Depression can affect every part of your daily life, of course including sex. It limits your sex drive, yet sex can be incredibly beneficial in uplifting your mood and is the most essential part of relationships. Loss of sexual desire and difficulties performing during sexual encounters can be symptoms of depression. Also, low libido can be a side effect due to the medications used to treat depression.
Antidepressants are fundamental to managing depression and also sexuality is one of the necessary aspects of a healthy life and overall well-being. Antidepressants, along with dealing with depression, also come with some side effects associated with libido. The major side effect is lowered libido or sexual desire which can be disappointing and frustrating owing to the restrictions.
Consequences Of Depression
Antidepressants or depression medicines are highly efficacious in relieving the symptoms of depression. A depressed person suffers a loss of interest in sexual intimacy due to lowered libido levels. It robs you of all the fun from the activities that once used to make you feel enthusiastic. Certain antidepressants can also affect your sex drive along with your ability to reach climax. Apart from lowering your libido, antidepressant medications can also cause vaginal dryness in women, and erectile dysfunction in men.
How Depression And Sex Are Interlinked?
Your brain is a highly sensitive sex organ. The desire for sexual intimacy starts in the brain and gradually works its way down with the help of special brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters. These chemicals are responsible for the communication between brain cells and it further sends signals to nerves of the reproductive system for triggering an abundant blood flow to the sex organs. Further, this increased blood flow triggers arousal through an erection or vaginal lubrication.
In the case of depression and other mood disorders, the central nervous system which is in charge of all the activities does not function properly. Due to this malfunction, men and women complain about having low or no sexual desire at all. A person with depression can have sex-related chemical imbalances that dull pleasurable feelings. Thus, that puts a tremendous strain on their intimate relationships.
How Depression Gives Rise To Sexual Dysfunction?
Some sexual challenges that you might face due to the symptoms of depression include the inability to feel or experience pleasure, low energy levels or stamina, disinterest in sexual activities, mood swings, decreased sexual desire, and low self-esteem. Some may also experience erectile dysfunction or delayed ejaculation, and an inability to achieve an orgasm.
How Come Antidepressants Affect Sex?
The most commonly prescribed antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). They can ease the symptoms of moderate to severe depression, are comparatively safe, and cause fewer side effects. It helps improve mood by altering the function of brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are majorly involved in sexual response. Antidepressants affect the nerve pathway that regulates the sexual response and in turn, cause sexual dysfunction. The symptoms of sexual side effects can increase with the increase in the dosage of medication. Some antidepressants that affect serotonin are often utilized for treating premature ejaculation in men.
Try Other Alternatives
In case you have tried making adjustments to your depression medicines however if the sexual side effects persist, you may want to shift your focus to other methods. You can consider psychotherapy, acupuncture, nutritional supplements, or medications to treat your sexual dysfunction if the symptoms you are experiencing are being caused by depression.
You may incorporate some additional strategies for lifestyle changes that can help you better manage your depression along with sexual side effects, they may include:
Pump Up Your Heart Rate
According to research, 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity can be advantageous in boosting your sex drive and managing depression. Apart from improving your physical health, exercising can also enhance your emotional health and your libido. Regular physical activity gets your body moving, increases blood flow, and releases some mood-enhancing chemicals that ensure your overall health.
Some aerobic exercises such as cycling, boxing, running, and skipping can also play a huge part in improving sexual dysfunction and increasing libido. It also improves blood pressure by boosting the generation of nitric oxide in blood vessels. Adding some anaerobic exercises to your daily exercising routine can enhance the natural production of testosterone which is a substantial factor in libido.
While eating certain foods may not ease your symptoms but put you instantly in a better mood, a healthy diet may help as part of your overall treatment. You can include foods that are rich in antioxidants such as leafy green vegetables like spinach and broccoli, and fruits that are rich sources of vitamin C including, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, kiwi, and grapefruit. Include lots of nuts and seeds in your diet.
To clear your mind and boost your energy you must include foods like turkey, tuna, and chicken that have amino acids, which may help your body make serotonin. Good sources of healthy proteins include beans and peas, lean beef, low-fat cheese, fish, milk, poultry, soy products, and yogurt.
Avoid The Usage Of Recreational Drugs
Various stimulants such as cocaine, depressants such as alcohol, painkillers, and hallucinogens are known for exhibiting psychoactive properties. These mind-altering substances as they affect the mood and state of mind of anyone using them.
In addition, these substances can slow down the normal functioning of the central nervous system. Their effect can be particularly heightened for people who have depression or experience mood swings, and depression and anxiety can be made worse by consuming large quantities of alcohol.
The use and abuse of these substances can counteract the benefits of antidepressant medications and hence, it is unsafe to take the two together.
Get Intimate Often
Exchanging intimate moments together can boost your mental health no matter the form in which you engage. Sex decreases the cortisol levels in the body, releases stress, and makes you feel calm and relaxed. According to research, physical intimacy with your partner leads to less stress and helps you maintain a positive mood throughout the day. During Sexual intimacy, the body release feel-good hormones like dopamine or serotonin and chemicals that temporarily reduce depression symptoms.
Talk To Your Doctor
For some people experiencing low libido when taking antidepressant medications, switching to a different option may be beneficial. Certain types of antidepressants may be less likely to have sexual side effects. In such a case, you may need to consult your doctor that can help you to resolve your issues. They may also recommend drugs that are specifically designed to relieve sexual dysfunction.
You need to inculcate some lifestyle changes by embracing a nutritious diet, and exercise routine, and refraining from some bad choices that add to your condition. Talk openly with your partner as can give you emotional support and strength in this difficult situation. Seek help from your doctor such that they can provide you with a remedial solution to manage both depression and low libido.