How depression impacts your sex life and tips to help

Our mental health has a massive impact on our sexual lives and relationships. Depression, which is categorized as a major depressive condition causing someone to find little enjoyment in life or a dip in mood, absolutely affects the quality of a person’s sex life. And it’s not an uncommon occurrence among Canadians: according to the government, one in four Canadians have a serious enough depressive condition to need treatment.

When a person’s depression is impacting their day-to-day lives, it’s reasonable that it, too, would affect how often they have sex, that it may not last long, or the drive to have sex is gone completely.

Here we’ll unpack how depression affects intimate relationships and provide some tips on how to communicate sexual needs, spice up sex, and rebuild intimacy.

How depression affects intimacy and relationships

Chronic depression means a lack of desire to do anything for extended periods of time. Low moods are often followed by irritability and feelings of sadness. It’s a catch-22 because sex is an incredible mood booster but, for those who live with depression, the drive to engage in foreplay or sex at all may not come so easily, if at all.

It’s common for those new to or managing depression to stop finding sex pleasurable for a number of reasons, some including: 

  1. Postpartum. New mothers experience a specific kind of depression after giving birth.
  2. Menopause. As the body changes, dips in mood or increased stress can be expected.
  3. Medicine. Many antidepressants, like SSRIs, used to treat and manage depression may cause sexual side effects like a lowered libido or inability to orgasm fully or not at all.

Depression and intimate relationships are complicated. So much of depression is tied up in a lack of self-esteem and lowered energy, which are key to a fulfilling sexual life. A vital way to help anyone managing depression, whether it’s high-functioning or severe and debilitating, is to acknowledge that person’s limitations and affirm your commitment to them and their pleasure. Affirmations of this kind keep reinforcing a safe sexual and intimate experience, and rebuild intimacy, too.

Tips to help if depression is impacting your sex life

Sometimes depression acts as a kind of pause during a person’s day. It may take a little bit of effort to get out of the psychological rut but ultimately they can have a fulfilling and pleasurable sexual life.

Here are four ways to help if depression is impacting your sex life.

Begin with communication

Acknowledge how you’re feeling, communicate with your partner about what you need, and ensure there’s an open dialogue. This may take time and effort but massively pays off in strengthening a relationship.

Extended foreplay

Some folks who experience depression may need to take a bit more time to get their engine moving, so to speak. Foreplay is a great way to take it slow, build anticipation, and give someone time to get in the mood for sex.

Try lube

Lube is wonderful to incorporate into your sexual life no matter what. It’s fun, experimental, and it can also be a great tool to use. If a person is experiencing dryness from a lack of wetness produced by the body, or is turned on by the addition of lube into the bedroom, try K-Y® LUBRICANT-Naturals*.

*Ensure this product is right for you. Always read and follow the product label.

Experiment with toys

Like extending foreplay to get aroused, incorporating toys can spice up and make the sexual experience last longer. If there is difficulty in getting and staying aroused, use a toy on your partner. It satisfies them and you are still the one giving them pleasure.