Does Sex Help With Depression?


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Depression is often characterized by low moods and a loss of interest in activities. One such activity is sex because depression affects the libido negatively which results in low sex drive. Conversely, low sex performance can result in depression. For instance, it is a known fact that people who have erectile dysfunction and Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) can experience depression.   

Notwithstanding, if sexual performance isn’t the cause of depression Sex can help low moods in the way it produces the following feel-good hormones. 

Sex and your Mood

Dopamine

During orgasm, your brain works to produce various hormones and neurochemicals. The dopamine hormone is responsible for feelings of pleasure, desire, and motivation. It works with other hormones to make us feel pleasure and helps focus attention.

Dopamine deficiency has been linked to depression because our dopamine system is not just about motivation but reward. It is the reason we feel disappointed when we go out of our way to get something we badly want but don’t get it. The lack of reward for our motivation may lead us to become sad. Our motivation to seek out something we like and get a reward for it, is linked to the dopamine hormone.

Endorphins

Endorphins put us in a high mood and are good stress fighters. In addition, it reduces feelings of pain and works with dopamine to give the pleasure effect. The deficiency of endorphins can lead to depression, anxiety, and moodiness. As a stress depressant, endorphins after fighting stress can help your mind relax and make you sleep better. It achieves this by working alongside prolactin which is released during orgasm.

Oxytocin

Also referred to as the cuddle or bonding hormone, oxytocin increases the feelings of compassion and affection. This hormone is released during orgasm and gives a surge of positive emotions. This hormone works with other hormones like dopamine to reduce stress and anxiety when released.

Serotonin 

Serotonin is responsible for sleep metabolism, digestion, and mood are also released during sex. The hormone has been found to cause depression if it is on a low level. Likewise, increasing serotonin levels in women improve their sexual desires and function.

The semen isn’t left out. It plays a role in regulating our emotions. A study conducted by Gordon Gallup and colleagues at the State University of New York linked exposure to semen to depression or a lack of it. Women who used condoms were more likely to be depressed than those who did not use condoms because of their exposure to the fluid. Semen has been found to contain mood-altering hormones like estrogen, testosterone, and luteinizing hormone. So it comes as no surprise that semen is capable of improving moods.

A separate study of  58 middle-aged women found that sex can affect our mood longer than we think. According to the study, sex resulted in less stress and a positive mood the next day. The same study found out that being in a good mood led to improved physical affection and good sex. 

More than feel-good hormones

Why does sex have so much power over our mood? Speaking to INSIDER, clinical psychologist Daniel Sher addresses this question. According to him, sex has that power over our mood, because of how the brain operates during intercourse. The logical part of the brain( responsible for making sound judgments and decisions) in charge of logical reasoning skills shuts out for a while and becomes less active. This deactivation of the lateral orbitofrontal cortex decreases our fear and anxiety. When you think about this critically, you will understand why the brain blocks out anxiety and fear. The glaring answer is anxiety and fear can block out all the pleasure that comes with sex.

Sex isn’t the only answer

Sex isn’t the only answer to handling issues of depression. Using sex as an anti-depressant cannot solve depression problems. A lasting solution for depression comes with getting help from mental health professionals. 

Bear in mind that sex can benefit your depressive state if you have it with someone you both have a close bond with. Having sex more than usual under the guise of fighting depression may lead you to more trouble. For one thing, frequently having unprotected sex poses a health risk. Moreso, it’s a sign that your self-esteem is on the line. Compulsive sexual behavior is a mental health problem that needs professional handling. 

The best way to go about managing depression is to find ways to treat it. Frederick K. Goodwin, MD, who serves on the scientific council for the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, tells us why. He said, “The whole process of sexual arousal starts with the ability to anticipate pleasure, which is lost with depression. Drugs that treat depression can release sexual function from the grips of depression.”

Addressing the underlying causes is always the best way to tackle any health challenge. If you are struggling with depression and it is affecting your sex drive, seek help. Nevertheless, there are things you can still do to put yourself in the right frame of mind.

Revive your sex drive

Make lifestyle changes. Some diets can naturally help improve your libido. For instance, eating food that contains Zinc and amino acids could help improve your sex drive. Try including these kinds of meals in your diet. Exercises before having sex work magic too. It’s a great way to ramp up feel-good hormones and set you up in the mood.

Go on a date

Schedule a date so that you do not have any excuses to be reluctant about getting out of the house. A little outing can be a good diversion from the goings-on of an anxious life. Take a breather, would you? A date can help you unwind.

Opt for a massage

Massages can help relax your muscles and nerves. Massages never go wrong, and coming from a lover, it can trigger the right nerves that make you want to go all the way.

Have pillow talks

Intimate conversations help you bond better. The oxytocin hormone usually becomes active on this occasion and helps you and your partner feel connected and in love. The connection experienced during pillow talks can help improve your sexual life as pillow talks can lead to sex.

The simple answer is sex cannot cure depression. But sex can help with depression with how it improves our mood. And this gives the additional perks that come with an improved mood. They include relaxation, less anxiety, good sleep, lowered blood, and pleasure.

Sex helps with depression primarily because of how it handles your stress level. Like, how intimacy reduces the cortisol level and regulates blood pressure. Sometimes depression is deeply rooted in long-term stress, while at other times, depression is the cause of stress. One way or another, rolling in the hay can make things look better for you. 

Article made possible by Amaka. Amaka is a content strategist at ofnoah.sg. She has been working in social media and content marketing for five years. She specializes in the health, tech, innovation, and travel sectors. When she is not writing, you will find her teaching math, and trying new recipes and listening to audiobooks.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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