Currently, there are over 264 million people worldwide suffering from depression. It’s a very common mental health condition that can make it hard to carry out everyday life activities.
There are various causes of depression; loss of libido is just one of them. You may also have a family history, hormone fluctuations, or early childhood trauma that led to it.
Likewise, you can experience many symptoms of depression, and one common issue is with sexual health. If you’ve lost your sex drive, you may feel like the world has ended because you no longer enjoy sex.
Though major depression can lead to various sexual side effects, there is hope. Let’s focus on the relationship between libido and depression.
What’s Depression (Major Depressive Disorder?)
Depression is a common term for major depressive disorder, which is a mental health condition that affects many people. It causes a person to lose enjoyment in everyday life, and they often experience a depressed mood.
While feeling a low mood every so often is a natural part of being a human, depression lasts for longer periods.
Some symptoms of depression can include:
- Feeling sad, hopeless, or empty
- Feeling restless, angry, irritable, anxious, or aggressive
- Having sexual performance issues or a lowered sexual desire
- Losing interest in things you once enjoyed doing
- Changes to your sleep patterns
- Thoughts of suicide (not often experienced in moderate depression and more in severe depression)
- Changes to sleep patterns
- Using drugs
- Feeling tired more easily
- Engaging in high-risk activities
- Drinking excessively
- Having delayed responses in your conversations
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Experiencing headaches, pain, digestive problems, or fatigue
- Having difficulty when completing tasks
- Decreased energy and decreased libido
- Weight changes
Does depression decrease libido? Yes! A common symptom is having a low sex drive. People may not have the energy to interact with others sexually. They may also stop enjoying sex like they used to because depression makes people lose interest in activities they liked previously.
Sometimes, a non-existent sex drive can also contribute to your feeling depressed. The relationship between sex drive and depression could work both ways.
Libido is another word for sexual desire, and it describes the person’s enjoyment of sexual activity. There’s no real measurement for it, but it’s often referred to as being high or low. In fact, a person’s sex life can change throughout the years and might even be paired with a low self-esteem.
Causes of Low Sexual Desire
Everyone with a low libido will not have depression. However, many people who have depression will experience a low libido. I tackle this further on this page: What is Libido?
Other things that can cause a loss of sex drive or a depressed libido might include:
- Prescription medication (such as antidepressants)
- Relationship issues (trust problems, poor communication, unresolved conflicts, and a lack of connection)
- Low testosterone
- Alcohol or drug use
- Underlying health conditions
- Previous negative sexual experiences
- History of physical or sexual abuse
- Poor body image (low self-esteem)
- Hormone changes
- Sexual problems (such as sexual dysfunction)
- Fatigue or exhaustion from surgery, illness, or caring for aging parents and young children)
Low Sex Drive, Depression Symptoms, and Antidepressants
One common complaint about antidepressants is that they create sexual side effects.
Antidepressants are often linked to sexual side effects. However, some medications will more likely create sexual problems than other prescription medications.
Some of those antidepressants that can have sexual side effects include:
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Paroxetine (Paxil CR/Paxil)
Bupropion (Wellbutrin) and Mirtazapine (Remeron) are also known to have a risk of sexual side effects. However, the risk factors for those are much less.
Many antidepressants are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The drugs increase the serotonin levels within the body by helping it produce less anxiety and a higher feeling of calm. However, those feelings can lower a person’s sex drive. Those hormones that help you experience pleasure from sex (sexual desire) are prevented from getting the message to the brain.
If you are looking to enhance your libido by supplementation, here is my list of the top male enhancement supplements.
Some People Experience Better Sexual Function When Depressed
While most people experience a lower sexual desire because of depression, some have more. In those cases, it’s the only outlet for pleasure, and that can be the body’s only coping mechanism when anxiety rears its ugly head. Likewise, orgasms can relieve stress and help you sleep more.
Therefore, there’s a correlation between horniness and depression. Even though you might want sex more often, it can still be a sexual dysfunction because you’re not taking care of the root problem.
Research Surrounding Sex and Mental Health
Many studies have been done on the relationship between depression and low libido.
One primary takeaway is that the condition is highly common. In fact, a study found that about 40 percent of women with a sexual disorder also experience depression.
There are countless risk factors for depression and low libido. These can include:
- Abuse of alcohol, drugs, or both
- Ongoing relationship problems
- Stressful life events, such as a divorce or lost job
- Major life transitions, whether neutral, negative, or positive
Likewise, there are many potential contributing factors to depression and a low sexual desire. Experiencing one condition doesn’t always indicate you will have the other. However, it’s crucial to understand that this is possible and common.
Treatment Options for Depression and Libido
Each person is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment plan for those who have depression and low libido concerns. However, there are various methods you can use in combination to make yourself whole again.
The primary goal of treatment depends on your situation and condition. They might include regaining your ability to enjoy life, restoring sexual desire, using effective communication, reducing depression symptoms, and much more.
There are different treatment options that might be appropriate, depending on the cause of your low libido and depression. Let’s focus on a few things that could be helpful!
Speak to a Medical Professional
Talking to a medical professional is often the first step when you experience depression and libido issues. Consider speaking to the family doctor or consulting with a psychiatrist.
Those experiencing depression may end up with erectile dysfunction. When they seek treatment for both issues, they will end up enjoying daily life once more, which means more sex and less depression.
Start with Communication
It’s also important to talk to your partner openly about your low libido concerns. You might be able to work through those difficult emotions and reach orgasm again.
Self-help books might be good if you’re not sure how to start the process. However, couples therapy or individual therapy sessions could be another avenue. The relationship intimacy might get better, but it might also improve sexual desire.
There used to be a huge stigma against talk therapy, but this is slowly ebbing. People now realize that they need help to deal with their depression symptoms and sexual desire concerns. Don’t be afraid to use the mental health services available to you!
Use Stress-relieving Techniques
Stress is often a factor that contributes to low libido and depression. Plus, sexual dysfunction can lead to more stress.
It’s crucial to find strategies and activities that will help you lower your stress. Some people meditate, listen to music, exercise, or journal. They can effectively treat depression and even boost your libido again.
Depression Treatment Options
Many times, depression can be treated with talk therapy or medications, such as anti-anxiety meds, antipsychotics, and antidepressants. There are also various lifestyle therapies that can be used as treatment options, such as:
- Alternative therapies (meditation and acupuncture)
- Light therapy
- Regular exercise
- Avoiding alcohol and drugs
- Getting high-quality sleep
- Learning to set boundaries in professional and personal situations
- Avoiding toxic relationships and people
- Eating a healthy diet
The Stanford University School of Medicine did a recent survey and found a new experimental treatment. SAINT (Stanford Accelerated Intelligent Neuromodulation Therapy) is about 80 percent effective against depression that is treatment-resistant.
However, there are many options out there that will treat low libido/depression. With that, practicing emotional self-care will help you find the lifestyle changes that will improve your sexual problems. You can’t neglect your physical health, though. This can contribute to those issues, as well.
Low Libido Treatment
A low sexual desire can be treated in many ways, depending on the issue. Switching to another medication might improve your sex drive. Likewise, healthier lifestyle choices can help, such as getting more exercise, reducing stress, improving your diet, cutting out alcohol, and getting plenty of sleep.
Testosterone replacement therapy could be helpful for men.
Talk therapy is often great for treating low libido. There are even specific sex positions that can relieve the stress and anxiety that you feel when being intimate with a partner.
It’s important to pay attention to your body after you start treatment. Your doctor might have to alter the dosage if you still have no sexual desire and feel depressed.
Though depression can cause your sexual desire to drop, antidepressants can cause low libido, too. Therefore, it’s wise to speak to your doctor to determine if the medication is responsible for loss of sensation in the genitals, trouble orgasming, difficulty getting sexually aroused, and more.
Work with a Coach or Sex Therapist
If you’re not taking medications or have ruled out antidepressants as the cause of the depression effect on libido, there might be other factors to consider.
The root cause of your low sexual desire might have been depression initially. However, the habits acquired during that time might be the reason you’re not back up to par.
Many people develop a negative pattern that inhibits desire with their sexual partner, even after depression is handled. Therefore, it might be wise to speak with a sex therapist. He or she can help you “undo” the habits you got into when depressed so that you are more open to sex again.
Though some people worry about sex therapy, it is a helpful treatment option that could raise your sexual desire with time. For example, you might turn your cheek to avoid a kiss or back away from closeness and intimacy.
Once the depression subsides, that gut reaction stays. It tells your body and mind that sex will equal stress and pressure, so you ignore the feelings or don’t have them anymore. Sometimes, it’s possible to stop those habits yourself, but it’s generally easier, faster, and safer when you work with a professional.
Can Depression Cause Low Libido?
Many people wonder: can depression lower libido? It’s very possible. However, it doesn’t always have to happen. You could have low libido issues for other reasons.
Can Depression Decrease Libido?
Yes, depression can decrease libido. The biology behind the two is clear, but it’s more complicated to see how depression affects the person’s outlook on life and relationships. In some cases, people experience reduced self-esteem, mood swings, low energy levels, and the inability to experience pleasure at all.
All of those things can lead to sexual challenges in the bedroom. Treating depression is the first step, but using certain medications can make the issue worse. One side effect of most antidepressants is a low sex drive.
What Are Ways to Get Turned on While Depressed?
Many people wonder how to get turned on when depressed. Massages, hugging, and cuddling are all things you can try while you fight depression. You may not achieve arousal every time, but you will feel that your partner cares for you, which can relieve stress.
It’s also helpful to masturbate. Turning yourself on is the first step and can help you understand your body better.
Can Depression Cause Horniness?
In most cases, depression leads to a lower sex drive, but it can cause horniness, too. Everyone deals with depression in different ways, so you may have more desire for sex. As it becomes the only outlet you have, it turns into a coping mechanism. However, you must be careful because some people engage in risky behavior to try and feel better.
Where Do You Go for Treatment?
In most cases, people try to self-medicate themselves because they don’t want to admit there’s a problem. However, this can have adverse effects on you and your partner. Instead, it’s wise to visit your general practitioner. They can discuss your issues and determine the right course of action.
Many times, your doctor will recommend that you see a psychiatrist to get started on an antidepressant. However, they may also ask that you go to counseling to work through any mental health issues you’re having.
Paired, psychiatry and medication can treat the depression. You may also see a sex therapist to work through feelings and habits you picked up while depressed.
Do You Suffer from Depression & Libido Issues? Final Thoughts
Learning more about sex depression (the relationship between sexual desire and depression) is the first step. You understand that it’s quite common, but now you’ve got to start the journey of recovery and treatment.
Your feelings are valid, regardless of what they are. Now, you must focus on highly effective treatments that will stop the depression or anxiety you feel when dealing with intimacy. The issue is that your antidepressant might cause the low sex drive. Therefore, you may also have to work with a sex therapist to re-learn your sexuality.
Though it can be scary to think that you’ll never enjoy sex again, there are treatments that can help. Get the support you need from your partner and medical professionals!