Erectile dysfunction (ED) is not a simple problem. Instead, it’s a complex, layered condition that can affect mental health and cause many other problems if left untreated. The stress and unhappiness that accompanies ED can be just as destructive as the condition itself, leading to chronic feelings of despair. On top of that, ED can also cause feelings of embarrassment, guilt, and low self-esteem. For that reason, it’s no wonder that studies show erectile dysfunction is linked to depression.
Let’s dive deeper into the connection between erectile dysfunction and depression and possible ways to handle it.
Erectile dysfunction and depression
What is the link between erectile dysfunction and your mental health? If you have ever experienced erectile dysfunction (ED), you might be hit with a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions just thinking about it. You might experience a sinking feeling as you think about not being able to pleasure your partner and the possibility of it happening again. ED and depression can occur cyclically; in other words, ED can cause depression and vice versa.
On a deeper level, sexual functions are interlinked with the functions of the rest of the body. Things like hormones, other medical conditions, and the aging process can all affect sex drive and the ability to get or maintain an erection. However, many of the problem associated with ED is mental and psychological.
Depression is caused by an underlying imbalance of chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin. This imbalance can cause other mental health issues like anxiety and stress, worsening ED. It’s important to truly identify the root cause of the problem to determine the best treatment options.
Managing ED and depression
A healthcare provider will generally treat ED by taking into account multiple factors. Drug and non-drug treatments are available to help treat ED and depression. Let’s take a look at some possible solutions.
Drug treatments for ED are available. Many men find that drugs like Viagra (sildenafil) or Cialis (tadalafil) help them overcome their ED. Viagra and Cialis are part of a class of drugs called phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors, and they work by improving blood flow to the penis. Using a PDE5 inhibitor can treat ED and help improve confidence in the bedroom.
In some cases, if you are diagnosed with depression, a healthcare provider can prescribe an antidepressant-like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Antidepressants can help balance the chemicals in your brain that may be contributing to a chronically depressed mood. In other cases, a healthcare provider may look at other medical conditions, like diabetes, causing ED and subsequent depression.
Non-drug treatments for ED and depression may include talk therapy, acupuncture, and meditation. Talk therapy involves finding the root of the thoughts and behaviors causing ED. A professional can help you identify and overcome any psychological barriers causing ED. Other therapies like acupuncture may help relieve stress. Mindfulness and meditation may also be helpful strategies to help reduce stress and anxiety causing ED.
Talk to your doctor.
Whatever the case may be, you should always consult with your doctor if you’re feeling depressed with ED. If you’re experiencing severe emotional distress, you can always contact Lifeline to immediately connect to a support line. A healthcare professional can help you determine the best treatment option for you, whether drug treatment, non-drug treatment, or both. If you experience ED and depression, there’s hope, and effective treatments are readily available.