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How to Retain Intimacy When Struggling With Depression

How to Retain Intimacy When Struggling With Depression

Despite the fact that it’s an often downplayed mental condition, depression can have a powerful and all-consuming impact on people’s lives. Around the world, over 300 million people are struggling with depression.

Whether it happens to you just occasionally or affects you as a long-term or chronic condition, depression should never be taken lightly or kept as a secret.

It can affect your ability to sustain a career, derail you from your life’s passions, cause unhealthy weight loss or weight gain.

It can also affect your ability to take care of yourself, and yes, cause difficulties when it comes to intimacy with other people.

Intimacy can be complicated

Intimacy, in itself, is already a complicated matter, even if you’re not depressed.

But with depression, sex and intimacy become even trickier.

Depressed people often find themselves uninterested in sex and/or unable to make intimate connections with other people, which just makes the depression worse.

Sex, intimacy, and romance are all important aspects of mental health. If your depression has began to affect these aspects of your life, it’s time to take action.

Prioritize Your Own Mental Health First

Don’t force yourself to have sex or be intimate if you’re absolutely not into it.

Before you can start enjoying sexual contact or fostering intimate connections with other people, you need to take care of your depression first.

This doesn’t mean that you have to fully overcome depression before you can engage in intimate activity.

Some forms of depression, whether they’re brought about by chemical imbalances in the brain or traumatic activities, can become permanent.

And it’s up to you to live with the depression without letting it consume your very being.

Enjoy being sexual and intimate

Just because you’re struggling with depression doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy being sexual and intimate.

It just means that you have to reach a point in your life where, even though you’re suffering from depression, your mind and body are still open to you being a sexual being.

The only way to do this is to start focusing on your mental health, no matter what it takes.

So even if the side effects of certain medications can cause you to lose your sex drive, you should still be open to taking them.

Loss of libido through medication is a temporary sacrifice, and it’s a small one, considering that your overall mental health ultimately dictates your natural ability to enjoy intimacy.

Don’t be afraid of taking prescribed medication, but at the same time…

Ask Your Doctor About Alternative Medication

Whether you’re seeing a therapist, psychologist, or a psychiatrist, you should be open to them about your personal sexual needs and concerns. And try not to be shy about it.

For some people struggling with depression, especially in cases where the depression is caused by sexual trauma, this can be extremely difficult.

But if you want to still have a healthy sex life despite your mental condition, openly discussing your problems and concerns with your doctor is a big part of the healing process.

Don’t worry: while doctors tend to overlook the effects of medication on a patient’s sex drive, they’re usually open to any concerns that the patient might have regarding the matters of sex drive and intimate contact with other people.

So go ahead: ask your doctor about medication that addresses your depression without significantly decreasing sexual desire and libido.

Be Open to Alternative Treatments

Depression is a multi-faceted mental condition. Thus, there’s no single way to solve or address it. All around the world, there exists several alternative forms of treatment for addressing depression.

So if you feel that medication is not for you, ask your doctor about one-on-one therapy, herbal remedies, meditation, or even doing yoga and martial arts – anything that might help you cope with depression.

You’d be surprised as to what new activity or treatment can actually help you cope with depression on a daily basis.

This might entail a lot of trial and error before you discover an alternative form of treatment that actually works for you.

While it’s potentially going to take up a lot of your time and energy, finding a workable treatment is well worth all your efforts.

Involve Your Partner in the Solution

Intimacy is a two-way street. It’s much harder to solve on your own. Your partner should be willing to take your hand and walk you through the healing process. And this is all a lot easier with open communication.

Let your partner know that you’re struggling with depression and it is affecting your ability to become sexual and intimate. It’s not going to solve everything, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

While your partner is still probably going to be disappointed with your reason for not wanting to be intimate. Being informed about it will not only soften the blow. It can then open new doors for alternative treatment.

For instance, with your partner in the know, you can start being open about trying out new or revisiting old sexual activity that can actually engage your depressed libido.

A simple cuddle

Perhaps you can try just making out without it leading to full-blown coitus.

You can also try erotic massages or even just plain old cuddling: a semi-sexual activity that doesn’t have to lead to coitus but opens the way for intimate contact.

You can also explore new ways of being sexually intimate apart from the tried-and-tested. Experiment and expand your sexual horizons to see what clicks. Try out new things like mutual masturbation, or even mutual masturbation without orgasm. Tease each other.

Even trying out old sexual activities that you haven’t done in years, like dry-humping, can be highly effective at rekindling your dwindling libido. Be open to exploration.

As long as the depressed person in the relationship enjoys doing it, then it’s a step in the right direction.

Your partner’s patience, understanding and active participation in engaging in sexual/semi-sexual activities that you still enjoy can go a long way towards rekindling your natural libido.

Create New Avenues for Intimacy

Your partner’s involvement doesn’t have to stop at sexual/semi-sexual activity. Some alternative forms of therapy can be a lot more effective if you’re not alone in trying them out.

Whether it’s running, yoga, martial arts, meditation, herbal remedies, spiritual reconnection, or group therapy, having someone with you can make the activity easier and even give you more confidence about getting better.

Make it about your partner too

Try not to make it all about yourself. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore your personal needs, it just means doing stuff that both you and your partner can enjoy.

Go on a hike with your partner. Get into biking. Hang out in a bookstore together.

Be generous and give each other gifts even if there’s no special occasion. Try out new and unexpected adventures that can rekindle your level of intimacy with one another.

Opening up new avenues for intimacy and caring for another person is a form of treatment in itself.

While there’s nothing like the feeling of being loved, there’s also nothing like the feeling of loving and caring for someone else; for some people, this can be a highly effective way of treating depression and connected issues with intimacy.

Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself

For some people, self-love is the hardest thing to do when you’re struggling with depression and its interconnected issues. But you have to realize that depression is different for each person.

Some can handle it without outside help or medication, while others take years just to process it and move forward.

And in any and all cases of depression, being too hard on yourself can only make matters much worse.

So breathe. Make peace with the fact that it can take you some time to overcome depression. Try and get to a place where you can be a naturally sexual and intimate person again.

There’s no reason to compare yourself with the struggle of others because at the end of the day, your struggle is your own.

It is up to you to personally determine where you are in that struggle and whether or not you’re ready to move forward.

Forgive yourself

Only you can forgive yourself for the days, months, and even years of intimacy lost due to your depression.

While this is easier said than done, it’s your duty to still take care of yourself despite everything that you’re going through. So keep fighting.

Try your best to still get healthy amounts of sleep. Eat whatever you want but do your best to eat healthy. Get as much outdoor exercise and expose yourself to the sun as much as you can.

Even these simple ways of living a healthy life can contribute to your personal healing process.

Read that romance novel

Another way to take care of yourself is to find ways to express your sexuality even without full-blown intimate or sexual contact.

Read that romance novel that’s been sitting in your shelf for years.

Find new clothes that make you feel sexy – not for other people, but mainly for yourself.

Research new sexual activities or positions that you might be interested in.

You can even watch pornography that you’ve never enjoyed before. Sexual exploration can happen without actual sex.

Keep yourself open, sooner or later, you’ll be able to rediscover your own natural sexuality.

Let Us Know…

Have you found ways to keep you relationship intimate whilst struggling with depression?

Please share any helpful advise or thoughts in the comments below…


Peter Mutuc is obsessed with natural, non-pharmaceutical solutions to lifes problems, including relationships, depression, insomnia and awry sleeping patterns.

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