SWISS MEDICAL EXPERTISE: ZURICH, MALLORCA, LONDON, NEW YORK

14 Minutes

Edited & clinically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
Fact checked

Low libido and depression are intertwined issues that can significantly affect an individual’s overall well-being. Depression, a prevalent mental health condition, often goes hand in hand with a decreased interest in sex, commonly referred to as low libido. It’s estimated that up to 70% of individuals with depression experience sexual problems, including low sex drive. 

The complex relationship between depression and sex drive involves various factors. It’s important to recognize that depression’s impact on libido is a real and common challenge, and seeking help from healthcare professionals is essential to address both mental health and sexual well-being.

Sexual intimacy is a fundamental aspect of human relationships, bringing pleasure, connection, and emotional bonding. However, depression, a common mental health condition, can cast a shadow over this intimate aspect of life.

Libido refers to an individual’s sexual desire or appetite for sexual activity. It represents the natural, instinctual inclination towards engaging in sexual experiences. Libido can vary greatly among individuals and can be influenced by a wide range of factors, including physical health, psychological well-being, hormonal balance, relationship dynamics, and life circumstances.

Depression, on the other hand, is a common mental health disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed. It can affect a person’s mood, thoughts, and behavior, often leading to physical and emotional symptoms such as fatigue, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, and a diminished ability to concentrate.

Is Low Libido a Sign of Depression?

Depression is like a multifaceted puzzle, and one of its pieces is low libido, commonly known as a decreased interest in sex. While low libido can be a symptom of various physical and psychological issues, it is often associated with depression. 

Feeling sad, hopeless, and emotionally drained can take a toll on your desire for sex. Depression affects the brain’s neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which play key roles in regulating mood and sexual desire [3]. 

As a result, individuals grappling with depression may find themselves less interested in sexual activities.

Mechanisms of How Depression Affects Sex

Neurotransmitter Imbalance: Depression disrupts the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Serotonin, for example, plays a crucial role in mood regulation and can impact sexual desire when its levels are imbalanced. Lower serotonin levels can lead to sexual dysfunction, including low libido [3].

Cognitive Distortions: Depression often brings a distorted view of oneself and the world. Negative self-perception and low self-esteem can create feelings of inadequacy in sexual relationships. Individuals with depression might doubt their attractiveness or sexual performance, leading to decreased sexual interest [2].

Fatigue and Low Energy: Depressed individuals frequently experience fatigue and a lack of energy. This physical exhaustion can make engaging in sexual activities seem like an overwhelming task, contributing to low libido [1].

Medication Side Effects: Some medications prescribed to manage depression may have sexual side effects. Antidepressants, for instance, can impact sexual function, causing difficulties with arousal, orgasm, or erectile dysfunction.

Prevalence of Sexual Dysfunction Caused by Depression

The link between depression and sexual dysfunction is more common than one might think:

Approximately 35-50% of individuals with depression report experiencing sexual problems.

Up to 70% of people taking antidepressant medications may encounter sexual side effects, including decreased libido and difficulties with arousal and orgasm [3].

Different Ways Depression Can Cause Sexual Dysfunction

Depression can manifest in various forms when it comes to sexual dysfunction:

Low Libido: As previously mentioned, diminished interest in sex is a common consequence of depression. Individuals may experience a loss of desire, making it challenging to engage in sexual activities [2].

Erectile Dysfunction (ED): Depression can lead to physiological changes that result in erectile dysfunction in men. The stress and anxiety associated with depression can contribute to ED, creating additional psychological hurdles [3].

Orgasmic Problems: Both men and women with depression may encounter difficulties achieving orgasm. This can stem from altered neurotransmitter levels and the emotional toll of depression.

Painful Intercourse: Depression can also contribute to physical symptoms, such as muscle tension and pain during intercourse. This can further discourage individuals from engaging in sexual activity [1].

Demographics Prone to Depression-Induced Low Sex Drive 

Depression does not discriminate, but certain population groups may be more susceptible to experiencing low sex drive as a result of depression:

Gender: Both men and women can be affected, but women are more likely to experience sexual dysfunction linked to depression, including low libido and orgasmic difficulties [3].

Age: While depression can strike at any age, older adults may be more susceptible to sexual dysfunction due to age-related factors and comorbid medical conditions.

Medication Use: Individuals taking antidepressants are at a higher risk of experiencing sexual side effects. However, it’s essential to remember that not everyone on these medications will have these issues.

When it comes to the impact of depression and sex drive in females, unique challenges and differences are encountered compared to males. 

Let’s delve into how depression in females affects their sex drive and explore the distinctions.

Emotional Impact

Depression often brings a whirlwind of emotions, making it hard to feel in the mood for intimacy. In females, this emotional turmoil can lead to a decreased interest in sex. Feelings of sadness, guilt, and hopelessness can overshadow the desire for physical connection.

Hormonal Factors

Unlike males, females undergo significant hormonal changes throughout their lives, including during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. These hormonal fluctuations can interact with depression and affect sex drive. For example, low estrogen levels during menopause can contribute to vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex, making it less enjoyable [3].

Body Image and Self-Esteem

Females often grapple with societal pressure and expectations regarding their appearance. Depression can exacerbate negative self-perception, leading to feelings of unattractiveness and low self-esteem. These factors can reduce the desire for sexual intimacy [2].

Medication Side Effects

In the pursuit of managing depression, females may be prescribed antidepressant medications. While these drugs can be effective in treating depression, some of them can have sexual side effects, such as decreased libido and difficulties with arousal or orgasm. Balancing mental health and sexual well-being can be a delicate act [1].

Relationship Dynamics: Navigating Intimacy

Depression can strain relationships, affecting communication and emotional connection. Females may find it challenging to engage in sexual activities when their relationships are impacted by depression-related tension or withdrawal. These relationship dynamics can further diminish sex drive [2].

Coping Strategies

Overcoming the challenges of depression-induced low sex drive in females often involves seeking professional help. Healthcare providers can offer guidance on managing depression and its impact on sexuality. Therapy and counseling can be invaluable tools for addressing both emotional and sexual concerns.

When depression takes a toll on your sex drive, it’s crucial to identify and address this issue for both your mental health and your intimate relationships. The diagnosis of depression-induced low sex drive involves a careful evaluation of both depression and its effects on your sexual function. 

Here, we’ll delve into the methods and procedures used by healthcare professionals to make this diagnosis.

Clinical Assessment

Depression Evaluation: To diagnose depression, healthcare providers typically use established criteria from diagnostic manuals like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). They’ll inquire about your mood, feelings of hopelessness, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and your overall emotional well-being [3]. A standardized questionnaire, such as the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), may also be administered to gauge depression severity.

Assessment of Low Libido: Assessing low sex drive often involves an open conversation about your sexual history and experiences. Healthcare providers will ask about changes in your desire for sex and whether you’ve noticed a decrease in sexual activity. Sharing your feelings and experiences honestly is essential for an accurate assessment [1].

Physical Examination

A physical examination is crucial to rule out any physical conditions that could contribute to low sex drive. It may include checking for hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, or medication side effects, which can mimic or exacerbate the symptoms of depression-induced low sex drive.

Psychological Evaluation

A psychological evaluation may involve specialized assessments to gauge the psychological impact of depression on your sexual function. For instance, the Arizona Sexual Experience Scale (ASEX) can help assess various aspects of sexual dysfunction, including libido, arousal, and satisfaction [2].

Laboratory Tests

If hormonal imbalances are suspected, healthcare providers may request blood tests to measure hormone levels, such as testosterone, in both men and women. These tests can help determine if hormonal factors are contributing to low sex drive.

Medication Review

A review of your current medications is essential since some antidepressants and other medications can lead to sexual side effects. Your healthcare provider may consider adjusting your medication regimen or exploring alternative treatments to mitigate these effects while managing depression [1].

Dealing with depression can be tough, and it often takes a toll on various aspects of your life, including your sex drive. However, it’s possible to maintain a satisfying intimate life even while coping with depression. 

Here we’ll explore effective methods, tips, and strategies to help you nurture your sex drive during these challenging times.

Open Communication

Communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship, especially when it comes to addressing changes in your sex drive due to depression. Discuss your feelings and experiences with your partner openly and honestly. Let them know what you’re going through and reassure them that your emotional connection remains strong. Sharing your struggles can foster understanding and support, reducing potential stressors in your relationship.

Seek Professional Help

Don’t hesitate to consult a healthcare provider or mental health professional. They can provide valuable guidance on managing depression and its impact on your sex drive. 

Treatment options may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. When your depression is effectively managed, it can positively influence your libido.

Manage Stress

Stress is a common companion to depression and can further dampen your sex drive. Explore relaxation techniques such as mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to reduce stress levels. These practices can help you feel more present in the moment, making it easier to engage in intimate activities without distractions.

Prioritize Self-Care

Taking care of your mental and physical well-being is paramount. Engage in activities that promote self-care, like regular exercise and maintaining a balanced diet. 

Exercise, in particular, has been shown to boost mood and improve sexual function. Additionally, ensuring you get enough restful sleep can contribute to an enhanced sex drive.

Explore Sensual Experiences

Intimacy doesn’t always have to revolve around sex. Focus on sensual experiences that promote emotional connection and closeness with your partner. This could include cuddling, massages, or simply spending quality time together. By prioritizing emotional intimacy, you can maintain a sense of closeness even when your sex drive is low.

Experiment and Communicate

When you’re dealing with depression, your sexual desires and responses may change. Be open to experimenting with new ways of experiencing pleasure with your partner. Keep the lines of communication open and let your partner know what feels good and what doesn’t. Experimenting together can be a way to rediscover intimacy and adapt to your current emotional state.

Be Patient and Kind to Yourself

It’s important to be patient with yourself and avoid self-criticism. Depression can bring fluctuating moods and energy levels, which may affect your sex drive. 

Understand that it’s okay to have periods of low libido, and there’s no need to pressure yourself into sexual activities if you’re not feeling up to it. Self-compassion and self-acceptance are crucial during these times.

Consider Sex Therapy

In some cases, seeking the guidance of a sex therapist or counselor who specializes in sexual problems related to depression can be beneficial. These professionals can offer specific techniques and strategies to address sexual issues while managing depression.

There are effective treatments available to address both depression and its impact on your sex drive. 

Let’s explore various treatment strategies, including therapy, medication, diet, and lifestyle changes, to help you regain control of your emotional and sexual well-being.

Therapy

Individual Therapy: Seeking therapy with a trained mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, is an essential step in managing depression. Through therapy, you can explore the root causes of your depression, develop coping strategies, and address the emotional aspects affecting your sex drive. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a widely used approach that can help change negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with both depression and low libido [1].

Couples Therapy: If your low libido is straining your relationship, couples therapy can be immensely beneficial. It provides a safe space for you and your partner to discuss your emotional and sexual needs openly. 

A therapist can offer guidance on improving communication, and intimacy and resolving conflicts stemming from changes in your sex life [2].

Medication

Antidepressant medication may be prescribed by a healthcare provider to manage depression symptoms. While some antidepressants can have sexual side effects, such as decreased libido, others may be less likely to affect your sex drive. 

It’s crucial to discuss these side effects with your doctor to find the best medication for your specific needs. In some cases, medication adjustments or switching to a different antidepressant can help mitigate sexual side effects [3].

Diet and Lifestyle Changes

Balanced Diet: What you eat can play a role in your emotional well-being. A diet rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and antioxidants can support mental health. Incorporate foods like fatty fish, leafy greens, and berries into your diet to provide essential nutrients for brain function and mood regulation.

Exercise: Regular physical activity has been shown to boost mood, reduce stress, and increase libido. Engaging in activities you enjoy, such as walking, swimming, or dancing, can promote overall well-being and improve sexual function.

Sleep Hygiene: Prioritize getting enough restful sleep. Sleep deprivation can exacerbate depression symptoms and decrease sex drive. Establish a bedtime routine, limit screen time before bed, and create a comfortable sleeping environment to improve sleep quality.

Stress Management: Techniques like mindfulness meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress, which is a common contributor to low libido. Managing stress effectively can have a positive impact on both your mental and sexual health.

Luxury Inpatient Treatment For Depression-Induced Low Libido: A Novel Modality

Luxury inpatient treatment for low libido caused by depression represents a holistic and exclusive approach to addressing these challenging issues. These specialized programs provide individuals with a high level of care and attention in a serene and comfortable environment.

At our luxury inpatient facilities, clients can expect personalized treatment plans tailored to their unique needs. These plans often encompass a combination of therapy, medication management, and lifestyle interventions. In addition to standard therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and counseling, our clients may have access to alternative therapies such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, and art therapy, all aimed at addressing the emotional and psychological aspects of low libido caused by depression.

The accommodations in our luxury inpatient settings are designed to offer the utmost comfort and privacy. Clients often enjoy spacious, well-appointed rooms, gourmet dining options, and access to spa-like amenities. The goal is to create an atmosphere that promotes relaxation, reducing the stress and anxiety that can contribute to low libido.

Furthermore, some of the specialized programs may offer a comprehensive assessment of hormonal and physiological factors, with access to medical professionals who can address any underlying issues related to low libido.

When to Seek Professional Help

It’s essential to recognize when seeking professional help is necessary for depression-induced low sex drive:

Persistent Symptoms: If your depression and low libido persist for an extended period, despite self-help efforts, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider or mental health professional.

Interference with Daily Life: When depression and low sex drive start interfering with your daily life, work, relationships, or overall well-being, professional intervention becomes necessary.

Suicidal Thoughts or Severe Symptoms: If you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide, seek immediate help from a crisis hotline or a mental health professional. These thoughts require urgent attention.

Significant Relationship Strain: When your low libido is causing significant strain in your relationship or leading to conflicts, couples therapy can be an effective way to address these issues.

1. Cleveland Clinic. Depression and Sex. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9296-sexual-problems-and-depression

2. Hopkins Medicine. Low Sex Drive — Could It Be a Sign of Depression? https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/low-sex-drive-could-it-be-a-sign-of-depression

3. WebMD. Sexual Problems and Depression. https://www.webmd.com/depression/sexual-problems-and-depression

FAQs

HOW THE BALANCE CAN HELP WITH Depression

The Balance RehabClinic is a leading provider of luxury addiction and mental health treatment for affluent individuals and their families, offering a blend of innovative science and holistic methods with unparalleled individualised care.

A UNIQUE METHOD TREATING Depression

a successful and proven concept focusing on underlying causes
ONE CLIENT AT A TIME
TAILORED LASTING APPROACH
BIOCHEMICAL RESTORATION
MULTI-DISCIPLINARY & HOLISTIC
TECHNOLOGY BASED TREATMENT
TRAUMA INFORMED THERAPY

Depression TREATMENT LASTING APPROACH

0 Before

Send Admission Request

0 Before

Define Treatment Goals

1 week

Assessments & Detox

1-4 week

Psychological & Holistic Therapy

4 week

Family Therapy

5-8 week

Aftercare

12+ week

Refresher Visit

Depression Insights

latest news & research on Depression
Therapist taking notes while talking to someone in the background
Depression Counselling

Many people use the terms "psychotherapy" and "counseling" interchangeably. While the two are extremely similar,

read more
Luxury Depression Treatment
Luxury Depression Treatment

Luxury inpatient depression treatment is distinct from standard treatment centers in terms of amenities, scenic picturesque environment

read more
Best Depression Treatment Centers
Best Depression Treatment Centers

The treatment facilities have a team of experienced mental health professionals in diagnosing and treating depression

read more
DBT FOR DEPRESSION
DBT For Depression

Dialectical behavior therapy is a widely recognized and evidence-based therapeutic approach that has shown significant efficacy in managing and treating depression

read more

Accreditations

 
AMF
British Psychology Society
COMIB
COPAO
EMDR
EPA
FMH
ifaf
Institute de terapia neural
MEG
NeuroCademy
Neurocare
OGVT
pro mesotherapie
Red GPS
WPA
SFGU
SEMES
SMPG
Somatic Experience
ssaamp
TAA
 

Media

 
Live Science
Mallorca Magazin
Woman & Home
National World
American Banker
Marie Claire
BBC
La Nacion
Metro UK
General Anzeiger
Business Leader
Dazed
Apartment Therapy
Express UK
Bloomberg
Cosmopolitan
Morgenpost
Manager Magazin
Entrepreneur ME
The Guardian
Daily Mail
Mallorca Zeitung
Mirror Uk
The Times
The Standard
The Stylist
PsychologyToday
Psychreg
DeluxeMallorca
Businessinsider
ProSieben
Sat1
Focus
Taff
Techtimes
Highlife
abcMallorca