While many individuals think of sex as being a function of simple biology, there are many other factors that contribute to your sexuality.


The biological factors include not only genetics, but our overall physical and mental health, and the presence of any outside substances like prescription or over-the-counter medications, illegal drugs, or alcohol.


Psychological factors may include an impaired self-image, history of abuse or trauma, depressed mood, or performance anxiety.


The quality of your relationships, the availability of a partner, or life stressors are all examples of interpersonal factors.


Sociocultural factors focus on your family upbringing as well as cultural and religious norms and expectations.1

Mood disorders tend to impact sexual health both through symptoms of these conditions as well as treatments commonly used.

Experiencing a depressed mood can lead to

  • lack of energy,
  • isolation,
  • decreased sexual desire, and
  • negative thoughts about self.

Experiencing an episode of mania may lead to

  • loss of inhibition,
  • promiscuity, and
  • inability to connect with a partner emotionally.

Medications commonly used to treat mood disorders sometimes impact

  • sexual desire,
  • amount of sexual lubrication,
  • ability to achieve orgasm, and
  • weight, which may lead a person to perceive a negative change in their physical appearance.

If you are experiencing sexual issues that you believe may be connected to your mood disorder due to either symptoms or treatment, it’s important to realize that there are different levels of sexual concerns.

The DSM-V identifies sexual concerns categories as

  • Sexual complaint: an expression of discontent related to a phase of the sexual response cycle or sexual pain.
  • Sexual dysfunction: sexual complaint plus distress.
  • Sexual disorder: persistent or recurrent complaint which causes personal distress and is not better explained by another condition.2

Regardless of the level, it’s important to take any sexual concerns seriously as they can impact your overall quality of life.

  1. Althof SE, et al. J Sex Med. 2005;26:793‐800.  Rosen RC, Barksy JL. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2006;334:515‐526; Meston CM. Western Journal of Medicine 1997;167(4):285‐290
  2. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision, Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2000; Basson R, et al. J Urol. 2000;163(3):888‐893