Seasonal Affective Disorder and Your Libido
We’ve all been there. The days get shorter and darker. The weather changes for the worse, and so does our overall sense of wellbeing. For many, the change of seasons can signal a downturn in mood, but for around five percent of the population, especially those living far from the equator, up to 40 percent of their year may be altered by something known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.
SAD can have a significant impact on people in a number of ways, including an impact on libido and sexual desire. Here’s what you need to know about it.
What is SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression brought on by the change of seasons and limited natural light. This can have an influence on the body’s production of serotonin and dopamine, both of which affect mood, libido, and behavior. Like all mental health issues, there are also effects on the physical body.
- Sexual dysfunction, loss of sexual appetite/drive
- Low energy, listlessness or restlessness
- Problems falling asleep or staying asleep or oversleeping
- Changes in appetite or weight
Additionally, SAD can also cause difficulty concentrating, and for some, thoughts of death or suicide.
Sex and SAD
You may see the effects of SAD in your sexual self first, or it may not show up in the bedroom at all. Everyone is different. Sadly, many of the medications prescribed to manage depression make arousal and orgasm more difficult. This creates a vicious cycle that can affect your sexual self esteem. When the appetite for sex and pleasure dries up, we often feel like some part of us is “broken.” It’s essential to remember that SAD is temporary and treatable. Don’t lose hope if you’re not horny through the longest nights of the year.
Don’t forget, sex and intimacy are not the same thing. You can get, and give, plenty of affection and intimate energy to a partner even if you aren’t up for sex. There may be physical dysfunction, such as an inability to become or stay aroused. This can be a jarring and upsetting revelation, but it by no means indicates that something is permanently wrong with you. Your mind and body are simply low on the resources that make sex fun and desirable.
Getting through SAD season
Living well with SAD means making changes that set you up for success. Therapy, especially Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can be part of an effective treatment plan for SAD and the sexual issues that come with it. Additionally, there are lots of online resources around CBT and SAD that you can access for free.
Take care of your body and mind, for sex sake!
SAD may leave you feeling, well, sad. That is par for the course, but it doesn’t mean you are powerless. It just means you’ll have to get your pleasure where you can! Not all pleasure is sexual, but getting in tune with what makes your body feel good will be good for your brain chemistry. Engage in sex, masturbate, take a hot bath, watch a show that makes you laugh. Basically do something that gives you that feel-good feeling.
Changes in libido can be stressful and worrying, but knowing that a dip in your sex drive is a part of SAD can help you keep it in perspective. There are lots of small things you can do to feel as good as you can, sexually, while in a seasonal funk:
- Indulging in some body self-care is essential in the maintenance of SAD, no matter your symptoms. When we feel in touch with our bodies, we are more at ease and arousal is easier to achieve.
- Change it up! This may be a great time to reignite your libido by buying some new sex toys. Order something fun, make a list of fantasies, or try some sexting or dirty talk with a willing partner.
- Your body is a temple, even if it is struggling. Stay hydrated, my friends! It keeps us limber and regular, two things that make the prospect of sex less daunting. It’s hard to feel sexy when constipated with stiff muscles or joints.
- Exercise, even though you won’t want to. It will produce the endorphins your brain craves and make you more easily aroused. Bonus points if you get that exercise outdoors! Getting some natural light on your face, even if it’s not full sun, for 20 to 40 minutes a day will help lessen the effects of SAD. You can also take a “light bath” in front of a full spectrum lamp. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
- Take your vitamins! Vitamins C and D3, zinc, magnesium and melatonin are all commonly prescribed for SAD and readily available.
Libido issues from SAD can be overwhelming, so it’s important to remember that they won’t last forever and you are not alone. Speak to a doctor and take care of yourself. Remember: it’s okay to prioritize yourself, your health and your sexual needs. You come first, no matter the season.
Does SAD impact your libido? How do you handle it? Share with us in the comments below!