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Depression and Erectile Dysfunction

Mental health and wellness can be a deciding factor in erectile dysfunction (ED).

Listen to Depression and Erectile Dysfunction through our podcast player above or read the podcast transcript here [PDF].

Mental health and wellness can be a deciding factor in erectile dysfunction (ED). Being aware of this is vital to strong erections and sexual satisfaction.

Your mood is a primary area of mental health and having a down or depressed mood can adversely impact erections and the erectile process. It leads to ED.

Depression is a mental health issue. It can be a serious mental illness. An estimated 30% of men will have at least a bout of depression over their lifetime, according to recent studies cited by the American Psychological Association.

With depression being common and the possibility of these symptoms impacting and causing ED, it is wise to explore this aspect of your life and invest time in your mental wellness. If you are facing dire depression, it is not enough to address symptoms for the sake of easing your erectile dysfunction alone. This is not an adequate approach or treatment for depression.

Depression should be treated with a mental health professional, a medical professional, or a combination of the two. However, many men will suffer symptoms of depression, and they may not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of depression. They also may not want (or need) treatment.

Depression exists on a scale and all people feel elements of depression at times. Those elements of depression can have a negative impact on erections.


You do not need to have a diagnosis of depression to feel symptoms of depression that cause erectile dysfunction. It is a mistake to assume that because you do not have a diagnosis of depression these symptoms cannot be impacting your erections.

Many men feel one or two depression symptoms like anhedonia (loss of pleasure) or apathy that may be caused by situations in their life. These can be bad enough to negatively impact erections and play a role in erectile dysfunction. For some men, when they resolve depression, they can resolve their ED.

Symptoms of Depression and ED

Two symptoms of depression that often go hand in hand are loss of energy and change in sleep patterns, most commonly leading to fatigue. Both symptoms make gaining and maintaining an erection more difficult. Erections need energy, both physical and mental.

Regardless of depression, there are times that someone may feel drained or exhausted. This can lead to a decrease in libido, less robust and consistent erections, and a decrease in sexual activity. Your energy levels make a difference. Addressing the root cause of fatigue and low energy can make a difference in your erection process.


A hallmark symptom of depression is anhedonia. Anhedonia is the loss of pleasure or enjoyment in activities that previously were enjoyable. Pleasure and desire are factors that many men need to achieve erections.

If you do not want sexual pleasure or are not interested in it, it is going to be very difficult to gain and maintain an erection.

One of the ways to differentiate between loss of libido and anhedonia is whether there is a loss of pleasure in any other areas of life. Generally speaking, if you’re experiencing anhedonia, it will not be limited to sex.

It may be present in other areas of your life including hobbies, social activities, and other forms of pleasure. If this is only happening in the sexual realm it could be caused by depression-based anhedonia, but it is more likely to be caused by a general loss of libido.

Low Self-Esteem

Another symptom of depression that can affect erections is feeling worthless or having low self-esteem. This too is not exclusive to depression. How you feel about yourself is going to impact your erections.

If you feel good about yourself, you are far more likely to gain and maintain an erection. If you believe you are not worthy of pleasure, or that you are not good enough for your partner, it can hurt the natural erection process.


Isolation is a common experience associated with depression. If someone prefers to be alone there is nothing wrong with that per se, but for some people it can be a sign of depression. Isolation, or the desire to be alone, can have a negative impact on relationships and erections in a partnered setting.

If you do not want to be with your partner, your mind relays that message to your body, and your erections will suffer.

Try our eCourse: "The Thinking Man’s Guide to Understanding and Addressing ED"

If you are facing any of these symptoms, it is important to consider working with a medical or mental health professional to help you.

If you are depressed, a more comprehensive treatment approach is likely going to benefit not only your erection process, but your general wellbeing too. If you have ruled out a diagnosis of depression, preferably with a professional, working on a strategy to address the specific symptoms may help improve erections.

Do not neglect this part of the treatment process. Many of the symptoms of depression directly impact sexual desire which is a key component in activating your natural erection process and improving the efficacy of medication when it is needed.

Yes, medications still need desire and arousal to help produce an erection. If you are not experiencing desire and arousal, the medication is far less likely to work and produce the erections you want.

For optimal erections, you need optimal mental health. The less symptoms of depression, the better positioned you will be. And do not forgot – it is “not all or nothing.” Every step makes a difference.

Ready to Learn More?

To start your in-depth approach to resolving ED, try our online learning course called BEYOND THE LITTLE BLUE PILL, The Thinking Man’s Guide to Understanding and Addressing ED


Ready to talk to an ED expert? Erection IQ founder Mark Goldberg helps men resolve erectile dysfunction. He offers individual, one-on-one services to men throughout the world through a secure, telehealth platform. It’s 100% confidential. You can visit the Center for Intimacy, Connection and Change website to schedule a free consult with Mark.


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Article Updated – March 2021