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Depression And Libido: Is There A Link?

09 December, 2022

Depression is a common condition, affecting over 5% of adults worldwide. With symptoms including fatigue, lack of motivation and general hopelessness, it might not come as a surprise that a reduced sex drive is also a symptom of depression.

But what is the connection between depression and libido? We look at how depression and low libido can overlap, how antidepressants can play a role and getting the right treatment.

What is depression?

Down in the dumps, the blues, black dog days — there are lots of euphemisms for being depressed. But while all of us can feel low from time to time, depression as a mood disorder is quite different.

Depression as a clinical condition is defined as constantly feeling sad or low for a prolonged period, often weeks or months. It is marked by a variety of symptoms, such as:

  • Feeling hopeless

  • Low self-esteem

  • Feeling tearful or crying easily

  • Lacking motivation

  • Loss of interest in the activities you once enjoyed

  • Feelings of anxiety

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Self-harm

But depression also comes with physical symptoms too:

  • Changes in appetite or weight

  • Low energy

  • Changes to your menstrual cycle

  • Difficulty sleeping

As well as all the above, another common symptom you might also experience is a loss of libido — let’s take a closer look.

Does depression affect sex drive?

Depression can affect virtually every aspect of your life — including your sex and your libido.

Prolonged periods of depression can leave you feeling like a ship adrift at sea, listless and without direction, with sex the last thing on your mind. Tired and unmotivated, you might lose interest in sex altogether, or even unable to derive any pleasure from sex at all. Even masturbation can feel like an immense chore.

This is only made worse by other effects of depression — poor body image, low self-confidence and mood swings can make sex like a pretty unappealing prospect.

But the opposite can be true too. If you’re already experiencing low libido as a result of something else, such as a medical condition, then this might trigger or exacerbate feelings of depression. The relationship between sex and depression can be powerful.

Depression and low libido: causes & risk factors

So what’s the link between depression and low libido? Why do we feel depressed, and how does it reduce our sex drive? Let’s look at the science behind it.

In a healthy brain, there are chemicals known as neurotransmitters that send messages to your brain when you feel things — including arousal. When you’re turned on, your body responds by sending blood to your genitals, firing up your sex drive and getting your vagina ready for sex.

But in the brain of a depressed person, these chemicals are imbalanced. This impacts your sex drive, making it harder to become aroused.

It’s worth noting though that the symptoms of depression and the symptoms of low libido often overlap:

  • Unable to experience pleasure, sexual or otherwise

  • Loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed

  • Dramatic changes in mood

  • Reduced self-confidence

  • Lower energy levels

The overlap of these symptoms can make it tricky to diagnose your problems, and in many cases, the occurrence of one condition can cause the onset of another.

Depression, low sex drive & antidepressants

We’ve got some more bad news for you — what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander, especially if the gander in question is your sex drive.

While antidepressants can be effective at helping relieve depression and manage your mood, many antidepressants can actually negatively impact your libido too. Any antidepressant can impact your sex drive, but selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like the ones below are the most well-known:

  • Citalopram

  • Duloxetine

  • Escitalopram

  • Paroxetine

  • Fluoxetine

  • Sertraline

SSRIs affect your libido because they raise your levels of serotonin, one of your so-called ‘feel-good hormones’. However, SSRIs are designed to block your hormone receptors to help promote the function of serotonin, with the side effect of also blocking hormones released during sex too. This makes it harder for you to get turned on as a result.

Treating depression and low libido

If you suffer from depression and low libido, you’re not alone.

Depression is a complex thing, and it affects people differently. Thankfully, there are a variety of different options available that can help manage your depression and increase your libido too.

Therapy is a great way to get to the root of your depression. The timely intervention of a qualified professional helps you understand what you’re feeling and (importantly) why you’re feeling it too.

Another effective way to treat depression and low libido is with exercise. Remember those feel-good hormones we mentioned earlier? Exercise is a great way to help your body make more of them. Weights, running, swimming, even yoga — they’re all amazing when it comes to making you feel like you again and relieving depression and low libido.

If low libido is the root cause of your depression, it may be worth considering a course of hormonal therapy. Hormone and You's bioidentical testosterone cream is an effective solution that is proven to boost your sex drive. This naturally formulated treatment can help to rebalance your hormones and alleviate symptoms — improving libido, energy and confidence.

Key takeaways

So what have we learned? Here are some key takeaways to remember:

  • Depression is a common mental health condition which can result in a loss of libido.

  • The symptoms of depression and low sex drive often overlap.

  • Antidepressants, often prescribed to treat depression, can also cause low libido.

  • Exercise, therapy and hormonal treatments can be effective at relieving depression and preventing a reduced sex drive.

Get in touch

Depression is never nice, and low libido isn’t a walk in the park either. Get the help you need from Hormones and You.

Get in touch today to discover how Hormones and You’s range of accessible, natural and personalised hormone solutions can help you rediscover a healthy, happy, fulfilling sex life.

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