Psychological conditions and their effects on sexual performance

psychology sexual performanceProblems attaining or keeping an erection may surface for a number of reasons. Some of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction (ED) are psychological conditions. In order to seek the appropriate treatment, it is important to understand these mental health issues and the impact they can have on your sex life.


Depression is a very serious condition – more than just feelings of sadness, it represents a deep and long lasting feeling of hopelessness that causes the patient to lose interest in things they are normally quite fond of. It also has physical effects: severe loss of libido, fatigue and sleep issues are among the most common.

If you’ve lost your drive and motivation because of a profound depressive state, your body reacts to match this emotional state – when there is no enthusiasm for sexual intercourse, ED can surface. Treating depression via a psychological and psychiatric approach can help to eliminate ED. In these cases erectile dysfunction is a symptom of depression and not a condition in and of itself. However, medication used to treat depression can also be a cause and contribute to ED.


People have many concerns when it comes to sexual performance. Intercourse comes with many doubts and questions:

  • Is my penis big enough?
  • Does my partner really care about me?
  • Is my partner satisfied with our sex life?

When your brain is more focused on this constant questioning and the fear it can cause, the pleasurable side of sexual activity is completely ignored by your mind, resulting in a case of ED. Talking to their partners, taking the pressure off and remembering that sex is an enjoyable experience can often help patients maintain an erection.


Stress is a feeling of pressure, strain and worry in light of a particular situation or a combination of circumstances. Everyone experiences a certain level of stress in their lives – however, failure to cope with the stress caused by a particular event can result in physiological side effects.

Erectile Dysfunction is actually a common sign of high stress levels. Stress causes an increase in adrenaline which results in an increase in blood pressure. These physiological changes can lead to problems achieving an erection. In these cases, taking the pressure off the event causing the stress (loss of a job, meeting a deadline, or similar factors) can eliminate ED as a symptom. If stress comes from an emotional cause (for example, the loss of a loved one) counselling with a mental health professional is recommended in order to properly cope with the grieving process and the resulting ED.

Substance abuse

Abuse of certain substances like alcohol and nicotine is a very common cause of erectile dysfunction. Alcohol acts a depressant, which means things in your body start running slower or underperforming; this can apply to your erection as well. Nicotine also affects blood flow to the penis as it constricts blood vessels, causing circulation issues that can in turn result in problems obtaining or maintaining an erection. When ED is the result of substance abuse, treating the addiction can often eliminate it.

These are only a few of the possible causes of ED, and your General Practitioner can help you. Either by helping you overcome the psychological factors that may be causing your ED or by prescribing the best treatment. See your doctor – a better life is waiting for you.