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Can depression cause erectile dysfunction? Does having ED mean that depression is near? Is there a connect between sex drive, libido and depression?
The cultural conversation regarding what depression looks like and how it should be handled has shifted in many positive ways over the past decade.
Commonly held assumptions that those battling the disease would be obviously spotted through downtrodden expressions and unkempt outfits or hygiene have been shattered. Furthermore, the hurtful stereotype that men in particular can just power through depression has mercifully been disproven.
The fact is, those dealing with depression can appear every bit as happy and successful as those who aren’t.The same goes for men who are experiencing erectile dysfunction. On the surface, nothing may appear amiss to the casual observer—and chances are, the afflicted won’t draw purposeful attention to their struggles. However, that doesn’t make either of these medical conditions less real.
Are Depression and ED Linked?
Scientific observation has discovered a relationship between erectile dysfunction and depression. From a logical standpoint, men dealing with ED are likely to also be experiencing mental and emotional anguish over their bodies betraying its nature. Anger, frustration, sadness, and insecurities are all valid emotions that arise as a result of ED. If left unchecked, the culmination of these emotions can graduate to clinically-diagnosed depression.
Going beyond logical conclusions, it becomes a matter of how our bodies react to different forms of stress. Different kinds of stress beget different consequences and adrenal reactions. For example, exercise—and sex—are the healthy kind of sex, which release testosterone. Bad stress on the other hand is not only counterproductive to the manufacturing of testosterone, but also releases cortisol.
One of the main features of cortisol is that it constricts blood vessels, rather than relaxing them. This makes achieving or sustaining an erection nearly impossible when too much cortisol is present, or builds over time. This can lead to low T, which is also common in men who are fighting erectile dysfunction and depression.
Beginning to see the connection?
What’s the Science Behind Depression and ED?
The complicated and intricate relationship between ED and depression has been fairly well established over time. It isn’t a one-way street; one diagnosis can lead to the other, and vice versa. This is perhaps why it’s so common for the two to be linked—in fact, research suggests that as many as one in four men with ED also have depression.
Perhaps more alarming is that men only experiencing a single one of these ailments may soon encounter the other. A professional review of more than 40 separate studies covering nearly 200,000 individual men found that those with depression were at a 40% higher risk of experiencing ED. On the opposite side, men with erectile dysfunction were three times as likely to develop depression.
Considering this, if you’re already challenged by either depression or ED, a consultation with your doctor and a screening for the other is highly recommended.
When it comes to erectile dysfunction specifically, it’s important to keep in mind that there may potentially be other contributing causes to consider. Factors such as being overweight or diabetic, struggles with heart disease and unhealthy lifestyle choices like smoking, or drug and alcohol abuse can all be linked to ED. However, if these can be ruled out, and you are medically diagnosed with depression, then it’s likely that treating your mental health will also aid in the treatment of your ED.
Does My ED Also Mean I Have Depression?
While erectile dysfunction is undoubtedly a frustrating hurdle to overcome, depression is a much more far-reaching issue, as it affects all aspects of our lives outside of the bedroom. Depression is characterized by constant sadness, an incessant feeling of hopelessness, and a pessimistic outlook. Other symptoms include:
- Low self-esteem
- Loss of interest in hobbies or other activities
- Change in appetite
- Sleep issues
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Suicidal thoughts
Depression is a legitimate mental illness. It isn’t a matter of pulling yourself together, snapping out of it, or soldiering through. Ignoring its treatment could result in depression lasting indefinitely.
There are several signs men and their partners should be on the lookout for should there be a suspicion of depression. While ED can be an indicator, it’s also a common problem and does not automatically mean one is or will become depressed. However, if erectile dysfunction accompanies, or stems from:
- Loss of sexual appetite or desire
- A traumatic life event
- Anxiety, frustration, and stress
- Negative feelings about yourself
Then there is a strong possibility that an individual may be experiencing the effects of depression as well.
How To Confront Depression and ED
The absolute most important thing to remember when confronting both depression and ED is that they are not personal failings. Men should never be ashamed or embarrassed to discuss either of these issues with their doctor or partner. Too many attempt to push through these challenges on their own.
However, the first step toward recovery is relatively simple; only requiring a slightly uncomfortable conversation with a medical professional, and going through a complete physical evaluation and screening.
Don’t discount the support you can find from your partner, either. They’ll likely be more than willing to accompany and help you on your journey, and no doubt want you to get healthy just as quickly and as much as you do.
Depression and erectile dysfunction may often come together, but you don’t have to fight them alone. The medical professionals at Prime Men’s Medical Center specialize in treating conditions that impact men’s health. Our concierge approach positions your unique case at the center of our focus. We don’t just give you a pill for ED and send you on your way. We treat the underlying issues that led to conditions such as ED, Low Testosterone, and more. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.