I suffer from Depression and have used antidepressants for several years. I noticed the total dissipation of any sexual feelings from my life. My doctors told me that antidepressants and Depression both cause patients to lose sex drive. Have you done any research into what women in my situation do or if they ever fully recover? It seems women have been sadly silent about this, and being unable to enjoy any sexual experiences or satisfy my partner makes me feel very self-conscious as a woman.
Thank you so much for contacting The Meow University. I was very touched and concerned on this topic of depression and how we manage relationships with a non-existent sex drive. Mental health is often over looked, especially with women because we tend to self diagnose ourselves and leave serious issues untreated. We use excuses like "I don't have time for this", "I'm sensitive today because of PMS", "I just need to pray about it". When there is just a little relief awarded from these home remedies, we dismiss that they actually didn't solve our problem should our sadness returns. Now don't get me wrong, I am all for things such as rest, monitoring hormone changes, prayer, and other forms of meditation, but for some of us suffering from depression, these things will not work without the assistance of a medical professional. For those that believe depression is one of those things that you just "get over" think again. Untreated or unresolved depression has led to various forms of delirium or other deterioration of brain function. The sexiest part of a woman's body is her brain! We must take care of it. To help with this particular issue I enlisted the help of my dear friend and professor Jet Setting Jasmine.
Thank you for asking this very important question and for seeking treatment and support for Depression. Depression adversely affects many Americans and their families; 1 in 10 US Adults report having a depressive disorder (CDC, 2013). Depression has many symptoms, including low or sad mood; changes in appetite, sleep and energy; difficulty concentrating; feelings of worthlessness, shame or guilt; and or loss of interest in activities. The last symptom listed can be one of the leading issues related to changes in intimacy, including sexual activity.
Let’s discuss the question posed and gain insight on depression and intimacy along with ways to remedy, reduce or avoid significant changes in your interpersonal relationships.
Have you done any research into what women in my situation do or if they ever fully recover?
There are a number of articles and resources available about the effects of depression on sex drive; additionally the effects of anti-depressant medication on sex drive. In reviewing the literature available, it may feel as though the Depression itself and treatment of can have the exact same adverse effect on one’s sex life. To find the “loop hole”, I checked in with Jet Setting Jasmine’s medical consultant, Michelle Wan, MD. Dr. Wan and I dialogued about the frustrations women with depression face and the importance of finding the right regiment with your provider and partner that safely treats depression. Dr. Wan shares, “simply put, it is difficult to feel sexy or desirable if you are unhappy. However, many of the pharmaceutical therapies for depression are very well known to cause low libido. It can be very frustrating for both patients and clinicians when the very symptom you aim to treat is exacerbated by the medication.”
Many people with clinical depression recover from the disorder; while there may always bea risk of depressive episodes they can find many ways to cope and or thwart off depression through strategies learned in clinical therapy, personal or professional support groups, and often times the help of medication therapy. With a focus on libido, or sex drive, women can in fact look forward to the return of this desire and enjoyment in the absence of depression. Dr. Wan and I both agree in the importance of prioritizing depressive symptoms and then working on those areas that depression may be affecting, including sexual intimacy. “The risks and benefits of antidepressant medication as it pertains to libido must be weighed and discussed on a case by case basis. If depression is so severe that day to day life activities and interpersonal relationships are suffering, then prompt treatment is certainly necessary” Dr. Wan.
So how should one approach libido with the use of pharmaceutical drugs? “This is where a very honest and open line of communication between patient and physician is key” Dr. Wan. She shares that are in fact some ways that clients, therapist and medical providers can work together to control depression and medication side effects, please take time to discuss with your health provider before making any changes to your current regiment:
• Although tried and true as a mainstay of depression treatment, "traditional" anti-depressants such as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), TCAs (tricyclic antidepressants) and MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) are well known to cause low libido. Changing to newer antidepressants, such as Wellbutrin, can help to counteract unwanted sexual side effects.
• If changing prescriptions is not an option, other options include decreasing medication doses, changing the time of day medication is taken, or the frequency with which the medication are all options you should discuss with your health care provider.
These options will allow you to continue to treat depression while addressing the adverse effects the medicine may have on your libido. “In sum, there are many ways to circumvent the challenge of anti-depressant induced low libido. Sexual health is a part of our general health and well-being and should not be neglected. Do not be embarrassed! If you are considering seeking treatment for depression, good for you! Ask questions about the treatment options best for you, and what changes to anticipate as it pertains to your sexual health and libido" Dr. Wan.
It seems women have been sadly silent about this, and being unable to enjoy any sexual experiences or satisfy my partner makes me feel very self-conscious as a woman.
As a clinical therapist, I do find that both women and men suffer silently with depression in general and even more with how it can be damaging to their relationships. It can be particularly difficult when either partner does not understand depression and its effect on interpersonal relationships including sex drive. One partner may feel neglected and the other embarrassed about their lack of desire to be pleased and or perform sexually. Depression is very common whether formally diagnosed or just described as “the blues”; and it should be communicated as openly as possible to your partner. The symptoms of depression are no different than those of other medical conditions, having true effects on the ability to engage in typical day to day interactions and or activities.
I require my clients to prioritize their treatment goals, and we work together to address them in the order of importance. In most cases, we work to reduce the symptoms of depression—returning to a state of emotional safety, balance and wellness and then work closely on specific areas of concern. While the ultimate goal may be to jump back into being a confident sex wild woman; we focus on the steps necessary to not only get back to sexual wellness but maintain overall wellness. This may include confidence building, recognizing triggers for depression, and tactics to work through a depressive episode. In cases where my client has a significant other, we work to educate the partner on the symptoms of depression, side effects of medication, and tools to stay engaged and supportive.
Without including your partner in what you are experiencing with depression and treatment for depression; you may leave him or her feeling neglected and or helpless. We want to reassure our partner that they are not the problem but can be a part of the healing process. The more
support you have in your inner circle, the better able you will be to work through the depression and toward you goals. If you are seeing a therapist, it may be a great idea to ask for their help in including your partner and working together on ways to maintain a level of intimacy until you libido is back in full gear.
Remember, Depression and treatment for Depression are very serious and you should be commended for getting the help you need. You sound like a very thoughtful and insightful person that deserves a happy and healthy life, including sex life! Continue to work with your medical provider on tweaks to keep the medication from compromising your sexual desires and work closely with your partner on ways to stay connected and supportive while you work through coping with Depression.
Jet Setting Jasmine MSW, MA, LCSW
Sexpert & Intimacy Consultant
Jasmine, Owner of Jet Setting Jasmine LLC. , is a Licensed Clinical Therapist with a Bachelors of Art in Sociology, Masters of Clinical Social Work and Masters in Aging studies. Her background in Integrated Human Studies has allowed an extensive professional career working with adult clients from a solutions-focused model. She is a co-owner of Body Altitudes Health & Fitness Studio—an unique and holistic wellness experience. She is a certified SexPert and contributing product reviewer for California Exotics. She has traveled the country hosting SexEd Workshops and highlighting the more erotic side of sensuality through Fantasy Flight parties. She places a strong emphasis on empowering, enhancing and redefining sexuality for singles and couples. Jasmine's high-spirited & unconventional approach to intimacy issues has allowed client's to explore and address many of their deeply rooted barriers, as well as accept and normalize fetishes. She is a national contributor on the issues of Intimacy & Chronic Illness and Sexuality & Aging.
Jasmine serves as a featured writer to the Journal of Palliative Medicine. She finds it rewarding and absolutely imperative to educate and sensitize health care providers, family members and community providers on the importance of healthy intimacy at all stages of adulthood. Jasmine blends her personal experience and professional background to host workshops & fundraisers for Domestic Violence Shelters, with an effort to redefine self-concepts & identify and nurture healthy sexual/intimate behaviors.
Jasmine, co-host of The Emotion Picture Radio Show & The Mile High Club, provides weekly candid perspective & advice on listener's frequently asked intimate questions, fears and fantasies. She firmly believes that "A Little Sexy Goes A Long Way!"
Call Us: 909-KISS-JAS
Visit Us: www.jetsettingjasmine.com
Jas on the Radio:www.theemotionpicture.com