Sex and anxiety disorders

In continuing my series on sexuality and mental health, today I would like to discuss the effects of anxiety disorders on sexual function.

As I have mentioned in other columns, there are a number of different anxiety disorders that involve symptoms of worry, tension, irritability and fear in a variety of situations.

These symptoms in themselves can cause problems when it comes to sexuality as it is very difficult to feel sexy when you are preoccupied with worries, are tense or irritable. Lower sexual is a common symptom of anxiety disorders.

One condition that very frequently involves problems in sexual function is social anxiety disorder. In this condition, a person is extremely anxious in social situations or when asked to do anything in public.

Generally, extreme self-consciousness is also a problem for individuals with social anxiety disorder and self-consciousness can be accompanied by sexual inhibition, inability to achieve orgasm in women and premature ejaculation in men.

Individuals who insist on having sex in the dark or on getting undressed without being seen are likely to be experiencing social anxiety.

Further, socially anxious people also have a very difficult time meeting new people and would likely be very fearful of asking others for a date.

Getting into an intimate relationship is very difficult for individuals with social anxiety and sometimes leads to inappropriate relationships as they end up with a person who is available and feels comfortable, but is not necessarily best suited to them.

Unfortunately, socially anxious individuals have a diminished capacity for selecting an appropriate mate since their choice is artificially restricted by their own avoidance of new people and situations.

Often, people suffering with social anxiety use alcohol as a coping device and this can further contribute to poor choices when partners are chosen while under the influence.

All of these sexual manifestations of anxiety can be overcome once they are recognized for what they are. The first step to getting better is to acknowledge the problem.

If you believe you may have an anxiety disorder and that it is affecting your ability to function sexually or in other areas of your life, speak with your doctor. There are a number of effective treatment strategies available.

Whenever possible, it is best to deal with these symptoms before a long term relationship is established since the resolution of inhibitions may affect the choice of a partner.

Okanagan Clinical Trials currently has several ongoing studies dealing with investigational treatments for anxiety disorders. For more information or for a free medical assessment, contact our office at 862-8141.


Current Studies

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