It's hard enough to live with anxiety. Every day is spent worrying over issues that may not even be important, or spending time trying to quell the numerous physical symptoms that anxiety seems to cause.
So when anxiety also has a symptom that can causes more anxiety, that can be a tremendous struggle. Unfortunately, anxiety can cause several symptoms that increase anxiety, and one of them is impotence.
Impotence = Anxiety?
Men that suffer from impotence often experience a great deal of stress. But what if that same anxiety is one of the issues leading to that impotence? Learn more about your anxiety by taking my free 7 minute anxiety test now.
Anxiety Can Induce Impotence
Impotence is absolutely a symptom of anxiety. The cause of sexual dysfunction in men can be incredibly difficult to diagnose, so if you're concerned you do need to talk to a doctor. Yet anxiety - especially severe anxiety - can cause a host of different issues that affect your libido, and impotence is one of them. Take my anxiety test to learn more.
The relationship that anxiety has to impotence is a complicated one, because each person experiences the effects of anxiety differently. Some people experience the opposite: premature ejaculation, where the man climaxes too quickly as a result of anxiety. Some men experience both. Some men are not affected by anxiety at all.
It's not clear what makes one person different from another, but it doesn't appear to be health related. Chances are it is simply the attractions in a person's libido, and the way that the body responds to how anxiety affects those attractions. In fact, anxiety may cause many different changes that could induce impotence. Some of these include:
- Overwhelmed Brain When you have severe anxiety, it essentially overwhelms your brain. Not just on a mental level either - it overloads your brain on a physical level as well. Studies have shown that when you have severe anxiety, "less important" parts of your brain slow down, since they're not as important as the parts of your brain dealing with anxiety. For some, one of the areas of the brain that may experience this shut down is the area used in sexual attraction.
- Negative Emotions Of course, it may not be as complex as an overwhelmed brain. Anxiety also creates some profound negative emotions. Unfortunately, these emotions can become problematic when it comes to sexual energy. It's harder for many men to feel sexual stimulation (a positive emotion) when they're also feeling negative emotions.
- Distracted Mind Also common is simply a distracted mind. If you're too worried about your anxieties and the symptoms, then it becomes much harder to keep a focus on the present moment, which is necessary if you hope to also obtain physical arousal during intimate moments. Even if it feels as though you're paying attention to the person in front of you, you may be distracted in your subconscious.
- Over Focused Mind An interesting separate problem is actually an "over-focused" mind. Some anxiety - especially panic disorder - causes someone to become too focused on the moment, especially if the moment is also causing a bit of anxiety (which most sexual arousal does). If you're paying too much attention to the moment than you may not be able to experience the natural energy necessary to become aroused. Arousal is an automatic/non-controlled response. If it's not automatic, it becomes much harder to do.
- Cortisol and Hormones Cortisol is a hormone released during times of stress. Anxiety releases these hormones regularly. During stress, cortisol is released in excess, while testosterone decreases by a significant amount. Similarly, studies have shown that cortisol has an effect on both the brain and body that could lead to impotence and sexual dysfunction.
One of the ironies of impotence caused by anxiety is that it can be self-sustaining. Many men need pride in their sexual prowess to be confident in the bedroom. When they're impotent, that confidence decreases, and it can bleed into their personal life in other ways.
That's one of the reasons that this type of sexual dysfunction can be such a significant issue for men. It fuels anxiety further and can make it even harder to control your anxiety in the future.
How to Overcome Impotence From Anxiety
Overcoming this impotence is a two-step process. The first is to try to ensure that sex is natural for you again, and something that creates a positive emotion. This involves talking to your partner, and making sure they understand that you have anxiety and it's affected your libido.
Many men try to keep it to themselves and hope it doesn't happen, but that just creates more fear and, ultimately, makes it more likely that you'll experience impotence. You are going to need to be open with your partner about the problem, and explain that your anxiety has affected you. Once you've done that, there are several things you can try:
- Try Other Intimacy Try to engage in other forms of intimacy that you can still enjoy despite your impotence. Remember, there are many ways to sexually satisfy someone even beyond sex, and if you engage in these activities you won't worry too much about your ability to get aroused.
- Have Intimate Non-Sexual Time Similarly, you should enjoy some time together where sex is completely off the table. In fact, you can make it a rule that you will not make love even if everything starts working smoothly. You can lay together, kiss, etc., but the rule is to not engage in any sexual activity. This way some of the pressure is off and you can focus on just being there with someone you care about.
- Make It Light Hearted You can also consider just trying to lighten the mood a little. Often that type of romantic time is very serious, as the two of you try to romance each other and enjoy sexual activity. But when you have anxiety, that seriousness can make you more focused on ensuring that you're able to get aroused. Instead, make it more comfortable. Turn on the TV, laugh, make jokes, have fun, and good around. Reducing some of the pressure of sex can improve how you feel when you're trying to be intimate.
This is the first step - to just enjoy activities that take some of the pressure of you so that you can get used to intimacy being more natural. It has to feel like something that isn't all about your impotence - a way that you spend time with someone else. It needs to also be something that doesn't cause significant anxiety every time, because even if you reduce anxiety you may still experience it in the bedroom.
The second step is simply reducing your anxiety. Since your impotency is the result of anxiety, reducing that anxiety can help you effectively stop the impotence from occurring.
I've helped many men suffering from impotence control their anxiety. Start with my free anxiety test first. This test examines your symptoms to give you recommendations on how to stop your anxiety forever.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.