Erectile dysfunction is a common problem that affects as many as 30 million men in the United States. There are many probable causes of ED that range from poor lifestyle choices such as excessive smoking and drinking to physical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Most of the aforementioned physical conditions occur in older men. It may come as a shock to many young healthy men that they have ED when they seem to be doing all the right things to prevent it. It’s during times like these that you might want to consider a psychology-focused approach to your ED.
Can ED Be Caused By Psychological Factors?
The short answer is yes, psychological factors can indeed be the root cause of erectile dysfunction. However, to fully understand this, we first need to understand that there are three types of erections depending on the stimulus experienced. Reflexive erections are caused by physical stimulation while psychogenic erections are triggered by visual or mental images. Nocturnal erections occur during sleep.
Anxiety and stress can affect the brain’s ability to transmit the neural signals that are necessary to trigger an erection. Anxiety and stress can also cause an increase in heart rate, high blood pressure, and fatigue; all of which will affect your sexual performance and your overall motivation to participate in any activity.
Depression is often a result of a hormonal imbalance in the brain as well as the impeded ability of the hippocampus to produce new neurons. Intense anxiety and stress will eventually lead to depression, which will have a direct impact on the brain’s ability to regulate mood. Mood is necessary, not just for getting and maintaining an erection, but also for sexual performance.
Relationship problems can also cause ED, just as ED can cause relationship problems. Many couples rely on each other for emotional support. Relationship problems can hurt self-esteem and the sense of security, which will both affect a person’s perception. Relationship problems also intensify stress and anxiety and the lack of a secure relationship will compound the problems already presented by stress and anxiety. If the ED is caused exclusively by the relationship problems, fixing your relationship problems will often also help fix the ED.
How Do You Treat Psych-Related Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is more a symptom, than a direct result of a mental issue. This means that treating psych-related erectile dysfunction often means that treating the mental or emotional issue will also treat the ED. This entails the use of medication (for cases wherein the mental health issue is caused by a hormonal imbalance), therapy, time, and patience. As with many other health conditions, your best chance of successful treatment rests with working with a doctor.
Erectile dysfunction is more common now than in previous decades because of the ever-changing habits that we build. Most times, erectile dysfunction can be treated with Viagra and better lifestyle changes. Given the complexity of the social environment we operate in, erectile dysfunction can indeed be caused by psychological issues, and they need to be treated by addressing those same issues.