Episode 150: The Complicated Link Between Depression and Sex

December 1, 2022 by Justin Lehmiller

Sex and Psychology Podcast
Sex and Psychology Podcast
Episode 150: The Complicated Link Between Depression and Sex

It is well known that depression (and certain drug treatments for depression, notably SSRIs) can lower sexual interest, desire, and activity levels. However, it turns out that the story of how depression and sex are connected is more complicated than this. Depression is one of those things that can affect different people in very different ways. In fact, research actually finds that depression has the potential to both increase and decrease sexual desire and behavior. So how do we explain this pattern of results? Let’s talk about it. 

I am joined by JoEllen Notte, a writer, speaker, and mental health advocate whose work explores the impact of depression on sex and relationships. Since 2012 she has written about sex, mental health, and how none of us are broken on her award-winning site, The Redhead Bedhead. JoEllen is the author of The Monster Under The Bed: Sex, Depression, and the Conversations We Aren’t Having as well as the upcoming book In It Together: Navigating Depression with Partners, Friends, and Family. Some of the topics we discuss include: 

  • Why depression may lower sexual interest in some people, but increase libido for others.
  • The sexual side effects of various antidepressant treatments.
  • How to take control of your sexuality when you’re depressed.
  • How to work with your healthcare provider(s) to minimize side effects of depression medication and treatment.
  • How to communicate with a partner about sex when you’re depressed.

Learn more about JoEllen at redheadbedhead.com.

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Credits: Precision Podcasting (Podcast editing) and Shutterstock/Florian (Music). Image created with Canva; photos used with permission of guest.


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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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