Extensive research shows that depression and anxiety are closely linked to sexual difficulties in women. Numerous studies have shown that women with sexual problems (and their partners) are more likely to express symptoms of clinical depression, anxiety and relationship distress than is normally expected to be found within the general population. Sexual difficulties can be the result of depression and anxiety but they can also lead to these conditions.
The problem is, however, that when it comes to their own experiences of depression and anxiety, women’s sexual difficulties are often last to be considered.
Depression often shows itself differently in women than in men. Women’s mood, stress and anxiety levels are very closely linked to their body’s sexual responses. While Men can maintain their physical sexual interest and arousal, a woman’s emotional state may be so consuming that it overwhelms her entire sexual appetite. The usual energy rush and comforting embrace of sexual intimacy may not satisfy the way it used to.
Women experiencing depression and/or anxiety may feel overwhelmed by feelings of sadness, hopelessness or helplessness. Dealing with the issues and challenges of everyday life becomes extremely difficult. Depression sufferers often find themselves unexpectedly getting teary or sad, or being too exhausted to accomplish tasks most would find easy.
Some women experience a lack of energy to socialise on any level with family or friends. Sleeplessness, decrease in general hygienic practices and self-esteem are common. People suffering from depression describe their feelings as being trapped, isolated, hopeless and desperately sad.
What is often overlooked by many health professionals is that depression and/or anxiety can lead to a multitude of sexual problems including low sex drive (lack of libido), arousal and lubrication difficulties, as well as relationship breakdown. Some anti-depression medications can have an adverse effect on arousal, lubrication and ability to orgasm.
Depression and anxiety is traditionally treated by qualified ‘generalist’ psychologists, however sexual issues experienced along with mental health issues are often deemed of lesser importance and overlooked, especially for women. These issues often require specific consideration that most ‘generalist’ psychologists are ill-equipped or unwilling to handle.
Women suffer, and so do their partners
Partners of women experiencing depression and anxiety are often majorly affected as well. Decreased levels of sexual interest as a result of these issues often leads to decreases in receptivity to a partner’s sexual advances and less frequent sexual activity overall. Some partner’s may take on more of a carer role which leaves sexual intimacy as a last priority. Ultimately, partners also tend to experience decreased sexual interest and satisfaction. This may lead to tension and discord within relationships and/or relationship breakdown.
So what can a FemTherapy Clinic sex therapist do to help?
Here at the FemTherapy Clinic, each psychologist we employ has specialist sexual health training as well as expertise in treating mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. We specialise not only in treating women with sexual dysfunction issues (such as those outlined within this website), but also have extensive experience in providing psychological therapies that provide long-term relief and practical resolution for what are frequently life-long, mentally distressing, sexual and psychological conditions.
If you or your partner is experiencing depression or anxiety and it is affecting your sex life, we can help.