Depression can affect your sex life.. how can you handle it?
When I hear and read the word depression, I become anxious and overwhelmed because of all the weight that it carries. Those of you that experience depression know that it comes in many shapes and forms. The symptoms that are experienced can affect how you feel, think, and tackle everyday life. This experience can be incredibly overwhelming and can influence your sex life. My hope is that this blog can give you a sense of validation for what you may be experiencing, share with you what may be happening and why, and some tips on how to address it. And most importantly that you are not alone, even though it may feel like it.
Why & What is Happening
Our brains have all the power, and that includes your sex life! All the desire that you feel to have sex literally lives in the brain. So, when something like depression is disrupting the brain chemicals that stimulate your sexual desire and blood flow that is needed for sex, it can then make all the sex things a bit more difficult.
So, what does this look like? Depression has the (very frustrating) power to lower your ability to experience pleasure, happiness, and joy, which may then lead to a lowered sexual desire. Some of the other symptoms that are a result of depression include (and are not limited to) stress, anxiety, lower mood, and lowered self-worth/self-esteem. When these are experienced, our bodies may not react the way we want them too. All the symptoms listed above could correlate to why you are experiencing challenges in your sex life. You may have decreased desire or no desire at all, feeling like you don’t enjoy sex, inability to achieve orgasm, less natural lubrication, and for men erectile dysfunction or delayed ejaculation.
Now that we have gotten all of that out there, below are some ways to help with what you may be experiencing.
First and foremost, depression does not look and feel the same for everyone. Some people may seem happy on the outside and are facing an entirely different reality on the inside. With that said, communicating your experience with your partner is important. This can be incredibly challenging for the person who is experiencing depression and for the partner. As much as we may think we know our partner, we are not mind readers (this would make life a lot easier though)!
Being clear and honest with your partner about your experience will give them the opportunity to empathize and validate your experience. The moments of shame and guilt you may feel because you are “not in the mood” will have the opportunity to lessen if your partner understands what is happening for you behind your smile.
In my experience when people read the word mindfulness it can be easy to jump to meditation. I want you to know that mindfulness also looks different for everyone! The main goal of mindfulness is to allow yourself to become aware of what is happening for you physically and emotionally. This takes practice!
Allow yourself the space to accept your experience without judgement and give yourself some compassion. Maybe it’s when you are feeling frustrated because you do not have the desire to have sex, being mindful and non-judgmental with that feeling can help you in setting it aside.
Creating your Team
If you are taking medications to help with your depression, make sure to check in with your doctor. Many of the medications that are used to help cope with depression may have sexual side effects, advocating for yourself and what you are experiencing with your doctor is important.
With that said, you might feel like you don’t want to walk across the room none to less go to the doctor’s office-that’s when using your support system comes into play. Remember the communication piece of this blog? There are people that love you and that can help you in navigating your experience.
Where to go from here
Depression has a different face for everyone that experiences it. If you feel like you are struggling with depression and do not know where to start, please reach out to us. If you are noticing that your experience with depression is having an impact on your sex life, we are here for you. Remember, you are not alone on this journey.