Depression is huge. Not only are depression rates within the country – within the world – ridiculously high, but also, according to the American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment, 30 percent of college students said that they felt “so depressed that it was difficult to function” at some point within the past year.
So, it’s an understatement to suggest that depression is worth thinking about.
Before I continue with a completely self-indulgent discussion on my two favorite things to talk about – sex and depression – let me just say that University Health Service has wonderful resources for those of us struggling with depression. And professional help, or even just advice, is worth seeking.
And now, onward! So, sex and depression – they aren’t friends. In fact they seem like natural enemies. It’s a quest just to get them in the same room.
Depression is partly chemical. It can lower your libido, and it can simply make sex less enjoyable. And that can interfere (who am I kidding – that will interfere!) with relationships, as if the depression itself isn’t enough of a challenge.
But, in a simpler world, sex could be really helpful in the battle against depression. Sex is a feel-good drug. It feels good in the moment of course, but the residual endorphin rush lasts longer.
And the positive feelings– especially the confidence can last for days. What can build your self-esteem more than consent that says, “I want you!”? Not to mention that there’s a study reporting that semen has natural antidepressant qualities. (Anyone want to take a bet on who motivated that study?)
Additionally, when you’re depressed, it can be hard to really connect, even with someone you’re dating. It’s hard to feel understood, so it’s hard to feel close to someone.
Sex can be a really helpful tool for maintaining your intimacy in a time when you need it most.
Sex is powerful. And when you’re depressed, you need all the help you can get.
Depression itself and the antidepressants often used as treatment can make it hard to want sex, though.
It can be helpful to remind yourself of all the potential positive results of sex.
Reminding yourself that it will give you a physical good feeling, that it will give you a chemical good feeling, that it might build your confidence and that it will give you a venue to be intimate with your partner are all powerful things.
That said, be careful. Sex is not a treatment. In fact, treatment is just that – only treatment.
Sex is a positive thing to cherish in your life, and romantic intimacy is something to be kindled during hard times. But it’s never something to force yourself into.
And it’s never something to guilt yourself over. As much as I preach sex as a positive thing in my writing, it is not essential.
And not wanting sex, especially when you’re sick, is common, expected, not your fault and not wrong. If sex can be a helpful tool for you after discussing it with your partner, then wonderful!
But, the bottom line is that your depression will always be more important than sex, and getting it treated is the most important thing.
Armstrong is a member of
the class of 2016.