How your partner's depression can affect your intimacy and sex life

Depression adversely affects every sphere of a person's life, including relationships.

When one partner is depressed, the relationship may take strain as sufferers appear to lose their lust for life and interest in sex.

Clinical sexologist Dr Eve advises that as much as 20% of the population is depressed.

Depression, and its associated medications, has an incredible impact on people's sexuality.

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

Dr Eve says partners assume the role of the caretaker when their loved one becomes depressed, often losing out on their intimacy.

Dr Eve defined depression as an illness characterised by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, over a prolonged period of time.

She says symptoms linked to depression:

  • A loss of energy;
  • A change in appetite;
  • Sleeping more or less;
  • Anxiety;
  • Reduced concentration;
  • Indecisiveness;
  • Restlessness;
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

People who are depressed are not able to intimately connect and don't have an interest in being sexual.

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

According to Dr Eve, partners need to show compassion and support for their partners in order to help them cope.

However, she explains that supportive partners may feel neglected or unloved in the process.

She offered the following advise to parents: (read more on Dr Eve's blog)

  • Get professional diagnosis to ensure it is depression.
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Encourage your partner to do yoga
  • Create good boundaries for yourself and maintain your own routine
  • Recognise and accept that finding empathy and compassion for a depressed partner won't be easy
  • Acknowledge that your partner cannot emotionally nor sexually connect with you
  • Find emotional support elsewhere, but do not cheat
  • Masturbate and tell your partner
  • Discuss different medication and dosage with psychiatrist so that sexual side effects are least noxious
  • Discuss the use of PDE5I so erections are assured
  • Do not allow your partner to stop medication due to loss of sexual functioning
  • Use lubricants to avoid sexual discomfort
  • Invest in vibrators to use together

Several listeners called in with their personal stories of grieving the loss of sex (also known as sexual bereavement).

Take a listen to the engaging discussion:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : How your partner's depression can affect your intimacy and sex life


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