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Sexual dysfunction and depression

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Sexual satisfaction can be jeopardized by dysfunction that occurs Sexual dysfunction and depression any stage of the sexual response cycle: Such problems occur in 43 percent of women and 31percent of men 1. The most common dysfunction for women is sexual arousal disorder 10—20 percentand for men it is premature ejaculation about 30 percent.

Sexual dysfunction can be caused by a variety of physical and psychological factors. Key among the psychological factors is anxiety. The role of anxiety in sexual dysfunction was first identified over 70 years ago 2.

What is it about anxiety that interferes with sexual functioning? Masters and Johnson yes, the scientist couple featured in Showtime's Masters of Sex were the first researchers to identify that fears about sexual performance or inadequacy are a major area of concern for couples who experience sexual dysfunction 3. What happens here is that anxiety prevents or inhibits autonomic nervous system response, which in turn prevents physiological arousal 4.

Interestingly, anxiety affects sexual arousal in different ways for different people 5. Sexual dysfunction and depression have found very different results between people with a history of sexual dysfunction and people with no history of sexual dysfunction.

For those with no history of dysfunction, anxiety sometimes actually increases arousal. People with otherwise good autonomic nervous functioning can experience a sexual arousal response to threat. The study that tested this administered an electric shock to participants while they were viewing pornographic material.

Sexual dysfunction and depression researchers found that those who were threatened with or received the shock experienced greater physiological arousal than those who were left to watch pornography in peace. Contrast this to another study that tested people with a history of sexual dysfunction in which the opposite was found. Those who experienced the anxiety-provoking shock or threat of shock were less likely to experience physiological arousal than were those who were told there would be no shock.

What do these studies tell us?

What can we Sexual dysfunction and depression from these seemingly conflicting findings? To start, they show us that physiological anxiety produces different results in different people.

This is partially due to personal history. Previous experiences of sexual dysfunction increase its likelihood in response to anxiety. In addition, a person's thought process can have a major impact on the likelihood of experiencing sexual dysfunction. Cognitive interference is the process by which thoughts and expectations can negatively affect the body's ability to regulate itself.

Cognitive interference plays a major role in sexual dysfunction 6. This is best exhibited by research that has shown an effect of sexual expectations on sexual functioning 7: When people expect to achieve normative sexual response, they are more likely to do so than when they expect sexual dysfunction.

Certain people are more likely to expect sexual dysfunction, or at least have concerns about their sexual functioning, than are others. Two major psychological sources influence how much people anticipate sexual dysfunction: Many people with anxiety or mood disorders experience sexual dysfunction 8but the degree varies greatly. Some people can experience dysfunction just a few times, while others will experience it in every instance of attempted sexual activity.

Having an anxiety disorder can cause people to develop sexual dysfunction Sexual dysfunction and depression. The reverse is also true that people with sexual disorders become more anxious Men who experience premature ejaculation or inhibited sexual enjoyment are up to 2.

Women with anxiety have an increased likelihood of arousal or orgasmic dysfunction up to 3. Looking at both men and women, anxiety is linked to a 2. A variety of anxiety and related disorders are linked to sexual dysfunction: Anxiety is associated with deficits in all phases of the sexual response cycle.

Additionally, depression directly influences sexual functioning and libido, compounding the effects on sexual functioning. Experiences of sexual dysfunction can often be very anxiety-provoking. Regardless of what causes the first instance e. Sexual dysfunction is often better thought of as a symptom or consequence of a person's anxiety or depression.

Breaking this cycle is largely dependent on how well the disorders are managed.

The common thread running through them is a distorted pattern of thinking about the self. Negative sexual experiences can condition an anxiety response in future sexual encounters. Avoidance is one of the most common ways to deal with anxiety.

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This is a natural response that has been shaped over thousands of years of human evolution. When we sense a threat, our natural response is to distance ourselves from it, which provides an immediate benefit. You can imagine thousands of years ago that this was a very helpful self-preservation trait.

Such a response to stress and anxiety today produces short-term benefit but long-term problems. By immediately leaving or avoiding a stressful situation altogether, anxiety will temporarily abate. But it remains unresolved and will return every time you are exposed to the same stress-inducing stimulus. Therefore, avoidance is not an effective strategy in Sexual dysfunction and depression anxiety.

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