Depression & Sex

Depression and sex can intertwine with either one being a precursor to an impact on the other.

Depression could lead to a lower sex drive, or the inability to achieve orgasm. Depression could lead to actions that add tension in a relationship and decrease the desire for sex between a couple. Some antidepressants could lower someone’s sex drive, but some people don’t have any problem with sex when they are depressed.

There are several ways sex can lead to depression, such as being the recipient of sexual harassment or sexual violence, being in a relationship with unresolved issues, and a condition such as “post-coital dysphoria” that causes different levels of depression in some people after sex, but sex in itself can also be a mood booster.

The sourced articles below provide more information on depression and sex.

  1. What To Know About Bipolar Disorder And Sex

    “There has not been a great deal of research into the connection between bipolar disorder and sex. However, authors of a small study in the International Journal of Bipolar Disorders report a high prevalence of sexual distress and dissatisfaction among female participants with the condition. Results of a 2018 study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine indicate that males with bipolar disorder may be more likely to experience symptoms of erectile dysfunction than those without the disorder. This does not mean that everyone with bipolar disorder experiences sexual symptoms, only that there is a higher prevalence among this group.”

    Jon Johnson, Reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, CRNP,, 3/1/2019

  2. Masturbation And Depression: Is There A Link?

    “Masturbation is a common, safe activity that can offer many sexual health benefits, but some religions and cultures continue to prohibit it. Although masturbation does not cause depression, a person’s religious, cultural, or social views may cause them to feel bad about it. A 2018 study found that 62.5 percent of male study participants with depression experience some sexual dysfunction. Myths about masturbation were also more prevalent among those with depression. Masturbation will not have any effect on whether a person develops depression, but having depression can reduce a person’s sex drive, or libido, and may cause them to lose interest in masturbation.”

    Lana Burgess, Reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, CRNP,, 2/22/2019

  3. Low Sex Drive — Could It Be A Sign Of Depression?

    “‘Change in sex drive is a key symptom we look at when deciding if someone fits the diagnosis for major depressive episodes,’ Payne says. ‘A primary symptom of depression is the inability to enjoy things you normally enjoy, like sex. People with depression also have decreased energy, feel badly about themselves and might view their partners through a negative filter, all of which impacts sex drive.’ …
    [1.] Get help for the depression. …
    [2.] Keep doing it. …
    [3.] Don’t compare yourself to others. …
    [4.] Get buy-in from your partner. …
    [5.] Redefine intimacy. …”

    Jennifer Lanier Payne MD, The Johns Hopkins University,, accessed on 10/18/2018

  4. Can An Orgasm Make You Depressed?

    “A viewer writes in on social media that after she has an orgasm, she feels depressed for a day or two. She wants to know what is the cause and if it’s normal. … The Doctors invite on psychiatrist Dr. Ish Major to answer her questions. It turns out, there is a name for this diagnosis, PCD, post-coital dysphoria. Dr. Ish says it affects about 10% of women every single time after sex and up to 50% of women 2 – 3 times per month.”

    The Doctors,, 10/12/2018

  5. Why You Should Have Sex More Often

    “Improvement in Mood … It’s not just an old wives tale that a good roll in the hay can improve mood. There are a number of chemicals our bodies release during sex that can affect how we feel. During sex, our brains release endorphins, “feel good” chemicals that can reduce irritability and feelings of depression. Another hormone, oxytocin (the “hug drug”), is released with nipple stimulation and other sexual activity. Similar to the effect it has on nursing mothers (oxytocin is responsible for the “let down” reflex in breastfeeding), oxytocin can create a sense of calmness and contentedness. Finally, orgasm leads to the release of yet another hormone, prolactin, that can aid in sleep.”

    Sheri Stritof,, 10/10/2018

  6. The Lasting Health Effects Of Sexual Assault

    “The details: In a study of 304 women, 19% said they had been sexually harassed at work, and 22% reported being a victim of sexual assault.
    -Women who had been the victims of sexual assault were three times more likely to show signs of clinical depression, compared to women who hadn’t been assaulted. They were twice as likely to have elevated anxiety. …”

    Sam Baker,, 10/4/2018

  7. 9 Proven Benefits Of Semen That Will Blow Your Mind

    “Semen contains quite a few components that have been studied to show anti-depressant qualities. One of these is nerve growth factor. Its primary responsibility in semen is to help relax the female so that the sperm can achieve its reproductive objective. It’s also been shown to be a vital hormone missing in the brains of those who suffer from Major Depressive Disorder. This means that increasing nerve growth factor would only prove to make people happier. Additionally, nerve growth factor has been found to be an anti-inflammatory as well as an antioxidant.”

    Lauren Crain,, 8/21/2018

  8. Rediscovering Your Libido After Depression

    “According to Dr. Leila Frodsham, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, it isn’t all bad news when it comes to antidepressants, although many people do report losing their libido with certain, commonly prescribed antidepressants. For some, however, antidepressants may not affect your libido, and you may find your libido returns after your mood has improved with their help.”

    Imogen Robinson,, 1/4/2018

  9. 5 Signs That Depression Is Eroding Your Relationship

    “To rekindle the romance, we’ve outlined five classic symptoms of depression that erode a relationship. Plus, we asked therapists for their best strategies to help you and your partner survive depression together. …
    [1.] Your sex drive tanks. …
    [2.] You squabble more. …
    [3.] You’re isolating yourself. …
    [4.] You don’t want to go out. …
    [5.] You’re letting yourself go. …”

    Everyday Health,, 11/17/2017

  10. The Truth About What Depression Does To Your Sex Life

    “‘Depression can impact a woman’s sex life in a variety of ways,’ clinical psychologist and sex therapist Marianne Brandon, Ph.D., explains. ‘It often brings with it a low sex drive, as well as decreased energy and motivation, impaired self-esteem, and a desire to be alone—all of which can impact a woman’s interest in and enjoyment of sex.'”

    Amanda Chatel,, 1/4/2017

  11. How Depression Can Affect Your Sex Life

    “‘There’s a brain-body connection, so it’s not unusual at all that when people have depression, they can have a lot of physical manifestations,’ Jamil Abdur-Rahman, M.D., board-certified ob/gyn and chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Vista East Medical Center in Waukegan, Illinois, tells SELF. That certainly extends to your sex life—in fact, that’s often an early sign of depression rearing its head. ‘Sex drive can be one of the first things to go,’ Gary Brown, Ph.D, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles, tells SELF.”

    Zahra Barnes,, 9/13/2016

  12. A Sex Educator Is Finally Getting People Talking About Depression And Sex

    “What did you learn from the first round of interviews?
    [JoEllen Notte:] The first round uncovered a flaw in the initial survey that makes me facepalm to this day! The first survey included a list of possible depression symptoms that included ‘decreased libido,’ but didn’t give any option for the possibility that folks were having more sex when they were depressed—which turned out to be fairly common. I’d bought into the pervasive societal messaging that depressed people don’t want sex and built that bias into the question. The second round of interviews allowed respondents to explain the impact of unmedicated depression on their sex lives in an essay question format, and over 25% reported an upswing in sexual activity. It was huge and made me more diligent about leaving room for people’s stories.”

    Caitlin Murphy,, 8/6/2016