Depression can impact every aspect of an individual’s life, including sex. Low self-esteem, lack of confidence, feelings of hopelessness, and feelings of fatigue can all lower libido which can lead to other sexual issues such as anorgasmia (trouble reaching orgasm).
Depression can affect libido due to biology. Chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters communicate between the brain, where sexual desire begins, and the sex organs. When the brain senses sexual desire, it causes the body to respond by increasing blood flow to the sex organs, which triggers arousal. In an individual with depression, these sex-related chemicals are out of balance and can result in low or nonexistent desire and pleasurable feelings.
Sometimes lifestyle changes alone can help to diminish sexual issues due to depression. These include:
- Avoiding drugs, tobacco, and alcohol, which can impact sexual function
- Exercising and eating a healthy diet to maintain a healthy body weight
- Speaking honestly and openly with partners regarding mental and physical health
- Working with healthcare providers to choose medications with few side effects
Depression is often treated with antidepressants, but certain antidepressants may actually make sexual dysfunction worse. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in particular are known to negatively affect desire, arousal, and orgasm. Before beginning an antidepressant, patients should speak with their healthcare provider to discuss possible sexual side effects.
Because depression is a common symptom of menopause, it is important that patients discuss menopausal symptoms when seeking treatment for depression. Often hormone replacement therapy can obviate the need for antidepressant medications.
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When depression is associated with other menopausal symptoms, many women will find that restoring deficient hormones leads to improved mood and restoration of a healthy libido. At Tideline Center for Health & Aesthetics, our team will create a personalized treatment plan for an improved quality of life. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation appointment.