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Both erectile dysfunction and depression are common diseases in society on their own. When they are combined, it can be a very difficult challenge for both the doctor and the patient to find relief and improve the quality of life in the patients.

Erectile dysfunction is a growing concern in society and can be caused by a number of factors. Poor circulation, surgical procedures or depression are some of the main underlying etiologies of why patients eventually present with erectile dysfunction [1]. Considering the fast pace of the modern world, it is no surprise that stress, anxiety and eventually, depression can lead to erectile dysfunction. Various natural treatments for erectile dysfunction can be utilized in order to help patients find temporary relief. Some vitamins and dietary supplements for ED that help those suffering from depression include Vitamin D and Vitamin B3. If these fail, patients can turn to more potent anti-depressant medication but there are no guarantees that this can help erectile dysfunction either. Erectile dysfunction and depression usually come in a vicious cycle so, in this article, I'll present the underlying mechanism and some advice on how to break out of the abyss. 

The Link Between Erectile Dysfunction and Depression 

Depression is a very common condition and is a blanket-term to describe a cascade of varying symptoms that can greatly reduce the quality of life in those suffering from the condition [2]. Generally, these symptoms can range from problems with sleep and concentration, persistent sadness and even contemplating suicide and it is paramount that physicians adequately screen all patients to make sure these symptoms do not go unnoticed [3]. As a person ages, it is only natural for depression to creep into their lives as they become more aware of their own mortality. An unfortunate truth about age is that humans are quite different than fine wines or cheeses; as we age, things generally get worse in us. Sexual function declines and that can lead to depression on its own as patients are reminded they are getting older. 

Studies indicate that there is a very strong correlation between erectile dysfunction and depression [4]. In one cross-sectional study, researchers mailed surveys to patients asking about if patients suffered from depression and also had erectile dysfunction. Results indicated that older patients tended to have a greater chance of having erectile dysfunction and concomitant depression. [5] In another study, 64 men suffering from erectile dysfunction were asked about their symptoms. After this investigation, it was determined that 13 percent had depression while 26 percent had underlying anxiety issues. [6]

How to Break Out of the Vicious Cycle 

It should be obvious now that there is a link between the two diseases but treatment is not as simple as taking medications and resume a normal life in most cases. Unfortunately, most of the anti-depressant medications on the market, especially almost the entire selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class (SSRIs) which are the gold-standard treatment options for patients with depression will cause erectile dysfunction. [7] An unfortunate truth is that when a physician is dealing with patients suffering from depression, they are often found in a "Catch-22" situation. Giving an anti-depressant is the best way to rectify a patient's low mood yet the side effects panel can lead to erectile dysfunction. This can very likely lead to further depression secondary to the erectile dysfunction so you can see where the frustration can come from quite easily. 

Preliminary studies indicate that the best way to break out of this vicious cycle would be to treat the erectile dysfunction directly. In one particular study, 152 patients suffering from both erectile dysfunction and depression were given doses of Viagra in order to see what the response would be in patients. In this investigation, it was determined that there was a statistically significant improvement in erectile function of patients who had taken Viagra to correct their condition compared to the control group. In addition, it was also determined that 78 percent of patients from the Viagra-group reported a decrease in their depressive symptoms by over 50 percent. [8] This indicates that when helping patients manage their erectile dysfunction, they are more likely to be less depressed. 

Another study took Viagra one step further to determine what types of depression and erectile dysfunction this medication could be considered to be an effective treatment. This study indicated that patients can benefit substantially from taking Viagra if they are suffering from minor depression, erectile dysfunction as a side effect from standard treatments with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or in cases where SSRIs did not help patients with depression. [9]

All in all, treating depression and erectile dysfunction is challenging but not impossible. Patients suffering from both can also utilize some of the natural treatments for erectile dysfunction to find relief. Vitamins and dietary supplements for ED can be beneficial, especially Vitamin D and B3 if patients are wary of using strong pharmacological avenues in order to find more rapid relief. 

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