Depression And Sex: How Depression Affects Your Sex Life

By Nicole Beasley

Updated June 02, 2020

Reviewer Aaron Horn

Depression can affect many aspects of your life. One of the primary ways that depression affects you is in your relationships. Depression also affects your sex life, which can also affect your relationship in a negative way. Here's what you need to know about depression and sex and how they relate to one another.

Ways That Depression Affects Sex

Depression can affect sex in several ways, according to the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. While depression itself can often result in a loss of sexual desire, there are several other ways that it can affect your sex life. Medications can also decrease libido, but it is important not to let these side effects keep you from treatment. Here are the primary ways that depression affects sex and desire.


Sexual Self-Esteem

Depression can make you feel as though you are not good enough for anyone, including your partner. When you are afraid that you will not be satisfied during sexual relations, it can make you feel as though you want to avoid the experience entirely. When you do have sex, having low sexual self-esteem can make you less likely to enjoy the experience or help your partner achieve satisfaction. Your mind tends to focus on questions about your proficiency instead of being "In the moment". Your partner may be able to help you in this if you communicate well together and your partner can reassure you of your ability to satisfy them in this way.

Feeling Sexually Distant

Often depression makes you feel emotional and even physically cut off from those you love. The same is true of personal relationships where sex is involved. If you are feeling cut off from your partner, you may be feeling sexually distant. This means that you may not be able to feel as though you and your partner are on the same page sexually. It can also mean that your mind is so absorbed in depression that you are unable to feel sexual desire for your partner, or any other feelings other than sadness or feeling overwhelmed.

Problems Communicating About Sex

Communication is key in any relationship, and you must communicate with your partner about your sex life and sexual health. Depression can often make you feel anxious about communicating with your partner. Your depression will convince you that your partner will never understand what you are going through or what your needs are. You must overcome this anxiety to talk to your partner about how you are feeling about sex so that you can work together to overcome it.

Unsure Of Initiating Sex

Depression can also make you less likely to initiate sex. Again, your depression lies. It may tell you that your partner doesn't want anything to do with you sexually. Your mind may be afraid to initiate sex because you don't want to overstep boundaries or face potential rejection. Again, communication can be key. Learning to read your partner's signals and allowing that communication to supersede your feelings of fear of rejection or embarrassment is important for overcoming this problem.


Decreased Sex Drive

One of the biggest side effects of depression is a decreased sex drive. In fact, many people learn that they have clinical depression because they seek help for their lowered sex drive that is affecting their relationship. Certain antidepressants and other depression treatments can also have a side effect of decreased libido or sexual dysfunction. You must discuss these problems with your partner so that they know your lack of interest in sex has nothing to do with them. This can go a long way toward preserving your relationship while you are working to correct the problem.

How To Save Your Sex Life

If you have made it this far into this article, you may have realized that you can relate to one or more of the ways that depression and sex affect one another. Recognizing that there is a problem is the first step to finding a solution. There is no one size fits all solution to sexual dysfunction or disinterest during a battle with depression. But some tried, and true methods can help you regain your sexual health and improve your relationships, according to Web MD.

Treat Depression First

Before you can focus on improving your sex life, you need to treat the depression first. Make sure that you are getting treatment in the form of both medication and psychotherapy. Treating depression can sometimes lead to changes in sexual function, but these changes are not necessarily always bad. You may simply need to change the way you think about sex and initiate sex with your partner. You can learn more about how to do this during your psychotherapy sessions, but your primary focus should be on treating the depression itself. Depression can hurt your relationships in ways unrelated to sex. Treating depression is of the utmost importance.


Tell Your Concerns To Your Doctor

If you feel that the antidepressants and other medications you are taking to treat your depression are affecting your sex life, talk to your doctor about these issues. Talking about sex to a virtual stranger can be very difficult, but the result can be very rewarding. Often sexual problems are linked to the dosage of antidepressants. Sometimes just lowering the dose slightly can make a huge difference in your libido and interest in sex. You must continue to take your medications, however, and if your doctor feels that your symptoms will worsen with a lowered dose, you may need to find other solutions.


People who have suffered from depression for a long period have developed habits relating to how they think about themselves, depression, sex, and other aspects of their life. Breaking these habits is just as important as treating the depression itself. Although clinical depression is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, the habits that are formed because of the depression cannot be broken with medication and other depression treatments. Only psychotherapy will be able to help you break these habits and stop these trains of thought that are hurting your sex life and relationships.


Communication is key to the success of any relationship. Many people find it difficult to talk about sex, even to their partner for many years. However, talking to your partner about your thoughts, feelings, and insecurities is important. Your depression will tell you that your partner doesn't want to hear about your concerns, but you have to ignore these thoughts and push forward. Only through effective communication can you and your partner get back to some sense of normalcy in the bedroom. You need to communicate with your partner about your thoughts and feelings, but also your desires and what you need to correct the problems you are having on the sexual front.


Your Next Steps

The first thing to do to improve your sex life is to treat your depression, which starts with an accurate diagnosis and finding resources for psychiatrists and therapists. There are many ways that you might be able to get the help you need, including getting referrals from your primary care doctor or your insurance company. You will also need psychotherapy to treat your depression and your sexual dysfunction or disinterest.

Getting the help you need can seem daunting. You have to be able to find the time to go to therapy sessions, as well as to visit a psychiatrist and get the prescriptions you need to correct the chemical imbalance in the brain that is causing the depression. You also have to be able to afford the treatments, which can be expensive even with health insurance.

There are some easy ways to get started in treating your depression and sex symptoms, however. One of the best ways to start getting help is through BetterHelp. BetterHelp is an affordable option for getting treatment for depression and having someone to talk to about your sexual problems. It is also very accessible and convenient. You can contact a therapist by phone, text, or online, with chat, voice, and video chat options. BetterHelp therapists are available day and night, every day of the week so that you can get the help you need when it is convenient for you. You can engage in treatment sessions from anywhere, including your home, your car, or even the restroom or a conference room at work.

If you are suffering from depression and sex-related issues that seem to be connected, you should not put off trying to get treatment. Your relationship will continue to be negatively impacted by a lack of sexual pleasure and desire as well as the depression itself. Don't put your relationships at risk. Contact a therapist today to get started on treating your depression and sex problems so that you and your partner can get back to enjoying each other once more.


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