The street lamps are glowing outside your window and dusk has just passed as night falls on your street. You walk past the front door of your home, brushing past the masks you’ve just washed, to sit down to the dinner you’ve made for yourself; Missing when you could’ve made dinner for two. 

You start thinking about what you’d like to do after you finish your meal. A warm bath seems nice, with candlelight and bubbles to get you in the mood, and then when you slip out of the tub, you find something comfy to wear and open the bedside table drawer to pull out your new best friend since the pandemic started: your vibrator. 

Then you snap back into reality, feeling a sinking in your chest when you realize that as much as you’d like to do that for yourself, your body feels exhausted from being stuck in a confined space all day and your heart and mind feel cloudy and heavy from the world events happening outside the window.  

If this you, you’re not alone. 

According to an article from the Elsevier Public Health Emergency Collection, 47% of Americans say that COVID-19 has had a negative effect on their sex lives. 

The article notes that, while there isn’t enough data to know the full effect of COVID-19 on sexuality, social isolation has caused many to experience depression and, naturally, low libido as well.

The connection between low libido & depression can exist both on the surface, in situations we handle every day, as well as underneath, on a chemical level. 

According to an article titled The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use, the onset and continuation of COVID-19 have put many individuals in situations that can often precede mental illness such as job loss, isolation, and an extreme disruption in daily life. 

These circumstances are linked to the expanded likelihood of an individual developing anxiety, depression, and more due to the prolonged loneliness, sadness, worry, difficulty sleeping, difficulty eating, and increased alcohol and substance use these situations may motivate. 

Kelsey Feldman, a master’s student studying marriage and family therapy and psychology, explains that all of these circumstances and experiences can also affect your libido. 

Libido, a term used to reference an individuals overall desire for sex, isn’t a stagnant experience and can change many times throughout a lifetime. 

However when that experience starts to disrupt an individual’s daily life and wants, that individuals’ libido levels may become a concern.

This is particularly relevant when connected to depression as either a symptom of untreated depression or a side effect of medications taken to treat depression, according to Feldman. 

The connection between these two experiences can exist without each other and result from life circumstances, such as COVID-19, however, they can just as often be connected on a chemical level in the brain, explains Feldman. 

The chemicals associated with depression, called neurotransmitters, are dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, according to an article called The Chemistry of Depression

These chemicals also play a vital role in the excitatory systems of the brain that create the bodys’ physical experience of sexual desire according to a study from The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

If these chemicals are thrown out of balance, an individual could likely experience symptoms of depression and a change in libido. 

What then, do you do, when the circumstances of COVID-19 can’t be changed but maybe giving rise to a depressive mood and lack of a desire for sex?

The most important thing to do, tells Feldman, is to have some open dialogue with your partner (if you have one), your doctor, and your therapist. 

Open conversation between these parties can help you cope with the changes to your life caused by the pandemic, treat the distressing experiences you may be having through therapy and/or medicinal means, as well as feel a sense of support from the individuals in your COVID bubble.  

Everyone’s experience of the connection between libido and depression may be different so it’s important to speak to a licensed professional about these experiences so they can determine their interaction and how each and both may be best treated.  

If you’re interested in seeking out therapy to discuss COVID-19, your mental state, and libido, you can reach out to Rachel Wright through this form, follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Tik Tok,  as well as purchase her workshop: Loving your Libido to dive into what affects your libido, how to communicate with a partner about your sexual desires, and action steps you can take to address your libido.