Sex Ed in Bed

An orgasm a day keeps depression away
By Jallen Rix, Ed.D. (c).

Often, it’s easy to place in our minds the experience of depression and the experience of sex at opposite extremes of a spectrum, with depression at the negative end while sex is hopefully at the positive end. However, these two aspects of the human condition have a lot more interplay than most of us realize. Dr. Jack Morin, author of The Erotic Mind, has noticed this interaction for a long time and shared his findings at a recent conference.

Of course, depression usually has a debilitating effect on sexual energy. Low sex drive is often an early warning signal of approaching depression as well as being the last thing to return after it. Furthermore, with the exception of Welbutrin, it appears that the vast majority of anti-depressants have sexual side effects, most notably a difficulty cumming and anorgasmia (not cumming at all).

However, there are times depression can also bring on heightened sexual states. Just about every long-term couple I’ve known will confess how hot make-up sex is after a difficult episode in the relationship. Depressive states can be so unpleasant that most of us will seek escape, distraction, or relief as best we can. We have our ways of self-medicating that often work successfully. Common strategies include sleeping, eating, shopping, “zoning out,” drug use, and sex. A low time can be exactly the thing to get us off our duff and onto the sexual playing field.

Unfortunately, a sexual high is often short lived when severe depressive states overwhelm the positive effects of sex and romance. For some dysthymic disorders (long-lasting depression) post-orgasmic crashes may leave us feeling even worse than before. It is important to recognize the natural chemical down swing contained in an orgasm, especially for men. During an aroused and orgasmic state a lot of endorphins are burned up. As a result, when the body returns to its regular functions we’re left with a lower amount of our natural “happy drug.” Depending on the metabolism, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to a whole day to restore this depletion. This may lend credence to the myths about guys immediately falling asleep, or darting out the door right after cumming because they actually are feeling a little depressed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told this to guys and watched a sense of relief wash over their faces. “Oh! It’s not about guilt or shame, but it’s chemical!”

Sex can also be the topic that brings about a lot of depression. Of course, western culture has developed such a negative sexual heritage that a lot of us have to do a little time on the therapeutic couch before realizing the goodness of sexual pleasure. Sometimes the challenge of satisfying our particular sexual taste can create a depression-promoting cycle. For example, let’s say a middle-aged gay man is not just attracted to young guys; he believes that the only really good sex is with younger guys. The attraction and the belief fused together are destined to make him feel worse and worse as time goes by.

What we believe aside, sex can be a great anti-depressant, regardless if it’s short lived or not. It replenishes the energy that depression often depletes. That’s what the ancient practice of tantric sex is all about — building up and accessing our rich resource of sexual energy. There have been times I’ve masturbated and — Whoa! Hey there! — I was interrupted right before orgasm. I’m always astonished at how much energy I have at that moment! I can take on the world because sexually pleasuring myself generates a lot of energy. Sex, whether alone or with a partner, lusty or romantic provides validation and affirmation. The natural ability to give sexual self-pleasure is also the most powerful activity for a healthy well-being. It heightens the senses, exercises the body, celebrates life, strengthens self-esteem, and just feels so damn good! So watch two porno and call your therapist in the morning. Furthermore, if you are experiencing symptoms of depression, you don’t have to deal with it alone. Talk about it to a friend, a doctor, or call 211 for a crisis hotline in your area.

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