Erectile Dysfunction and Depression: A Vicious Cycle
Good sex can play a huge part in our day-to-day happiness. One of the most natural and enjoyable things in the world, consenting sex with your partner can release endorphins which make you feel good, provide you with a good workout, bring you closer to your significant other, improve your sleep, relieve stress and boost your self esteem.
The male erection has long been a symbol of power and status. It is no wonder then, that when a man experiences erectile dysfunction, the loss of both a healthy sex life and the ultimate symbol of masculinity can be detrimental to your mental health.
And the link between erectile dysfunction and depression appears to go both ways, with one study finding that men with depression have a 39% higher risk of erectile dysfunction while men with erectile dysfunction are almost three times more likely to have depression than men who have no issues getting and maintaining an erection. While this can seem daunting, it’s important to note that erectile dysfunction is common, with one in four Australian men reporting erectile dysfunction; and the good news is, it’s a treatable condition.
Causes and Risk Factors
Erectile dysfunction can manifest itself in one of three ways; problems getting an erection, problems maintaining an erection and diminished sexual desire, and the list of potential causes of these issues can be as long as your, ahem, member. Physical causes of erectile dysfunction can include health problems such as:
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Hormonal imbalances
- Drug (including prescription drug) and alcohol use
- Surgery or injuries which affect the pelvic area
Erectile dysfunction can also be a side effect of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. This can become a vicious cycle in that small problems with sexual dysfunction can lead to heightened anxiety, which then exacerbates the initial dysfunction. You may be at higher risk for erectile dysfunction if:
- You already experience depression, anxiety or are experiencing low self esteem
- Your lifestyle is less than healthy; not engaging in regular exercise, consuming excessive amounts of drugs or alcohol or having a poor diet, low in nutrients
- You are experiencing life events which are traumatic or stressful (such as change of job, a death in the family or birth of a child)
- You have been prescribed antidepressants
As erectile dysfunction can have a major impact on both your intimate relationships and mental health, it is important to flag with your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of either sexual dysfunction or feelings of depression or anxiety. While all these conditions can be diagnosed by your GP, psychologist or psychiatrist it is important for them to be hyper aware of your increased risk of one if you are experiencing the other.
- Prevention is always better than cure; so caring for your overall health is a great place to start when working to combat erectile dysfunction. This can be anything from making sure you have a regular exercise routine to consuming plenty of nutrient dense foods and avoiding substances like tobacco and alcohol. Reducing your intake of toxic substances, losing weight and subsequently boosting your self-esteem can also bolster your sexual desire. As erectile dysfunction and mental health are so closely linked too, it is also important to care for your emotional health in the same way you would your physical health. You can do this by making time to do things that make you happy, avoiding stressful situations and working to think positively by meditating and communicating clearly with friends and family.
- Treating existing conditions. As previously mentioned, various physical conditions can lead to erectile dysfunction. Treatment of these conditions can often relieve this sexual dysfunction. However, you may be unaware of these issues that are impacting on your sex life, so being tested for underlying conditions can also be a good idea when experiencing erectile dysfunction. Treatment of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety by seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist can also help to alleviate problems with erectile dysfunction.
- Some medications can help to treat erectile dysfunction. These contain nitric oxide, a vasodilator, which causes blood vessels to widen which in turn increases blood flow throughout your body. These medications, in conjunction with sexual stimulation, allow you to easily get, and maintain, an erection.
It’s easy to link sexual performance to other parts of your life, such as your overall confidence, a strong relationship with your partner and even success at work. Consequently, it isn’t hard to see how erectile dysfunction could lead to lower self esteem and diminished mental health. This can force you into a vicious cycle with depression leading to erectile dysfunction and erectile dysfunction having the capacity to lead to depression.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom, with a happy and successful sex life being within reach once you understand that erectile dysfunction is a common issue amongst Australian men. All you need to do to achieve the sex life you desire is to take control of your own health and seek treatment for any issues you may be having.
At His Clinic, we make seeking treatment for ED easy. All you have to do is fill out a simple medical form and you’ll instantly find out if you’re approved by one of our Australian doctors to purchase ED medication online.
Learn more about E.D.
Reasonable care has been taken to provide accurate information at the time of creation but this is for informational purposes only.
This information is not intended to substitute medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to manage or diagnose a medical condition.
This information is not intended for use in an emergency. If you are suffering an acute illness, overdose, or emergency condition, call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance