Depression and Low Libido
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Decreased libido disproportionately affects patients with depression. The relationship between depression and decreased libido may be blurred, but treating one condition frequently improves the other. Medications used to treat depression may decrease libido and sexual function. Frequently, patients do not volunteer problems related to sexuality, and physicians rarely ask about such problems. Asking a depressed patient about libido and sexual function and tailoring treatment to minimize adverse effects on sexual function can significantly increase treatment compliance and improve the quality of the patient's life.

Symptomatic loss of libido is a common problem in the United States. In a national survey conducted in 1994, 33 percent of women and 17 percent of men reported sexual disinterest. In another survey, one third of women 18 to 59 years of age reported feeling a lack of sexual desire within the previous year. Patients with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder have an even higher prevalence of sexual dysfunction, including lowered libido, than the general population.

In one study it was found that more than 70 percent of depressed patients had a loss of sexual interest when not taking medication, and they reported that the severity of this loss of interest was worse than the other symptoms of depression. In this same study, libido declined with increasing severity of psychologic illness. The complex association between depression and lowered libido is further illustrated in a case control study in which increased lifetime prevalence rates of affective disorder were found among patients with inhibited sexual desire.

Regardless of the cause-and-effect relationship, depression and decreased libido are associated, and the treatment of one condition may improve the other. This article focuses on decreased libido associated with depression, the effects of treatment of depression on libido, and the effects of changes in libido and sexual functioning on compliance.

Diet for Depression
Neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and endorphin are responsible for regulating moods and behavior. The body is able to produce these neurotransmitters because of certain nutrients like protein, fatty acids and carbohydrates. Since these nutrients come from the food we consume, it is important to pay attention to your diet. Eating the right foods can help to prevent nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalances. This, in turn, helps to prevent or reduce mood changes and emotional disturbances, where dietary deficiencies may have been contributing factors. Here are some tips on what to eat to prevent depression:

The importance of eating a healthy breakfast cannot be stressed enough. It helps to maintain your blood sugar levels and thus keeps your moods stable. Oats make a good breakfast food because they help to combat stress and also keep your cholesterol levels in check.

Don?t drastically reduce fat from your diet. Some amount of fat is necessary for proper functioning. Try to ensure an intake of healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids which are found in foods such as nuts, fatty fish and seeds.

Add plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet as these will supply your body with a variety of essential vitamins and minerals.

Foods such as lean turkey, chicken and milk are high in tryptophan, an amino acid that stimulates the release of serotonin. Serotonin enhances mood.

Restrict your intake of caffeinated beverages and alcohol. Some studies have indicated a link between excessive coffee consumption and depression. Alcohol affects mood and can also interfere with sleep.

Avoid following restrictive or crash diets that eliminate an entire food group. These can considerably affect your normal body rhythm and may lead to hormonal imbalances.

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