Anxiety is an overwhelming condition. It distracts the mind, takes pleasure away from things that used to cause enjoyment, and can affect you on both a physical and a mental level.
So it should come as little surprise that anxiety affects libido, often in ways that are difficult to fully understand. Yet it is still very damaging emotionally and mentally. What causes these libido issues, and what can be done to solve it? We explore those ideas in this article.
Low Libido = Anxiety?
Libido is incredibly complex, but both anxiety and stress may be to blame. Take my anxiety test to find out if you're likely to suffer from anxiety, and what you can do to improve your long-term outlook.
How Anxiety Causes Low Libido
Libido is simply sexual desire, and of course, many things can decrease this desire beyond anxiety. Some of those things may even have a relationship to anxiety. If you want to find out more about whether or not you may have anxiety, make sure you take my free 7-minute anxiety test now.
For example, imagine that your relationship is struggling. You may suffer from low libido because you don't feel good about yourself or your relationship. That can also cause anxiety. So finding out the roots of your libido issues is always a challenge.
But anxiety is known to be a direct cause of low libido, and there are several reasons that this may occur:
- Unnatural Focus Sexual arousal is a very natural process that often comes subconsciously. Anxiety may create issues that cause things like arousal to become less natural, focusing your brain too much on what's going on so that you're not able to experience as many emotions naturally. If you're too much in your own head, it's often hard to feel enjoyable things physically.
- Distractions Anxiety is also intensely distracting. It's tough to feel any sexual energy when you're busy worrying about things. Indeed, worry itself is the enemy of healthy sexual desire. You can't have fantasies and experience the highs of attraction when you're too busy focusing on your health or the safety of the world around you.
- General Negative Emotions Indeed, negative emotions are a counter to positive emotions, and libido is a positive emotion. When you have worries and stress, it's nearly impossible to experience the highs that are necessary to feel as though you have sexual energy.
- Hormone Changes Stress affects your hormones, and while it's not entirely clear exactly what effects stress has on your hormone system, it's entirely possible that the hormones involved in arousal are altered by your anxiety and stress.
- Creation of Romantic Stress Anxiety can also be the cause (or a symptom) of romantic tension. If so, low arousal may not necessarily be the result of anxiety, but the problems that you have as a couple may make it feel as though you're losing your ability to find sexual attraction to someone to whom you would otherwise be attracted.
- Draining Anxiety is also a very draining condition. During the height of anxiety, you may feel completely fatigued - or even depressed - and this low energy can make it very hard to experience the high energy that is required to have a healthy and functioning libido.
One of the most amazing things about anxiety is that some people may even experience a reaction that is completely different. Some people have a greater libido as a response to anxiety, because the nervousness of anxiety causes arousal. But this is fairly uncommon. Many, many people experience drops in libido as a result of anxiety.
Are There Ways to Overcome that Low Libido?
The good news is that libido is something that you can address in some ways. As long as you suffer from anxiety, the risk of a low libido is still going to be there. But if you make some smart decisions you may be able to work on your libido more and find a bit more arousal.
Some strategies include:
- Make Love Anyway If you have a partner, try to spend some time together and make love even if you're not feeling entirely into it. Make sure your partner understands that it's because of anxiety so that they do not feel upset or saddened by your lack of interest, but try your best to make love and enjoy sex as best you can. Sometimes simply getting back in the lovemaking habit can have a positive benefit on your anxiety.
- Exercise and General Health Your general health does play a role in your ability to experience arousal, and so working on your general health is still important. Like with anxiety, every little bit helps. If you can improve your arousal by just a little bit, you can often leverage that into working your libido more yourself and making a real difference in the way you feel.
- Be Open With Your Anxiety Much like eating healthier, another thing that can reduce libido - especially if the issue is sexual arousal when near sexual situations - is being afraid to talk about it. Often you experience further anxiety because of that worry, which of course is unlikely to make your libido any better. Be as open as about it as possible.
None of these are going to work 100% of the time because none of these directly affect your anxiety. When you do experience a raised libido for any reason, try to enjoy it and remember the feeling. You'll often find that libido is something that you can leverage to become more interested in sex in the future, especially if that's something you work on regularly.
No matter what, make sure that you also focus on ways to reduce your anxiety as well. No matter how hard you try, you'll find it's often challenging to improve your libido if you continue to suffer from severe stress.
I've helped many people that suffer from a low libido improve their sex lives. Start with my free 7-minute anxiety test. Get your free anxiety profile and use it to learn more about how you can stop your anxiety.
Mathew, Roy J., and Maxine L. Weinman. Sexual dysfunctions in depression. Archives of Sexual Behavior 11.4 (1982): 323-328.
Figueira, Ivan, et al. Sexual dysfunction: a neglected complication of panic disorder and social phobia. Archives of Sexual Behavior 30.4 (2001): 369-377.
Bozman, Alan W. Covariation of sexual desire and sexual arousal: The effects of anger and anxiety. Archives of Sexual Behavior 20.1 (1991): 47-60.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Dec 06, 2017.