Men, Depression and Sex
It is an incredibly complex condition which brings with it a whole slew of emotional, mental and physical symptoms with it. For men and women both, part of the problem can revolve around their sexuality – and this in turn can cause problems in a relationship at the time when the depressed person most needs the support. Fortunately, there are ways to help treat this particular problem and restore intimacy and pleasure to a relationship.
Depression and Male Sexuality
It is common for both men and women to experience sexual problems as part of their depression – but the ways in which this presents itself can be different. Healthline notes that in men, depression will often express itself as feelings of low-esteem, anxiety and guilt and this, in turn, can cause problems with erectile dysfunction, delayed orgasm, premature ejaculation or just a loss of interest in sex itself.
There is still a lot we just don’t know about exactly how depression affects the brain. But according to Net Doctor, researchers have learned that the chemical changes which take place when someone has this condition can lead to an increase in emotional withdrawal and low energy levels so that activities like sex, which require a connection to your partner as well as physical energy to perform, can become a challenge. This can be hurtful for the person’s partner and make them feel unwanted or unloved, putting a strain on the relationship that can, in itself, be difficult to deal with.
To make matters worse, many antidepressants are notorious for their side effect of causing sexual dysfunction or loss of interest. Included in this group are MAOI inhibitors, SSRI’s and SSNRI’s and both tetracyclic and tricyclic antidepressants.
What to Do
So the long and short of it is, both depression itself and some of the treatments for depression can both put a damper on a guy’s sex life. So what are some solutions to the problem?
Get the Treatment You Need
Depression is not a choice that people make – and it is usually not a problem that goes away by itself. If you have not yet been diagnosed, talk to your doctor about the symptoms you are having and get started on a plan of care that involves the combination of medications, therapy and lifestyle changes that are right for you.
If you are already being treated for depression and suspect that your anti-depressants might be putting the kybosh on your sex life, find out if you can switch medications. While it might take a little time to take effect, there are some drugs which do not seem to effect one’s libido, including Wellbutrin and Remeron.
Both Healthline and Everyday Health recommend regular exercise – preferably with your partner – as part of a program to help reconnect sexually. First, it gives you and your partner time together doing something enjoyable and this alone can be good for a relationship. It also helps to release feel-good chemicals like endorphins that help fight depression naturally and keeps you in good shape so that you feel good about yourself and the way you look. All this can go a long way to enhancing your sex life.
Take Your Time
According to Everyday Health, sex therapist Dr. Sandra Caron also has a few tips for couples who are struggling to overcome the barrier that depression has placed on their sex lives. She recommends, first of all, that couples engage in more foreplay and other physical expressions of intimacy – hand holding, caressing, massage – before engaging in intercourse itself. Depression tends to slow down all responses, so taking this extra time to achieve arousal can help enhance the pleasure for both partners. She also recommends the use, if needed, of estrogen creams or lubricants and even erotica (like lingerie or sexy movies) to help spark the mood.
Probably the most important advice for men who are trying to reconnect with their partner sexually is to open up and communicate with your partner. This can be more difficult for men to do in general, but is even more of a challenge when it comes to talking about intimate issues like sexuality, desire and arousal. But being honest about how you are feeling and letting your partner know that it is the depression that is a problem and not a loss of interest or a loss of love can be an incredibly powerful way to overcome this challenges and get support from your loved one at a time when you need it the most. Also, partners can be more understanding and supportive if they understand more about what is going on – otherwise, it is easy to interpret a low mood or lack of responsiveness as being hostile or unloving.
In short, depression is a difficult condition with a whole slew of symptoms that go far beyond just feelings of sadness or being blue. And when depression begins to affect a person’s sexuality, this in turn can lead to a strain on intimate partner relationships. However, while there are no quick solutions to this problem, getting on a treatment program that is tailored to someone’s individual needs as well as exercising regularly, spending time with a partner to engage in more foreplay and simply opening up and talking about the problem can all help to reignite the sexual spark in a relationship – and hopefully make the battle against depression that much easier.