Depression and Sexual Relations

We know very little about depression, and even less if we stop to think about the amount of myths that circulate about it. Well, one of the aspects that most influences is sexual relations and in this article we talk about it.


Depression, that invisible disease covered with prejudices that are sustained thanks to ignorance, affects all the spheres of a person’s life: work or academic, family, social…, and of course, also affects the most intimate sphere, that of sexuality and, specifically, sexual relations.

Despite what many people may believe, depression is not synonymous with being extremely sad. Beyond the signs or symptoms described accurately by the manuals of psychopathology, depression is experienced as if something prevented us from performing our daily tasks and activities.

In fact, the World Health Organization, in this same line, designed a video in which they illustrated this idea. Said video, called I had a dog, was called depression, it represented a man who wanted to do his chores but a dog prevented him constantly, not letting him get out of bed, pulling him, etc.

Depression and sexual relations: how do they relate?

Depression conditions sexual relationships in very different ways, but especially affects those dynamics that occur within a couple because there is an emotional bond, a more intimate communication, a present and future commitment and, after all, a common life In the couple, when one of the members is immersed in a depressive process, a series of changes take place:

  • Low Sexual or erotic desire. It is the main affected, as it is the motor that moves us to have a sexual relationship. Pleasure is very reduced if there is not previously a desire, more or less specific, more or less concrete, but a desire that predisposes to have an intimate relationship. The loss of motivation in all vital areas is reflected especially in the loss or reduction of sexual or erotic desire that directly affects sexual relationships.
  • Inability to create erotic fantasies. It is the consequence of the loss of desire, while the fantasies are associated with it. If having a sexual relationship was like eating a cheesecake, the sexual desire would correspond with the ingredients and sexual fantasies would be the different ways of combining these ingredients to create something that is going to be enjoyed.
  • Deficits in assertiveness. Assertiveness is the correct way to communicate our desires, without giving in to any pressure and without expressing what we want (or do not want) in an aggressive way. Often, people with depression generate a great sense of guilt for not meeting the expectations of others and, in turn, this generates a passive communication response, as a compensatory mechanism.

The relationship between depression and sexual relationships can take many forms.

In an intimate context, people have the ability to decide when to have sex and when not to have sex. In fact, it often happens that in a couple it happens that one person wants to have sex and the other does not. But when a person has depression, usually has more difficulty expressing their lack of sexual desire and resort to this compensatory mechanism, which is to give in to the desire to have sex with the other partner.

Alteration of relationships with oneself or oneself. Although we speak in terms of a couple, self-stimulation deserves special consideration, since it is a very important part of us, a source of self-knowledge, exploration and pleasure that we can access in our privacy. These types of relationships are also affected when we suffer from depression. In fact, it is not uncommon for the frequency of masturbation to decrease considerably.
The relationship between depression and sexual relations is a fact, since low mood affects sexual desire and the ability to create fantasies.

My partner has depression, how to act?

It is important to remember that depressed people do not want to be, and would like to have a different level of activity, a different mood and enjoy sex. Although each depressive process presents a series of variables that endow it with idiosyncrasy, it would be worth highlighting a series of ideas in the case that our partner was going through a depression:

  • Without judgments. The last thing a person with depression needs from their partner is that this one question their behavior, their decisions or their rhythms. Doubting or prejudging will only cause more pain in the depressed person, in addition to frustration and, the aforementioned and very present guilt. Issuing this type of judgment when our partner expresses his lack of desire before a sexual relationship can cause a particularly significant discomfort.
  • No pressure. The ideal is to accompany your partner, but respecting their rhythms and spaces. Sometimes your partner will need company, sometimes you will need to be alone, other times you will not feel like talking, others will simply want to cry accompanied… This respect has to be shown in the most intimate setting, and not confuse your mood with a lack of desire towards the couple, that is, to assume that not wanting to have relationships responds to a depressive process, not to a personal issue.
  • Show availability. Not putting pressure on our partner does not mean disregarding it. It is important to make our partners understand that we are giving them the space they need and respecting their rhythms deeply while accompanying them. This accompaniment can be expressed explicitly through phrases such as “if you need to talk, just tell me”.
  • Ask for help. More and more people with depression who resort to the help of a psychologist or a psychologist, and we know that this decision is usually not easy, or immediate. Therefore, it is important to show support to our partner when making that decision, and even show availability to go with her, if necessary.

Depression affects more than 300 million people worldwide according to the World Health Organization. In addition, we know that what many value as an expense becomes more of an investment if we decide to put ourselves in the hands of a psychologist.

Even with professional help, overcoming it is not an easy process. However, if we have a partner who understands the situation and respects it, especially in the most intimate setting, their support will be very valuable, as well as a variable that helps that depression to be left behind much earlier.