How Mental Health Can Contribute to Erectile Dysfunction

When we think of mental health, we think of the brain, which makes sense. Mental health does have to do with the brain. But the brain is also profoundly connected to all other systems in our body–in fact, it’s the command center for our body, so it makes sense that if someone is struggling with a mental health issue, that person may have physical symptoms in addition to emotional ones. One of those physical symptoms may be erectile dysfunction. In fact, in many cases of ED, mental health is a factor, and in some cases, it’s the main factor. This is especially true for younger men who experience ED and don’t have other underlying health issues. So what is the connection between mental health and erectile dysfunction?

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are no strangers to most people’s lives to some degree or another. Though they are often lumped together, stress and anxiety are not quite the same thing. Stress is a negative emotion felt in response to an event or external trigger. Anxiety is felt regarding internal worries, which may stem from a stressful event (or the anticipation of a stressful event). Both feelings–stress and anxiety–can disrupt mental pathways in the brain needed to trigger an erection. So until a person’s stress and anxiety is addressed and treated, he may have episodes of erectile dysfunction that don’t stem from an underlying disease. In the instance of stress, strategies on managing a stressful situation or removing a particular stressor entirely can sometimes be all it takes to solve the problem. Anxiety usually requires further help from a mental health professional. 

Performance Anxiety

Many men will experience an episode or two of ED in their lives. That does not mean they have an erectile dysfunction problem. However, for some men, a single experience of ED can feel traumatic or embarrassing enough to cause anxiety over having future ED episodes. This performance anxiety can actually prevent erections, thereby creating an ED problem that would not otherwise occur.

Depression

Depression is more than feeling sad. It occurs due to a chemical imbalance that can also get in the way of feeling sexual desire. Additionally, a telling sign of depression is the inability to feel emotion. Emotion, however, is a crucial ingredient in the cocktail of bodily functions required to have and maintain an erection. It is no wonder, then, that someone suffering from depression can also experience ED.

Mental Health Medication

Some of the medications used to treat mental health conditions can cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect. If you notice this side effect happening to you, it doesn’t mean you have to suffer with ED or with mental illness. Speak to your doctor about adjusting your dose or trying another medication until you find a plan that works for your mental health and your sex life.

Seek Treatment For Your Mental Health

Just like you go to doctors for other medical conditions, such as for your ED, it is also important to seek professional help for your mental health. Sometimes, all it takes to help your ED is to address your anxiety or depression. Your doctors can also work together to help you become healthier in all aspects of your life. ED medication alone is just a bandage if you have a deeper mental health issue (or other medical issue) going on. At Apex Health Center, we look at the whole patient, and we help you get the help you need to address the bigger picture. We want to make sure that other areas of your health, such as your mental health, don’t continue to contribute or exacerbate your ED, and that you get the complete care you need.

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