How Are Depression And Anxiety Related To Erectile Dysfunction
Theres good stress and bad stress when it comes to sexual performance, and depression and anxiety fall under the latter. When your brain experiences healthy stress for example, from exercise, a new relationship, or a promotion at work your body tends to release testosterone. When youre sexually stimulated, that extra testosterone helps to relax the blood vessels in your penis and cause an erection.
However, when your brain is under unhealthy stress for example, from traumatic events, relationship problems, or work stress your body can release a hormone called cortisol instead. Cortisol constricts the blood vessels in your penis. When blood cant flow properly to your penis, thats when you may have difficulty achieving an erection.
Over time, chronic stress the amount of testosterone your body makes. Low testosterone, also known as low T, is common in men with mental health issues like depression and anxiety who experience erectile dysfunction.
Stress And Erectile Dysfunction
Can stress cause erectile dysfunction? Discover everything you need to know in this comprehensive article.
Muscle tension. Racing thoughts. Excessive worry. Fear. Nausea. Headaches. Most of us feel some level of stress daily. But, did you know that stress can lead to psychological erectile dysfunction ?
Erectile dysfunction is incredibly common. How common is ED? One study estimated that about 18 million men suffer from ED in America alone! In reality, however, the true number is likely far higher, given that us men tend to under-report sexual issues!
The risk for erectile dysfunction increases withage but, younger men are also at risk. According to the Massachusetts MaleAging Study at the ageof 40, just under half of all men had ED! So, younger guys certainly arentimmune even in people who are fit and healthy.
Erectile dysfunction can be caused by a variety of factors. For some, the cause of erectile dysfunction is physical. At times, however, ED can be caused by psychological factors, which we review in a little more detail down below.
Experts suggest that 10% to 20% of all erectile dysfunction cases are caused by psychological factors, which we call psychological erectile dysfunction.;
Mental Blocks That Impede Erections
Erectile dysfunction is a medical term that describes the inability to achieve and/or maintain an erection adequate for sexual function. This condition, sometimes called mental impotence, is one of the most common sexual issues for men and it increases with age. It is estimated between 15 to 30 million American men suffer from ED.
But just because youre below a certain age doesnt mean youre safe. According to a study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine, one out of every four erectile dysfunction patients is under 40 years old. With increasing ED rates have during the last twenty to thirty years, especially among younger men, erectile dysfunction treatment has become a hot subject.
Before we delve into the relationship between the mind and the penis, these videos can catch you up on how the most popular and cutting edge treatments work on a physiological level:
Stress And Anxiety Frequently Occur Together
Its not unusual for someone to face stress and anxiety simultaneously. You get anxious about the things that stress you out, and stressed about the things that make you anxious. It creates a constant negative feedback loop that desperately requires relief.;
Dont take erectile dysfunction medication just to put a bandage on the problem. The entirety of the issue needs to be addressed for your overall health and wellbeing. You deserve to feel better in all areas of your life, and while sex is undoubtedly a great mood booster, it wont change the circumstances that give you stress or anxiety symptoms.
How To Overcome Impotence From Anxiety
Overcoming this impotence is a two-step process. The first is to try to ensure that sex is natural for you again, and something that creates a positive emotion. This involves talking to your partner, and making sure they understand that you have anxiety and it’s affected your libido.
Many men try to keep it to themselves and hope it doesn’t happen, but that just creates more fear and, ultimately, makes it more likely that you’ll experience impotence. You are going to need to be open with your partner about the problem, and explain that your anxiety has affected you. Once you’ve done that, there are several things you can try:
This is the first step – to just enjoy activities that take some of the pressure of you so that you can get used to intimacy being more natural. It has to feel like something that isn’t all about your impotence – a way that you spend time with someone else. It needs to also be something that doesn’t cause significant anxiety every time, because even if you reduce anxiety you may still experience it in the bedroom.
The second step is simply reducing your anxiety. Since your impotency is the result of anxiety, reducing that anxiety can help you effectively stop the impotence from occurring. Ultimately, you may also want to consider consulting a sex therapist or a doctor, in order to assess whether your impotence is being caused by factors other than anxiety.
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Treatment Options For Sexual Performance Anxiety
Because performance anxiety can occur for a variety of reasons, treatment usually focuses on identifying and solving the factor or factors that caused the anxiety in the first place.
Sometimes, performance anxiety may solve itself as you become more familiar and comfortable with your sexual partner. In other cases, performance anxiety may disappear as you identify and manage sources of stress in your life.
If sexual performance anxiety does not resolve on its own, there are other treatment options available.
Stress And Erectile Function
When you feel stress, your body increases its adrenaline output to move more oxygenated blood to your muscles, lungs, and brains resulting in the flight, fight, or freeze response. Problems happen when your body processes constant stress as you move through the flight, fight, or freeze response.
Mental health conditions like stress and anxiety affect how the brain signals your bodys physical response. Stress and anxiety interrupt how the brain sends messages to the penis to allow extra blood flow, affecting your sexual performance.
Having ED can also lead to stress and anxiety and is a vicious cycle. Stress and anxiety cause erectile dysfunction and having erectile dysfunction causes stress and anxiety. You could say that, in a sense, erectile problems become a self-perpetuating sexual dysfunction.
Simple Methods Of Primary Care Counselling
Sexual anxiety counselling can be performed in a primary care setting using simple guidelines. The key objectives are to explain ED fully to the patients in order to reduce worry related to lack of knowledge; reassure the patient that their problems are not unique and that they can be overcome and finally to propose positive action that the patient and partner can take to help overcome the problems .
Physiological Anxiety And Cognitive Interference
What do these studies tell us? What can we learn from these seemingly conflicting findings? To start, they show us that physiological anxiety produces different results in different people. This is partially due to personal history. Previous experiences of sexual dysfunction increase its likelihood in response to anxiety. In addition, a person’s thought process can have a major impact on the likelihood of experiencing sexual dysfunction.
Cognitive interference is the process by which thoughts and expectations can negatively affect the body’s ability to regulate itself. Cognitive interference plays a major role in sexual dysfunction6. This is best exhibited by research that has shown an effect of sexual expectations on sexual functioning7: When people expect to achieve normative sexual response, they are more likely to do so than when they expect sexual dysfunction. Certain people are more likely to expect sexual dysfunction, or at least have concerns about their sexual functioning, than are others. Two major psychological sources influence how much people anticipate sexual dysfunction: anxiety and depression.
Anxiety Erectile Dysfunction And Cheap Dopamine
This ones less about your mindset and more about your behavior. Both sexual desire and sexual performance rely on dopamine.
Its the hormone your body releases when it experiences sexual stimuli. In a normal system, you see something that excites you. Your body releases dopamine.
And this dopamine sets off a chain reaction that results in an erect penis.
But your body can develop a dopamine tolerance just like alcoholics develop an alcohol tolerance. Too much dopamine, too often, causes this.
Easy access to easy dopamine stimulators porn, video games, long binge sessions on Netflix, aimless web surfing, and social media can all contribute to dopamine tolerance.
And once this happens, the next time you get hit by a set of sexual stimuli, it might not cause you to uptake;enough dopamine for a long, strong erection.
Like the other items on this list, the solution is simple if not entirely easy.
Just scale back on your accessing cheap dopamine. Turn off the Netflix and go out with friends.; Stop using porn to get off.; Stop wasting so much time on Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram.
Dopamine tolerance is reversible, and you reverse it by spending less time chasing the cheap stuff and more time going after clean dopamine.
And what is clean dopamine?
Pretty much any hobby or habit that gets you off the couch, away from electronics and in front of real live human beings qualifies as clean.
Ifthat hobby or habit makes you feel good inside once youre finished.
How Does Stress And Anxiety Cause Erectile Dysfunction
While there are many physical conditions that can cause or are pointed to by ED, we cant ignore the enormous role that stress plays into it.
When you feel stress, your body makes adrenaline increases in your heart rate to move more oxygenated blood to your muscles, lungs and brains to make you faster, stronger and creates the flight fight and freeze response. Problems happen when your body processes constant stress as you move through the flight, fight and freeze response.
Mental health conditions like stress and anxiety affect how the brain signals your bodys physical response. Stress and anxiety interrupt how the brain sends messages to the penis to allow extra blood flow, affecting your sexual performance. So, can stress cause erectile dysfunction?
Having erectile dysfunction can also lead to stress and anxiety and is a vicious cycle.; Stress and anxiety cause erectile dysfunction and having erectile dysfunction causes stress and anxiety. You could say that, in a sense, impotence becomes a self-perpetuating sexual dysfunction.
Stress and anxiety may lead to certain lifestyle factors that contribute to or cause ED, including:
Illicit drugs use
A sedentary lifestyle
Erectile Dysfunction: Psychological Causes
Psychological factors are responsible for about 10%-20% of all cases of erectile dysfunction, or ED. It is often a secondary reaction to an underlying physical cause. In some cases, the psychological effects of ED may stem from childhood abuse or sexual trauma. However, the most common psychological causes of ED include:
- Stress: Stress can be job-related, money-related, or the result of marital problems, among other factors.
- Anxiety: Once a man experiences ED, they may become overly worried that the problem will happen again. This can lead to “performance anxiety,” or a fear of sexual failure, and consistently lead to ED.
- Guilt: A man may feel guilty that they are not satisfying their partner.
- Depression: A common cause of ED, depression affects a person physically and psychologically. Depression can cause ED even when a man is completely comfortable in sexual situations. Drugs used to treat depression may also cause ED.
- Low self-esteem: This can be due to prior episodes of ED or can be the result of other issues unrelated to sexual performance.
- Indifference: This may come as a result of age and a subsequent loss of interest in sex, be the result of medications or stemming from problems in a couple’s relationship.
Anxiety Erectile Dysfunction And Poor Body Image
The mental mechanics of this work just like the performance anxiety we just talked about, though the anxiety behind it comes from a different source.
In this case, it comes from feeling bad about what you look like naked.
A study of 367 male military personnel run by the International Society for Sexual Medicine found significantly lower incidence of ED among young men with positive body image as compared to those with poor body image .
Bottom line: if you dont like how you look naked, it can keep you from performing well when somebody sees you naked.
The solution to this one may be hard to swallow, but its a truth you shouldnt convince yourself to ignore.
You have to make a decision, then take action to change what your body looks like.
This is simply a matter of whats more important to you: that donut or your sex life. I know that sounds harsh , but its the truth.
The way to develop better body image is to develop a better body.
The great news here is new studies have shown that just starting a diet and exercise program aimed at improving your body will improve your body image well before youve made significant progress.
That commitment to improvement helps you feel better about yourself, and the initial sessions will give you more energy and focus both of which can help you improve your performance and confidence in the sack.
The Most Common Physical Causes Of Ed
Physical causes of ED are well understood, and this is the first place a physician will likely begin to look when assessing ED. Common physical causes of ED include:
- Heart Disease
These issues all have one thing in common: they generally affect blood flow. Of course, elevated blood flow in the penis is precisely what leads to an erection. Impede blood flow, impede the erection.;
All of the above are known risk factors for ED, meaning that when they’re present in a male they raise the likelihood that the man will suffer from ED. Addressing these health conditions first is one of the best ways to start dealing with your ED.;
Treat Your Depression Or Anxiety
When erectile dysfunction is caused by depression or anxiety, healthcare providers will focus first and foremost on treating your mental health issues, whether through therapy and/or prescription medications. If you can relieve your mental stressors, your erectile dysfunction symptoms are likely to improve, too.
Talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are useful ways to help treat a variety of mental health issues. These are usually the first-choice options when you have depression or anxiety. If therapy isnt enough on its own, your doctor may also recommend prescription medications. While some men might see taking medication for mental health as embarrassing, just know that it can make a huge difference in your quality of life. Also, remember that many of the antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications out there take about 4 to 6 weeks to really start working, so dont get discouraged if youre not feeling any changes right away.
As with any treatment plan, always keep an open line of communication with your healthcare provider about what youre feeling, so they can adjust anything, if needed.
Sexual Anxiety Is A Common Issue
Performance anxiety is a common problem that can affect anyone. For men, it can be a stressful experience after all, no one wants to let their sexual partner down or miss out on enjoying sex because they feel anxious and uncomfortable.
Luckily, performance anxiety can easily be fixed. From open communication with your partner to guided imagery, relaxation exercises and ED medication, there are;a range of treatment options that can help you overcome performance anxiety and enjoy a healthy sex life.
Interested in learning more about the psychological side of sexual performance? Our guides to;porn-induced erectile dysfunction and;average penis and erection size go into more detail about two of the most common causes of sexual performance anxiety.
Looking for a way to reduce feelings of anxiety?;Our list of five science-backed reasons to start meditating explains how meditation can play a role in helping you overcome stress, anxiety and negative thought patterns.
Management Through Healthy Habits
Eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep are all vital parts of helping your body manage stress or anxiety. Nutrient deficiencies, perpetual exhaustion, and a lack of endorphins will only further tank your mood. Start preparing healthier meals at home and aim for a 20-minute leisurely walk daily. You dont have to change the world all at once, and you can slowly integrate these changes to give yourself time to adapt.
Give yourself a bedtime and stick to it. You may find that natural sleep aids like valerian root, melatonin, passion flower, chamomile tea, or CBD help to relax you before bed.;
If your job is a constant source of stress or anxiety, consider making some career changes. If youll feel better and be happier working in a field outside of your current one and a substantial group of Americans say they would your constant stress and overall health may be final straw you need to make that transition.;;
You also need to find a healthy outlet away from your stressors. Hobbies like martial arts, boxing, woodworking, journaling, writing fiction, painting, sculpture, hiking, fishing, or even weekly card games with friends can serve as positive avenues for releasing stressed or anxious feelings. As long as what youre doing isnt harming yourself or someone else and you feel good when you do it, it counts as a healthy outlet.;
Key Issues In Anxiety And Erectile Dysfunction
Anxiety is a well-known aetiological factor in the development of erectile dysfunction . There are three key issues a physician must consider when treating anxiety and ED. Firstly, ED often results from a combination of different causes, which comprise of organic and psychogenic factors that occur at the same period of a man’s life.,, Secondly, anxiety may be confused with depression or sexual desire disorder; however, this can be prevented by discussing the key issues with each patient. Finally, anxiety is a normal response to personal and health issues; and not a pathological response.
It is essential for physicians treating ED to consider a global approach to ED therapy that deals with anxiety. Central initiators such as apomorphine SL are of use in helping to break the failure cycle that becomes a part of ED. The resulting physiological erection helps to normalise the sexual situation of the couple thus alleviating the anxiety.