Erectile Dysfunction and Depression
Not everyone knows that there is a connection between erectile dysfunction and depression. Research reveals that 35-47% of those suffering from depression also have problems with their sex life. Erectile dysfunction is one such problem that often accompanies depression. ED is a condition in which a man is not able to achieve or maintain an erection, thus impacting their sex life and relationship with sexual partner.
Depression Causes ED
The sexual urge that causes an erection is triggered by chemicals in your brain. However, erectile dysfunction is often the result when there aren’t enough chemicals in the brain for stimulating the blood flow required for an erection. When you suffer from depression, the balance of brain chemicals is lost, thus affecting your desire for sex. As a result, it gets difficult to achieve or maintain an erection. Such condition is known as psychogenic erectile dysfunction.
Psychological illness, stress, anxiety, tension, and depression can impair the brain signals that are otherwise responsible for initiating the chain of biological events required for achieving an erection. Research reveals that men with high depression scores are twice at the risk of ED than non-depressed men. The study notes that stress and depression are the most common comorbid problems in men suffering from erectile dysfunction. Other psychological causes may include low self-esteem, guilt, fear of sexual failure, history of physical abuse, and fatigue.
Symptoms of ED
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you are likely suffering from depression and erectile dysfunction:
- You have started losing interest in sex after a stressful life event
- You have lost the desire for sex after you started taking an antidepressant
- You have lost your self esteem and feel negative about yourself
- You constantly remain stressed, frustrated, and depressed and no longer find pleasure in sex
Are Erectile Dysfunction and Depression in Men Linked?
Researchers confirm that there is a connection between depression and testosterone. Depression raises the risk of erectile dysfunction in men. A study performed by the University of Western Australia, published in Archives of General Psychiatry, on about 4,000 men above 70 years of age found that those in the bottom 20% of free testosterone were three times more at the risk of depression compared to those in the top 20%.
Psychological stress and depression stress the body, impacting testosterone levels in the body. Anything that stresses the body can lower testosterone and thus affect the level of key brain chemicals that cause sexual desire or stimulation.
The higher your testosterone, the less the risk of a major depression as you age. Another study funded by the Australian Government found that older men with lower testosterone had a higher risk of depression than those with higher testosterone levels. It is already known that low testosterone affects your sexual performance. This proves that erectile dysfunction and depression impact sexual health, though more focused studies are required to fully understand the relationship between the two conditions.
Negative thinking about sexual behaviors may result in greater sexual performance anxiety and poorer sexual function.
Men who judge themselves primarily on the basis of sexual performance can benefit significantly from erectile dysfunction treatment. Thus successful treatment of ED can help improve self esteem and depression in men.