Depression and Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder
Depression does much more than dampen your mood. It can dampen your sex drive, too. Here's what you need to know to get back on track.
By Wyatt Myers
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
Don't Miss This
Sign Up for OurSexual HealthNewsletter
Thanks for signing up!You might also like these other newsletters:
Clinical depression is a medical illness, characterized by intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness, and worthlessness that last for at least several weeks and interfere with your daily life — both at work and at home. It affects more than 20 million Americans. Dysthymia is a form of depression with less severe symptoms that keeps people from feeling good and functioning at the levels they normally do.
Though both clinical depression and dysthymia affect both physical and mental health in many ways, one commonly overlooked symptom of depression and dysthymia is reduced sex drive, or in more extreme cases, hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD).
The relationship between depression and sex is often a complex one. “Depression and dysthymia have an impact on HSDD, and HSDD is also a common symptom of depression,” says Debra Laino, PhD, a board-certified sex therapist in San Francisco and author ofLove for All Eternity, A Guide to Intimacy. “Many times, when individuals are depressed, a loss of sex drive is a symptom. Other times, loss of sex drive can lead to depression. It can go either way.”
Sex Drive and Depression: Know the Facts
Regardless of which comes first, depression and hypoactive sexual desire disorder seem to go hand in hand. Recent research has certainly shown a connection between depression and sexual complaints.
“According to the National Health and Social Life Survey, approximately 43 percent of women and 30 percent of men in the general population have sexual complaints. In patients with depression, the estimates are much higher at around 70 to 80 percent,” says Michael L. Krychman, MD, executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine in Newport Beach. “Some estimate decreased libido to occur in 50 percent of women with major depression. Others have even increased the estimate.”
How to Treat HSDD and Depression
When it comes to hypoactive sexual desire disorder and depression in women, depression should be treated first. “Standard first-line treatment for depression today is an SSRI (selective-serotonin-reuptake inhibitor) such as Prozac, Zoloft, or Lexapro,” says Dennis K. Lin, MD, physician-in-charge of the Psychosexual Medicine Program at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. “Psychotherapy can also help treat depression. But in cases of severe depression, psychotherapy is not sufficient, and medications are required.”
The reduced sex drive that accompanies depression can also be addressed, adds Dr. Krychman. “Often, a complex, multifaceted approach is needed for both depression and sexual desire changes. Excessive fatigue and psychosocial stressors are important to address first,” he says. “It is common for many people to request complementary and alternative methods to address depression and loss of libido. Yoga, relaxation techniques, and over-the-counter products may be the treatment of choice for some patients.”
The Role of Antidepressants
Contributing further to this problem is the fact that antidepressants, the medications that doctors use to treat depression, can actually cause reduced sexual desire. “One of the most common side effects of SSRI antidepressants is low libido,” says Dr. Lin. “However, this is not to be confused with HSDD, which is a separate and independent sexual disorder.”
The good news when it comes to antidepressants and low libido is that one of the newest ones actually seems to combat reduced sex drive in women and depression. “A newer antidepressant, Wellbutrin, is not associated with the sexual side effects often experienced by patients using SSRI antidepressants,” says Genie James, executive director of the Natural Hormone Institute and chief executive officer of Dr. Randolph’s Ageless and Wellness Medical Center in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. “Clinical studies have found that when Wellbutrin was used as a treatment for HSDD, one-third of the women showed [an] increase in libido and sexual fantasies.”
If you’re on antidepressants and you think they might be contributing to reduced sexual desire, James recommends asking your doctor about Wellbutrin.
Video: Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder: Referral to a Specialist
Here Are the 2019 Oscar Nominations In Full
How to Speak Basic Croatian
How to Stay up All Night (for Teens)
Frisco 21-in Cat Scratching Post with Toy, Brown
How to Fund College Without a College Savings Fund
Desperation Dinners: Red Lentil Soup with Spinach and Lemon
5 Ways to Look Younger Without Really Trying
How to Post an Apartment for Rent on Zillow
How to Understand Existentialist Philosophy
How to Treat a Credit Card Addiction
Does Yerba Mate Tea Cause Mouth Cancer
8 Body Products That Make Us Feel Better Naked