The relationship between sex and mental health is complex, to say the least. Though sex is considered to be an essential aspect of life and its many pleasures, it doesn’t always have to translate to happiness and good mental health.
And that’s because this idea of happiness varies widely between individual to individual. Also, the perception of sex and its pleasures are different as well. This is why the connection and correlation between sex and mental health can be positive, negative or may have no impact at all, depending on the circumstances of the case.
In the light of such complexity, let us look into some aspects that correlate sex with mental health.
Depression, whether treated or untreated, can impact your libido. Undoubtedly, sex is the last thing you’d want to do when you’re going through the many throngs of depression. In addition, research shows that certain anti-depressants dampen your libido and your ability to have orgasm. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), in particular, lead to sexual dysfunction and this in turn, affects your ability to have sex. It also creates a spiral effect as it has a negative impact on your mental health, thereby pushing you deeper into depression.
On the positive side, those who are suffering from depression tend to find relief when they have good sex because orgasm releases some positive hormones such as serotonin that gives a big boost to your mental health. You may even end up feeling great throughout the day as it adds some color to your grayed-out brain.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Another condition that is often linked with sex is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD. People suffering from OCD tend to be hyperactive when it comes to sex, and it is also common to have anything from sexual fantasies to addiction. Again, there are medications to control this sexual hyperactivity, but it comes with its own side-effects as well.
Casual sex is often seen as a way to get over one’s negative feelings, and is often seen as a way to boost mental health. But is it really true?
A study by Dr. Zhana Vrangalova shows that the impact may not always be positive, and in fact, there are negative and mixed consequences too, depending on the reason for casual sex.
She conducted a study among college students to get a better insight into this correlation, and found that those who have casual sex to avoid negative feelings, as a form of revenge, or just any of the wrong reasons end up having a low self-esteem and they tend to feel miserable about their actions.
On the other hand, those who had casual sex to explore their sexuality or simply to have fun, ended up with a positive self-esteem and confidence and in turn, this also boosted their mental health in a big way.
So, the reason for casual sex determines its impact on the mental health of an individual.
Connection with your partner
The connect you have with your partner goes a long way in deciding the impact of sex on mental health. If you had sex with your spouse or a partner you totally love, it has a great positive impact on your mental health and you end up feeling great. Needless to say, it also gives a firm boost to the relationship as well.
On the other hand, if you have an abusive partner or you’re forced to have sex against your wish, then it impacts your mental health negatively. In fact, such constant episodes of forced sex can lead to depression and other mental trauma, and can eventually put a big strain on the relationship itself.
Mental health and perceptions
Contrary to popular opinion, sex is not about the physical aspect alone. Rather, most of the sex happens in your minds, and this is what impacts the pain or pleasure that it results in.
Mental illness, in particular, have a more profound impact on sexual activity. For example, people with an unrealistic view of their body will have low self-esteem and they may deem themselves unworthy of any sexual activity. Substance use also impacts the mind’s ability to have sexual interest. Anxiety issues and a maniac feeling to explore risky situations also lead to sexual episodes that can later have a negative impact on your mental health.
To conclude, sex impacts mental health deeply and at the same time, this impact varies greatly from person to person. While one person may have a positive impact from a particular sexual episode, it can be a negative experience for the partner, depending on the circumstances.
In general though, if sex has been impacting you negatively or if you’re unable to enjoy sex, it is best you take help from a qualified sex expert. After all, everyone has a right to enjoy their sexuality!