Have you considered clinical trials for Erectile dysfunction?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Erectile dysfunction, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

What is depression, and what are the symptoms?

Depression¹ is a mood disorder that causes a constant feeling of sadness and loss of interest. 

There are five major types of depressive disorder:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)

  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder

  • Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)

  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

  • Depressive disorder due to another medical condition

These disorders have similar symptoms, such as sadness, emptiness, or irritability. You may also experience mental and physiological changes that impact your ability to function and complete daily tasks. 

MDD is the most common of the depressive disorders. Around 7%¹ of the world's population will have suffered from MDD within the last 12 months. In the US, nearly 17 million adults¹ are affected by depression. 

Due to the stigma around mental health, almost 60%¹ of people experiencing depression do not seek medical attention. You may feel that others’ false ideas about depression may negatively impact your professional and personal lives. 

However, society has come far in recent years with people discussing their mental health openly and research focusing on new treatments. Dealing with depression is nothing to be ashamed of. It's not your fault, and there is help available.

Doctors have many ways to treat depression, so make an appointment with your primary care provider. 

What causes depression?

There are various causes of depression, including genetic and environmental factors. 

Research has linked neurodegenerative diseases (like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's), stroke, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders, and cancer with higher rates of depression. 

Traumatic life events such as losing a loved one, financial problems, and conflict can also cause depression.

How does depression lead to erectile dysfunction?

There is a link between depression and erectile dysfunction (ED). Men who have depression are nearly two times more likely to have ED. 

Arousal produces chemicals that cause an erection. When you have depression, the production of these chemicals decreases, including the male sex hormone testosterone.² 

This causes a reduced libido (sex drive) and prevents you from maintaining an erection. 

What are the treatment options for both conditions?

There is a vast range of treatment options available for depression that your doctor can adapt to your needs. The most common treatment options are lifestyle changes, psychotherapy, and medication. 

For treatment-resistant depression or severe cases of depression, your doctor may recommend electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). While ECT was controversial³ in the past, doctors now use it carefully and sparingly. 

Medications

Your doctor can also prescribe a variety of medications. Some of them include:

SSRIs

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increase serotonin levels in your brain. Serotonin is a chemical that is responsible for improved mood. It is often lower in people with depression. 

Some examples of SSRIs include: 

  • Citalopram (Celexa)

  • Sertraline (Zoloft)

  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)

SNRIs

Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) work like SSRIs. They also improve the level of norepinephrine, another chemical that is lower in depression. 

These include: 

  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)

  • Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)

Atypical antidepressants

This class of medications contains drugs that do not fit into other classes but still work with the same concept. They affect brain chemistry and help to relieve the symptoms of depression. 

These include: 

  • Amitriptyline (Elavil)

  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin)

  • Mirtazapine (Remeron)

  • Trazodone

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is an effective treatment for depression. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) are two types of therapy.

CBT

CBT focuses on changing your thinking and behavior patterns. It can help people of all ages and is effective at preventing relapse. It is also valuable for older patients who may experience more severe side effects from medications.

IPT

IPT focuses on helping you work on your current relationships and interpersonal difficulties.

PDE5 inhibitors

Doctors typically treat ED with PDE5 inhibitors. These drugs increase blood flow to your penis, producing an erection sufficient for pleasurable sexual intercourse. 

They are typically well-tolerated and have few side effects. Some of these drugs include:

  • Sildenafil (Viagra)

  • Tadalafil (Cialis)

  • Vardenafil (Levitra)

  • Avanafil (Stendra)

Can antidepressants cause erectile dysfunction?

Unfortunately, if you are treating your depression with medication, you may experience erectile dysfunction as a result. SSRIs and SNRIs can cause ED.⁴ 

Studies show that 40-65%⁵ of people taking these medications are affected by sexual dysfunction (including ED).

How these medications cause ED is not really understood. As erectile dysfunction is also a symptom of depression, it can be challenging to separate the two. If you experience ED due to medication, speak to your doctor about alternatives. 

This might include changing medication, lowering the dosage, or taking a ‘drug holiday.' Never stop taking your medication without consulting a doctor, as this can be dangerous.

Are there any natural remedies for treating depression and erectile dysfunction?

Natural remedies could be an option for you if you have depression. Natural remedies are not guaranteed to cure your depression. 

However, they may be an option if you don’t respond to medicine or would like to supplement your treatment. Some of these include:

Herbal remedies

People have used St John’s wort⁶ for centuries to treat mental health conditions. European doctors regularly prescribe it for mild-to-moderate depression. It’s also a common dietary supplement in the United States. 

There are mixed results for the effectiveness of St John’s wort for treating depression. St John's wort interacts with many commonly used drugs, including SSRIs. Please consult your doctor before trying St John's wort.

Meditation

The Buddhist practice of meditation could be an excellent supplementary treatment for depression. It focuses on making you more aware of your thoughts and feelings. There are apps and classes available to learn how to meditate.

For erectile dysfunction 

There are no natural remedies for erectile dysfunction. Increasing your physical activity, abstaining from alcohol and smoking, improving your diet, and regular doctor visits can reduce your ED risk. 

While it may be embarrassing to talk to your doctor about your erectile dysfunction, they can work with you to treat it. Rather than suffering in silence, speak up and let them treat you.

Other underlying conditions can cause erectile dysfunction, including cardiovascular and kidney problems. It's best to get checked out to determine the cause. Your doctor will want to rule out any other conditions.

How can partners support each other through these conditions?

Having a loved one deal with depression and erectile dysfunction can be difficult. To keep your relationship strong, be open and honest with your communication and offer support. Some ways to be supportive include:

  • Learning as much as you can about ED and depression

  • Supporting your partner at doctors visits and consider going to therapy with them

  • Encourage your partner and don't be judgmental

The lowdown

Depression is a common mental health disorder that can profoundly affect your daily life. One of the symptoms of depression is sexual dysfunction, including erectile dysfunction. 

While you may feel embarrassed about struggling with these issues, your doctor regularly deals with these conditions. Make an appointment to speak with them to start treatment.

Doctors typically treat depression with medication or therapy. Unfortunately, some antidepressants can also cause erectile dysfunction. Your doctor can easily treat ED with medication. 

You can supplement your depression treatment with natural remedies, but you should always consult a doctor before starting these.

Be open, communicative, and supportive if your partner has depression or erectile dysfunction. Ask them how you can help

Have you considered clinical trials for Erectile dysfunction?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Erectile dysfunction, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64



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