LACK OF INTIMACY IN RELATIONSHIPS: SEX AND DEPRESSION
There are times in our lives when sex feels more like a duty rather than something to be enjoyed between two partners. It feels like the connection is gone which could lead to rippling effects in other parts of our lives leading to depression.
Having sex with someone doesn’t necessarily mean we are intimate with that person, Intimacy can be both emotional or physical, oftentimes both.
Emotional intimacy refers to a feeling of closeness with another person. This can be with a sexual partner, but can also occur with close friends and family members. Often, these relationships are characterized as interdependent, trusting, and committed.
In comparison, physical intimacy consists of closeness between two people. While this can be expressed platonically through hugs or handshakes, it is also commonly expressed through more sensual touches like kissing and sex.
Intimacy’s Impact on Mental Health
Healthy and intimate interpersonal relationships are a large component of mental health. Close relationships can not only give you a strong support system to better manage mental illness, but the intimacy they provide can also help fight symptoms of certain mental health disorders like depression. Humans are social creatures and are ultimately built to crave physical connection with others. Physical signs of affection can cover a wide range of actions from something platonic like a hug or handshake to something much more intimate like kissing or sex. Receiving and giving physical signs of affection can actually boost your mental health no matter the form in which you engage. In fact, research has found that those who are “touch-deprived” are more likely to experience stress or depression.
Sexual experiences, in particular, can have a significant effect on mental health. During sex, the brain releases dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin which are all neurotransmitters that boost feelings of happiness and relaxation, while also cutting stress hormone levels. This natural influx of chemicals can temporarily improve feelings of depression.
Similarly, the exercise and sleep benefits that often accompany sexual experiences can improve your daily health. Together, they can reduce symptoms of depression or anxiety such as fatigue and stress.
Factors that can improve Intimacy
- Be Open with Your Partner, Communication is Key.
- Focus on affectionate touch.
- Practice being more emotionally vulnerable during sex.
- Maintain a sense of curiosity about sexual intimacy.
- Make sex a priority.
- Engage in activities together.
- Seek counsel from a therapist.