If you’ve ever suffered from mental health issues, you know they can affect your daily life and even your most routine activities.
For men, it can affect their sexual performance and their ability to have erections.
Researchers have found that about 25% of men with erectile dysfunction also suffer from depression, anxiety, or both.
The connection between mental health and ED is real, and researchers are learning more about it with each new day.
In the article below, we will discuss what we know about erectile dysfunction and how it relates to stress, and what you can do about it.
[Check out our article How To Treat Erectile Dysfunction, to learn more about ED treatment.]
What Is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when you can’t get an erection good enough for satisfying intercourse, usually due to a lack of blood flow.
This includes erections that aren’t firm or don’t last long enough.
Experiencing ED can be a traumatic experience for men, but it’s more common than many people realize.
Erectile dysfunction is the most common sexual dysfunction. Experts estimate that up to 30 million American men have experienced it.
ED can have several potential triggers, including your physical health and conditions like high blood pressure and some psychological factors.
One of the main psychological causes is stress.
What Is Stress and Anxiety?
Stress is your body’s reaction to changes that require an adjustment or response to maintain normal function.
Your body can react to stress with a physical, emotional, or mental response.
Anxiety is typically described as feelings of worry, nervousness, or unease about something that has an uncertain outcome.
Anxiety and stress are the most common mental health conditions most people will experience.
Feeling stress is usually due to your surroundings or current circumstances, and it is usually temporary.
Anxiety, though, is more than just feeling nervous or worried.
Anxiety is continuing to feel stressed or worried even after the source of this stress and/or worry has passed.
How Does Stress Cause ED?
Stress can cause several physical symptoms that affect a wide range of body parts and systems.
Stress is well known to cause headaches, stomach trouble, and depression.
Chronic stress is even known to weaken your heart and immune system.
So it should come as no surprise that stress can affect the quality of your erections.
Erections involve blood flow into your penis in response to signals from your brain.
But if you’re stressed, the signals from your brain to your body can be interrupted.
Even if you’re psychologically aroused, your brain still might not be able to send the signal to get an erection.
Sex is a mental act as much as a physical act.
Different types of stress can contribute to ED, including:
- Psychological stress: Psychological stress involving sex can include performance anxiety, self-esteem issues, or sexual trauma. Younger men usually experience this type of stress.
- Professional stress: Professional stress and stress about your job or career typically contributes to ED in middle-aged men.
- Life events: Significant events in your life, like having a kid, a change in your health, losing a job, or relationship issues, can contribute to ED in men of any age.
Stress can cause erection problems on its own, but men who are stressed and anxious often compound those issues with unhealthy coping mechanisms that often make ED worse.
Performance anxiety is a type of stress that often causes erectile dysfunction.
Performance anxiety occurs when you focus on negative thoughts or worries about pleasing your partner instead of stimulation that causes arousal.
It’s a specific type of sexual stress that is believed to affect a number of men.
Regular performance anxiety can diminish self-esteem, sexual confidence, and partner communication.
It’s even been known to lead to relationship troubles and resentment.
What Can You Do About Stress and ED?
The solution to erectile dysfunction from stress will be different from person to person.
However, your health care professional will take a few common steps to help you with your erectile dysfunction if you’re experiencing depression or anxiety.
Is Your ED Caused By Another Health Problem?
Many issues with your sexual health are caused by other physical conditions.
If you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction, the first thing to do is to make sure your body is physically healthy.
Things like diabetes, smoking, heart disease, and prostate issues can all affect your blood vessels and blood flow, thus affecting the quality of your erections.
If you seem healthy otherwise, but you’re experiencing depression or anxiety, your doctor will move on to other options.
Treat Your Stress
If erectile dysfunction is caused by stress, anxiety, or depression, your doctor will first focus on treating your mental health issues.
These treatments often include therapy and/or prescription medications.
If you can get over your mental health issues, your ED is likely to improve as well.
Talk therapy and cognitive behavioral are used to help treat various mental health issues and are usually the first-choice options when you have depression or anxiety.
If the therapy doesn’t work on its own, your doctor could recommend prescription medications.
There is still a negative stigma surrounding medication for mental health, but they can make a huge difference in your quality of life.
And remember, many of the antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications take about 4 to 6 weeks to really start working.
Don’t get discouraged if you’re not feeling any changes right away.
Like you would with any other treatment plan, keep an open line of communication with your medical provider about how you feel so you can make any necessary adjustments.
Treat Your Erectile Dysfunction Directly
Even if you managed to sort out all your other health issues like stress, anxiety disorders, and physical issues, you might still have symptoms of erectile dysfunction.
For example, erectile dysfunction can be a side effect of many antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications.
Changing medications for your mental health issues isn’t always be the best option.
That’s when medications that treat erectile dysfunction, like Viagra and Cialis, or other ED treatment options can help you.
Some men with erectile dysfunction and other sexual disorders find sexual counseling or sex therapy beneficial here.
This type of therapy focuses on improving sexual dysfunctions and is especially helpful if you have experienced abuse or you have post-traumatic stress disorder.
Choice Men’s Health Can Help With Your Erectile Dysfunction
Stress and anxiety can cause stress-induced erectile dysfunction in many men.
If you are ready to tackle your erectile dysfunction symptoms head-on, it’s time to see the ED specialists at Choice Men’s Health.
Choice Men’s Health can customize an ED treatment plan for you to lead a happier, healthier life.
If you have questions about erectile dysfunction, Choice Men’s Health in Atlanta, Georgia, has been helping men enjoy a healthy sex life for years.