Sex and Depression – two stigmas collide
Sex and depression are both subjects that we don’t talk enough about.
Let’s talk about sex, baby
Okay, within Alternative-Sexuality communities, we do talk a lot about sex. We recognise that it is an important aspect of our identity. However, society at large isn’t giving it enough attention. Generally, people are discouraged from discussing their sex lives and this includes having frank discussions with medical professionals. We have come to feel shame when we have a sexual disorder and often the very presence of a dysfunctional sexual performance is perceived as being an indictment on our personhood. While we closely link our sexual health with our overall view of self, so many of us are hesitant, or incapable, of openly discussing our sexuality or sexual function.
And that depression thing too
Mental illness is another topic that is getting increased attention. There are awareness campaigns, such as Bell’s “Let’s Talk”, which occurred a few weeks ago. But mental health awareness can’t be an annual one-day affair. We need to normalise mental health issues and destigmatize the illness that so many of us are affected by. It needs to be a priority, especially for those of us who suffer from depression.
According to the World Health Organization, depression impacts 350 million people worldwide. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that women are particularly at risk for depression, with a 70 percent greater likelihood of depression than men. Since Prozac launched in the 1980s, antidepressant medications have become a blockbuster business. But a study conducted by Johns Hopkins found that 30-70 percent of those being treated with antidepressant medications will experience some form of sexual side effects. 1) Let’s Talk About Sex and Depression by JoEllen Notte for Bitch Media
What the Johns Hopkins study said
While the Johns Hopkins study is no longer available on their site, I was able to find the relevant excerpt on-line. It reads as follows:
While sexual dysfunction is a frequent symptom of depression itself (and successful treatment of depression may eliminate it), antidepressant medication can sometimes worsen or even cause sexual problems. In fact, sexual dysfunction is a potential side effect of all classes of antidepressants.
Between 30% and 70% of people who take antidepressant medications experience sexual problems, which can begin within the first week to several months after starting treatment. Antidepressant-related sexual dysfunction can affect almost any aspect of your sex life. In men, it frequently causes erectile dysfunction (the inability to achieve or sustain an erection), and in women, antidepressants may cause vaginal dryness and decreased sensation in the genitals. In both genders, antidepressants can diminish sex drive and make achieving orgasm difficult or impossible.
Sexual dysfunction due to any cause, including antidepressants, can have effects that range far beyond the bedroom, including psychological distress and a decrease in self-esteem and overall quality of life. 2)http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/beyondblue/2010/03/antidepressants-and-sex-what-t.html
For many suffering from mental illness, sex and depression go hand-in-hand and it can feed into a vicious cycle.
Getting the conversation started
JoEllen Notte will be joining me on Stereo-Typed to discuss her research into the intersection of these two stigmatised topics. During the discussion, we will talk about:
- What effects can depression have on someone’s sex life?
- What the hell are “sexual side effects” when it comes to antidepressants?
- Also, why doesn’t the medical and pharmaceutical community see this as a “quality of life issue”?
Additionally, we will discuss some tips on coping with sex and depression in a constructive way, both as individuals who are affected by mental illness and within a relationship context.
- When it comes to sex and depression, should we “just do it”?
- How can we, as individuals, overcome some of the “sexual side effects” associated with antidepressants?
- What can we do to help our non-depressed partners understand what we are feeling?
- And, what can our non-depressed partners do to support us as well as supporting themselves?
Depression does not mean the end of sex. A diagnosis doesn’t mean you are broken or remove you from the viable relationship pool. You can have a sex life while working through your depressive episodes.
Join us live or stream the archive afterwards
Join JoEllen and me on February 22, 2017, at 7 pm eastern as we have a discussion about sex and depression, a conversation that needs to happen more often. JoEllen has started the dialogue, let’s continue it.
The following books, theories and yes, even a video game, were mentioned in the show. They are all valuable tools for navigating depression and relationships:
- Let Me Count The Ways by Marty Klein and Riki Robbins
- Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski
- Ring Theory (Comfort In, Dump Out)
- Spoon Theory, “But you don’t look sick” by Christine Miserandino
- Depression Quest – Do not play this while in a depressive episode!
- The toy she recommended: Hot Octopuss Pulse
Links relevant to JoEllen Notte
- The current survey – if you are in her targeted demographic (i.e. POC), let your voice be heard!
- Website/Blog – Redhead Bedhead
- Patreon page for The Monster Under The Bed
A little bit about:
Click on the images to see a brief bio and contact information for JoEllen Notte and me.
Stream the archive now:
Subscribe to Stereo-Typed on your favourite podcast app.
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|1.||↑||Let’s Talk About Sex and Depression by JoEllen Notte for Bitch Media|