Friday, June 14, 2024

Connection between depression, sex drive

On Dec 19, 2014, Crista Anne, 32, who has battled depression her whole life, decided to fight back against her illness.

In an article in Cosmopolitan magazine, Anne explained how her new medication had started to relieve some of her symptoms. She was taking Amitriptyline, an antidepressant, and it was helping everything except for one area — her libido.

“In every other aspect of this drug, it’s working beautifully, but I can’t orgasm,” she said in her Cosmopolitan interview. Antidepressants can affect sex drive.

Depression is a complicated illness, explains Carole Okun, a local cognitive behavioral therapist.

“It’s not just one thing. Genetics are a major factor, trauma in the past, and environmental stressors,” Okun said. “If you have a family history of depression, that just adds to it.”

Symptoms of depression can include poor appetite, a lack of or too much sleep, trouble focusing, low self-esteem or feeling hopeless.

According to a study in a New York Times article written by Alan Schwarz, “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2014,” found that 9.5 percent of respondents had frequently ‘felt depressed’ during the past year, a significant rise over the 6.1 percent reported five years ago.”

One common form of depression is dysthymia, which Okun said includes having two or more symptoms and being stuck in a depressed mood for most of the day. This can last for a period of at least two years. Major depression includes five or more symptoms with recurring thoughts of dying or suicidal thoughts.

“Some of these antidepressants are great to affect your mood, but with libido — you can be numb in the area,” Okun said. “It’s very individual, and not everybody has a low libido. It depends what medication it is. Some affect more than others.”

Crista Anne created the hashtag “#OrgasmQuest” in order to document her attempt to have an orgasm once a day. Her main goal, she said, is to discuss her lack of libido and fight through it. She also said she wants to help people move away from goal-oriented sex when having an orgasm is your highest priority instead of just enjoying the pleasure.

“We have this strong focus on goal-oriented sex and that orgasm is the end all, be all and that if you don’t come, it’s a failure,” Anne said. “That’s toxic. That’s not what #OrgasmQuest is about. #OrgasmQuest is about getting my masturbatory orgasm back because that is my life hack.”

Although Anne said she has figured out what she wants out of #OrgasmQuest, that doesn’t mean having sex will alleviate everyone’s problems.

“You have to look at why you’re having casual sex, and if it’s not making you feel good in the long run, is it really the answer?” Okun said. “Are you any happier? If not, then let’s rethink it.”

Plattsburgh State students who have questions about depression or other mental illnesses can reach out to the Student Health Center on campus.

Okum said it is important for people to value their own health, physical and mental, and take control of their issues.

“With depression, there is help, and there is hope,” said Okun.

Email Patrick Willisch at

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