Does Sex Help with Anxiety and Depression?

Sex can bring up a lot of emotions. We usually think of the positive ones—the physical feelings and the positive emotions that come from having sex. But for those of us dealing with mental health issues like anxiety and depression, perhaps the thoughts about sex cause more of those negative thoughts and feelings to arise.

There are a lot of benefits that come from sex, but can sex help with anxiety and depression? In a word, yes! Some of the benefits that come from sex may also help with anxiety and depression. So, in this article, we’ll talk about a few of these health benefits and how they may help.

Just a quick reminder: this article is written to show how sex can help with anxiety and depression issues, but it is not a solution for chronic anxiety and depression disorders. Please be aware of your mental health needs and seek help if you feel you need it.

Anxiety and Depression

The first thing to address is anxiety and depression overall. And studies do find that engaging in sexual activities with your partner can be very beneficial for anxiety and depression. A 2021 study showed that those who were able to maintain a sexual relationship with their partner during the COVID-19 lockdown experienced less anxiety and depression than those who were unable to have sex during lockdowns (Mollaioli et al., 2021). The study also suggested that regular sexual activity could reduce some of the negative symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. So, sex can actually help with anxiety and depression issues.

But in addition to sex helping with anxiety and depression issues, it also offers a lot of other psychological benefits that may also contribute to better mental health and wellness.

Sex Reduces Stress

While stress can sometimes help motivate us to accomplish things, it can also be harmful physically and mentally. Luckily, sex can help with stress as well. Hormones like oxytocin—sometimes known as the love hormone—are released in your body during sex. These hormones coming to life during sex can help in both feeling connected to your partner and relaxation, which can both be beneficial for anxiety and depression overall. In addition, a 2009 study found that both men and women were more satisfied with their mental health if they were engaging in sex regularly.

Improve Quality of Relationship

Remember when I talked about that love hormone, oxytocin? Well, while it can help you relax, another benefit of that oxytocin release is that it also increases feelings of intimacy with your partner. Sex, especially orgasm, can help us feel more trust, passion, and love for our partners. And all of these positive feelings help improve the overall quality of our relationship. If we are happier in our relationships and feel very connected to our partners, it can also be helpful in decreasing our anxious and depressive symptoms.

Improved Ability to Process and Discuss Emotions

There also may be a link between frequent sex and one’s ability to process and manage their emotions, especially in women. A 2003 study found that when having less sex, women were more likely to have trouble processing and expressing their emotions. So, having more regular sex might mean a greater ability to connect and work with your emotions. This could also have a positive effect on your anxiety and depression symptoms.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with anxiety and depression is never an easy thing. Depending upon how severe it is or how we handle it, it can lead to a lot of different stresses and complications in our lives. While sex certainly isn’t the solution to managing anxiety and depression symptoms, it may be an additional thing that can help relieve some of the stress of dealing with these mental conditions.

Disclaimer: This article is both for fun and informative purposes. Please do not take this article as a diagnosis or as a solution or treatment to any disorders. Anxiety and depression can be serious mental health conditions, so please seek professional help if you feel you need it.

References

  • Brody S. (2003). Alexithymia is inversely associated with women’s frequency of vaginal intercourse. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32(1), 73–77. https://doi.org/10.1023/a:1021897530286
  • Brody, S., & Costa, R. M. (2009). Satisfaction (sexual, life, relationship, and mental health) is associated directly with penile-vaginal intercourse, but inversely with other sexual behavior frequencies. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 6(7), 1947–1954. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01303.x
  • Brody S. (2010). The relative health benefits of different sexual activities. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7(4), 1336–1361. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01677.x
  • Holland, K., & Legg, T. J. (2018). Does Masturbation Cause or Treat Anxiety? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/masturbation-and-anxiety
  • Mollaioli, D., Sansone, A., Ciocca, G., Limoncin, E., Colonnello, E., Di Lorenzo, G., & Jannini, E. A. (2021). Benefits of Sexual Activity on Psychological, Relational, and Sexual Health During the COVID-19 Breakout. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 18(1), 35–49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2020.10.008
  • Rogers, P., & Wilson, D. R. (2018). The Health Benefits of Sex. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sex-health-benefits
  • Sprecher, S. (2014). Evidence of change in men’s versus women’s emotional reactions to first sexual intercourse: A 23-year study in a human sexuality course at a midwestern university. The Journal of Sex Research, 51(4), 466-472.

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