How Major Depressive Disorder can affect your sex life.

Author :- Graham Holloway June 10, 2020, 9:52 a.m.
How Major Depressive Disorder can affect your sex life.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is one of the most common mental illnesses in society today. Almost one in eight adults (roughly 12.6%) have identified symptoms that met the criteria for a mood disorder at some point during their lifetime [1] and 11.3% of adults in Canada will experience MDD within their lifetime [1]. While many individuals experience a negative change in libido due to the use of anti-depressants (with an inability to orgasm being the most well-known concern), MDD itself has its own negative effects on libido.

Just what is Major Depressive Disorder? MDD is a mood disorder in which the individual experiences five of the nine symptoms outlined in the DSM-V over a period of at least 2 weeks [2]. In order to be diagnosed with MDD, the individual is required to have at least a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure as one of the symptoms.

The other symptoms can include: Affected sleep (sleeping too much or too little), feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt, fatigue or loss of energy, diminished ability to think or concentrate or indecisiveness, significant change in weight or appetite (undereating or overeating), psychomotor agitation (movement that is without purpose or meaning) that is observable by others (e.g. pacing around the room, tapping of fingers or toes, fidgeting, fast talking), and suicidal ideation [2].

How Major Depressive Disorder impacts your sex life

Depression often produces poor self esteem, lack of interest, lack of motivation, and negative thinking patterns, all of which can negatively affect one’s interest in (and enjoyment of) sex. Research from the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships [3] also shows us that there are also difficulties with sexual self-esteem, feeling sexually distant from a partner, trouble communicating about sex, and being unsure how to initiate sex.


While many people focus on the anti depressants that are prescribed due to how they negatively affect libido, MDD has its own effects on one’s sex life. These effects should not be ignored and, through the use of psychotherapy, the symptoms of MDD can be managed and, with that, the effects MDD has on one’s sex life can also be managed.


  1. Pearson, C., Janz, T., and Ali, J., (2013). Mental and substance use disorders in Canada Health at a Glance. Catalogue no. 82-624-X. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.
  2. American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, 2013, P. 160-161. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
  3. Delaney, A. L. (2018). Sexual intimacy challenges as markers of relational turbulence in couples with depression. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36(10), 3075–3097. doi: 10.1177/0265407518809488