Sex and Mental Health: Does Sex Help with Depression?

Does sex help with depression? Find out just what the connection is between sex and depression and discover how sex can ease anxiety and create relaxation.
A woman lying on top of a man as both of them kiss

If you’re out in some public place and you said “sex” out loud, you’re likely to draw more than just a few sharp glares, or at the very least, a couple of once-overs. But do the same thing with the word “love,” and you might be lucky to get a disinterested passing glance. 

And that’s because Western culture has shaped the perception of sex as something that is controversial, provocative, even dirty. Yet, sex is none of those things. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. 

If there’s one word that can best describe sex, it’s “beautiful.” Sex allows us to procreate our mini-mes. It can also represent the highest possible bond between a man and a woman. And, of course, sex is pleasurable and fun! But did you know that sex can also help with depression?

First, let’s talk about depression

Depression, also called major depressive disorder, is a complex condition that affects many people. It is so common that about 280 million people, or 3.8% of the world’s population, are afflicted with this illness. Usually shrugged off as not being “serious enough”, we need to clarify that a diagnosis of depression is different from simply feeling low or having a bad day. 

Although there are mild cases of this disease, it can become a major health problem. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that many sufferers of depression do not receive proper treatment for their condition. Some of the reasons may be the lack of affordable treatments and the undersupply of professionally-trained health care providers, especially in developing nations. And then there’s the stigma attached to mental and emotional illnesses.

The good news is that when they do  get proper care and/ or medication, 80% to 90% of individuals experiencing depression eventually respond well to treatment

Depression can range from mild to moderate and severe, with each case being handled differently from the next. However, there are some ways that are known to be beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and depression for almost everyone, which includes sex.

Causes and Symptoms of Depression

Depression is typically affected by one or a combination of these factors: genetics, the biological and chemical makeup of one’s brain, childhood experiences of neglect and abuse, and stressful life events. Aside from physical indicators, such as unexplained aches and pains, fatigue, and lack of energy, depression can also manifest through anxiety and constant worrying, guilt and feelings of worthlessness, being generally sad and upset, and lack of self-esteem. In extreme cases, depression can lead to suicide. If depression is to be effectively treated, one must consider all available options that may be potentially advantageous.

A couple lying in bed

Sex and Depression

Now let’s go back to the question: “Does sex help with depression?” The answer to that is a clear and resounding “yes.”

During sex, certain feel-good hormones trigger pleasure centers in the brain to produce feelings of intimacy and relaxation, making one feel less anxious and more relaxed. First, the dopamine hormones help us focus on things that we find interesting, enabling us to make the most out of pleasure. Dopamine is also responsible for feelings of desire and motivation. Then you have endorphins, which prevent muscles from feeling pain while giving you intense happiness and excitement. Lastly, you have oxytocins, also popularly known as the cuddle hormone or bonding hormone, which increase during hugging, kissing, and sexual intimacy. 

Next, we come to the “big O.” Orgasm or intense excitement can likewise ease depression. Researchers found that when one is experiencing orgasm, several things happen to the body and brain. First, the part of the brain responsible for reasoning and value judgments takes a leave, making one less inhibited and more relaxed. You then become less fearful and anxious, which allows you to engage better in the sexual act.

But the happiness meter doesn’t go down even after orgasm when the brain continues to produce oxytocins despite already winding down. A portion in the nervous system of both men and women which controls the “rest and digest” conditions (in contrast to the “fight-and-flight” of anxiety and depression) tells the body to chill out and calm down. In addition, post-orgasm activates the brain to create serotonin. This hormone stabilizes our mood and helps with eating and sleeping disorders that may result from a depressed state.

Lastly, orgasm may also improve brain health. Because of the increased blood circulation in the brain, oxygen and essential nutrients can be delivered to restore and regenerate brain cells, keeping them as fit as a fiddle.

Some Peak Points

The special and intimate act of sex can be a wonderful way to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Just a quick note though that having multiple partners may pose health risks. Always make sure to keep yourself and your partner protected. It may also help optimize the benefits of sexual intimacy by enjoying it in the context of a secure and committed relationship. 

Something that can be equally sexy and effective in relieving depression is infrared light technology. Red or near-infrared light can deeply penetrate brain tissue for healing and regeneration, diminishing the symptoms of depression. Experience the benefits of infrared light with HigherDOSE’s cutting-edge line of infrared products, such as the HigherDOSE Full Spectrum Infrared Sauna and Infrared Sauna Blanket. Don’t wait for tomorrow—check us out today and boost your DOSE of happiness!

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