist.

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      1. ^^ thats actually not true. Antidepressants can actually affect sexual experiences as well.
        And to be honest I do not appreciate the way you worded your comment. Everyone who goes through depression goes through it a different way and experiences different things regardless of the similar symptoms that occur in most people. Drugs also do not work the same way in people so why would all antidepressants work the same for everyone?

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        1. I would argue that I did not say that antidepressants can’t affect sexual experiences. For that matter I agree that they can. I argue though that they shouldn’t. While I accept yor point that we all experience depression differently and that we all respond differently to antidepressants, I also believe that we should be informed patients and consult specialists to find meds and dosages which work best for us. I’ve been on various antidepressants for 5 years. It’d not be fair to assume that the same medication which was prescribed to the 90 lb 16 year old me would still work for the current me at 21 , 175 lb and a in a different developmental place. I changed my meds many times. Once I noticed that my libido got affected, I spoke to my psychiatrist. I don’t mean to sound chauvinistic, but sexual performance is extremely important to a 18-19 year old male. It is a crucial form of validation. We corrected my antidepressants over and over until we found a combination that did not have adverse affects on my sexual experiences. That is what I suggested to Ashley, I know that it works as I DID IT MYSELF. I am not sure which part of my comment you found offensive (“I do not appreciate the way you worded your comment”) and why.

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    1. Thats such a great point to bring up! while i do agree that can happen as sex releases endorphins which tend to relieve pain the problem is getting into the mind set to want to even have sex. If one doesnt feel attractive and can not become aroused, it doesnt matter what sex can potentially do for them. That’s my opinion anyways!

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      1. Here is some. They seem somewhat male- centric, postulating that semen is good for female depression. I read these researchers work in my classes on other subjects though. They are serious and well known scientists.

        Bering, J. “An Ode to the Many Evolved Virtues of Human Semen,” Scientific American, Sept. 22, 2010.

        Gallup, G. G., Jr., Burch, R. L., & Platek, S. M. (2002). Does Semen Have Antidepressant Properties? Archives of Sexual Behaviour.

        Brody, S. (2010). The Relative Health Benefits of Different Sexual Activities. The Journal of Sexual Medicine

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  4. I am loving the amount of responses this post is getting! I feel like people are really connecting which is exactly what i wanted.
    I know this is a long shot and I’m not even sure that anyone who commented above will see this comment but if anyone ever wants to chat about this (whether it be personal or for awareness/educational purposes, you can contact me at daniellegoudreau@live.com. Now clearly this is my personal email so please be respectful and do not send anything negative or jokes as this topic is serious. Don’t be afraid to shoot me an email, i promise to keep everything confidential.

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  5. Thank you so so so much! My partner and I both have mental health issues and we have had this form of conversations before because we both recognized that this would be a problem for us in our relationship and it has made us understand eachother more and respect each other’s boundaries. So thank you for this.

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    1. I am so happy to hear that you and your partner are able to talk about your anxieties and work through them in order to become stronger 🙂 it is truly inspiring to hear this worked so well for you so thank you for sharing!

      Like

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