Anyone who is dealing with depression will probably tell you that it has some negative effects on people’s sex lives. Cosmopolitan.com recently explored the issue with three women who are in various stages of living with depression and more importantly, some of the pharmaceuticals used to treat the problem.
It’s no secret that these drugs typically have negative side effects when it comes to sex, either in desire to have it at all, or in being able to reach an orgasm. The latter can apply to women as well as men. Personally, I’ve been asked for advice on how to “bring back that spark” by many people – both men and women – who are battling side effects of anti-depressants or are simply trying to battle the effects of depression itself on their sex lives.
Of course, the first thing that I always say, and will repeat here, is that people need to consult their physicians about any changes to prescription medications. However, with the increasing number of states which are allowing the use of medical marijuana for the treatment of depression, depending on where people may reside, they may want to explore those options with an alternative medicine practitioner who has been approved for giving advice on the therapeutic use of that drug.
Medical formalities aside, there are some purely non-medicinal options that may be helpful for some people.
Erotic Hypnosis – This is an umbrella term of sorts that can cover several things, from simple sensory deprivation techniques through actually inducing altered states of consciousness. The latter is what most people think of, along with hypnotic suggestion. For the purposes here, I typically suggest the simple sensory deprivation, primarily with noise reducing headphones and relaxing or “mind-numbing” music. This is particularly useful for people who have issues with quieting their thoughts during sex, or feel that their minds are getting in the way of reaching an orgasm. The music serves as a kind of short-circuiting mechanism for most people, and focus on sex can be intensified further by also being unable to see – by either closing eyes or using a blindfold of some kind. While hypnotic suggestion may also be helpful, it is not a good idea for people to dabble with, particularly with anyone who may be suffering from depression or anxiety due to past trauma. Trigger warnings are commonly mentioned today in improper contexts – this is the real context that people really do need to avoid. The point is to help, not harm.
Orgasms – This might sound counter-intuitive, or even callous. People who have trouble having orgasms probably don’t want to hear that they need to try to have more orgasms. However, that is exactly what I have told at least a few people who are dealing with depression and anxiety. Set aside specific times to masturbate each day, or every other day. While some have initially reported having difficulty reaching orgasms at first, eventually most have been successful at it on a regular basis. Some have used meditation techniques, to clear their minds for this. Depression and the pharmaceuticals used to treat it can easily chemically derail a person’s ability to have orgasms easily. Because the chemicals released in the brain and body during and after an orgasm actually are known to help alleviate depression and anxiety, it is a good idea to continually attempt to have orgasms, regardless of whether or not one is actually “in the mood.” For some people, this does help to rebuild the libido, because the body relearns what it already knew before it was dealing with the medications and depression – that pleasure is a cure to many ills all by itself.
Embrace passion – This is not necessarily about sex, and honestly, I often suggest that this be about anything but sexual activity. Find something to be passionate about, and do it. This can be anything, from painting, to running, or anything in between. While it might be better to choose something that includes interaction with others, this can also be a solitary pursuit. No matter what, set aside time each week to just do it, and stick to that schedule, even when you feel like burying yourself under the blankets and going back to sleep. Again, this is about reteaching the mind and body to crave activities that will release depression fighting chemicals in the body.
The problems faced by people who are dealing with depression, anxiety, and the side effects of medications used to treat them are two-fold – it is a battle against the underlying problem, and the chemicals used. While the medications are often a lifeline for many people and absolutely necessary for them to function in life, they also serve to numb pain. Unfortunately, that numbing is not limited to just pain, and often numbs the desire for some of the natural means that people already have within themselves to combat depression and anxiety in the first place. In a perfect world, that wouldn’t be the case. The bottom line here is that the individual needs to decide whether or not sex and any other pleasurable activities are worth working to be able enjoy again. If a person decides it truly is worth it, the suggestions here may help, but it may also require adjusting medication or seeking alternatives outside the realm of traditional psychiatry. Again, no matter what, if a person plans to change or attempt to get off medications for these problems, it should be done with the supervision of physicians or licensed alternative medicine practitioners.