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All of us have our down days. But it is worse for the people like us, who have a chronic illness, precisely, depression. Depression can largely affect all aspects of your life, including your eating habits, sleeping patterns, digestion, self-esteem and even your sex drive. Depression and sex are the two zones you do not want interlinked.
This week on #NotSoShy, I will share how years of depression (Major Depressive Disorder) stirred my sex life. This is my learning.
The Sad Link Between Depression And Sex
The overwhelming part of being depressed is that the whole bulk of sad falls on you. The consistent emotional garbage hits your libido pretty hard. Before understanding the connection between the two, one has to know the difference between being depressed and being sad.
Depression Vs Sadness
|Depression is a clinical mental illness that may or may not translate itself into a disorder of kind. Feeling sad is merely an emotion that is felt during life.||Persistent sadness is a symptom of depression.|
|Depression can have physical manifestations like fever, loss of appetite, headaches and tremors.||Sadness is felt during a time of distress and can be relieved through crying, venting, among other things.|
Each one of us has busy lives, deadlines to meet, frustrating traffic jams to cross, meetings to attend, and whatnot. If at the end of the day, you get to spend some intimate time with your significant other, all the stress can go away. Sadly, it is not the case with someone who has depression.
The brain is the most sensitive sex organ, whether you believe it or not. Our brains process arousal and respond accordingly. But in case you are depressed, your brain does not put that much effort. Here’s how.
Depression and Sex Desire
A human brain has special chemicals to comprehend sexual arousal. These chemicals are known as neurotransmitters. These chemicals in your brain work towards increasing the flow of blood towards your sex organs, during the time of sexual arousal. And that is how your brain turns you on.
But in depression, the brain cells responsible for managing neurotransmitters, do not function properly. And so your libido drops down.
Two years back when I was diagnosed with MDD and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), I only thought that not being able to feel anything besides sadness is my fault. My relationship with my partner suffered hugely only because I did not understand the connection between depression and sex life. And possibly because, we as Indians, do not regard the functioning of a brain with sexual desire (except labelling ourselves as sapiosexuals).
If you and your partner are facing similar issues behind closed doors, depression could be one cause. A loss of interest may indicate something deeper – depression or other mood disorders.
Sexual Problems and Depression
Getting in the mood would prove to be difficult when you are suffering. You cannot expect yourself to be excited when you have a fever. Similarly, depression can hinder the sex drive. But like me, many people would not know what is happening. Here are some problems you may experience, in the above case:
- You cannot enjoy sex
- You have erectile dysfunction (in men)
- Your sexual desire has gone significantly down
- You cannot reach an orgasm
Drugs for Depression and Sex
Now you know what happens when you have depression. If you introspect your sex life, you will know that this mental illness has made its way into it, as well.
So far, we learned that our brain is the first organ that receives messages of sexual arousal. And it is clear that when the brain has not been well, your sex life will have to bear the consequences. But that is not all.
Picture this: You have been diagnosed with liver disease. Sex is the last thing that comes to your mind. What you do, foremost, is to go to a verified doctor and treat the disease. So similarly, when you have depression, try to treat it first.
But here is the twist: Depression is chronic, which means, it does not go away in a few weeks. It may take months or years (as in my case) to show signs of relief. By the time you are getting treated for depression, you do not have to completely pause your sex life. The answer is medical management.
You should aim to treat the depression first. Your doctor will prescribe certain anti-depressants to help you cope with all the symptoms. These medicines help to fix the chemistry of the brain. While these drugs are effective in uplifting the mood of a person, they also have several side effects. One includes a much-lowered sex drive.
Antidepressants affect the brain nerves that are responsible for inciting sexual desire.
What is the Solution?
So you know that even anti-depressants do not help in increasing libido. Sad news. But there are still measures you can take to have a pleasant sex life, despite depression.
Here are some tried and tested ways of dealing with the fallout of depression and sex:
When you have the slightest of mood, have sex
Having more sex can drastically increase your libido.
Talk to your partner
Your partner may not understand your loss of interest. They may mistake your inability to be intimate with infidelity. So before anything goes wrong, have a chat with your partner. Tell them about all the information above and give them a reasonable answer. Talking thoroughly about such sensitive issues may also bring you closer and help you bond better.
Go for therapy
While treating clinical depression, your doctor would most likely suggest you have CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) or other forms of therapy, depending upon your condition. These therapy sessions are based on dismantling the negative thought processes in your brain. These discussions along with the right medication will help you.
Well, your depression and sex life are thoroughly intertwined. So to treat one, you will have to treat the other. But please note that you should never leave the treatment for depression for the sake of your sex life. This decision, if taken, may backfire.
If you are interested in learning more about sexual and reproductive health, follow our series #NotSoShy.