7 Psychological Causes of ED & Treatment Options


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Erectile dysfunction is commonly considered a disorder caused by physical health issues — cardiovascular conditions, age, fitness levels, etc. The reality of ED is that not all of its causes are physical — some have to do with our mental health.

In fact, your mental health may play as big a role as your physical health in your erection quality. Everything from depression and stress to performance anxiety and pornography use might affect your ability to get and maintain an erection. Luckily, there are as many effective treatments as there are potential causes. So, take a deep breath.

Below, we’ve explained how psychological factors play a role in the development of ED. We’ve also talked about what you can do to treat psychological ED and enjoy a fulfilling, satisfying sex life.

The ED Mental Health Connection

When erectile dysfunction is related to a psychological problem, it’s referred to as psychological ED, or psychological impotence.

An estimated 30 million men in the United States are affected by ED, making it an extremely common issue. Statistics show that ED affects men of all ages, with some research suggesting that approximately 26 percent of new ED cases occur in men under the age of forty.

Those younger men are typically understood to be in better physical health. So, what gives?

Well, it’s not just about your physical health. In fact, erectile dysfunction issues are common symptoms of mental health issues like anxiety, depression and plenty of others.

In the same way you may not be able to get an erection if you’re being intimate with someone you’re not attractive to, there are plenty of other mental — psychological — blockers that can stand in the way of your sexual satisfaction.

But what are they? Well, let’s dig in. 

(Related: How do Premature Ejaculations Pills Work?)

Common Causes of Psychological ED

Like with physical ED, there’s no single psychological cause that can trigger erectile dysfunction in men. Instead, a variety of issues can all cause or contribute to psychological ED, such as:

  • Performance anxiety

  • General stress and anxiety

  • Relationship problems

  • Depression

  • Guilt and low self-esteem

  • Pornography use

Some medications used to treat psychological issues, such as antidepressants, can also play a role in the development of erectile dysfunction.

Many of these triggers are closely linked, and it’s entirely possible that you could be affected by more than one at a time.

Let’s take a closer look at each potential cause to understand how it can play a role in the development of psychological ED.

Performance Anxiety

In many ways, performance anxiety becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in the bedroom. You feel nervous about being able to satisfy your partner, so when you get into the bedroom, you panic and wind up not being able to perform. It’s a little “doom-loop” of sorts.

​​In some cases, sexual performance anxiety is triggered by negative self-talk — like if you’ve convinced yourself that you won’t be able to achieve an erection, please your partner or avoid ejaculating too early.

If you’ve found it difficult to get an erection in the past, these experiences may also stick in your mind and affect your ability to relax in the bedroom.

(Related: What is the Most Effective Male Enhancement Pill?

Stress and Anxiety

Though stress and anxiety are two different things, they’re closely related when it comes to the issue of erectile dysfunction.

Stress is often an underlying factor in erectile dysfunction. But over time, stress can cause anxiety, which in turn triggers more stress, creating a vicious cycle that can cause mental erectile dysfunction.

To give you some evidence of the link between anxiety, stress and ED, consider the results of a study published in 2015.

Researchers analyzed case records for 64 men with ED or premature ejaculation (PE), and found a significant link between ED and anxiety or depression. Of the 64 participants, eight had comorbid depressive disorders and 15 had anxiety disorders.

In the majority of the study participants, the mental health disorders predated the onset of sexual dysfunction, suggesting that they may have been a contributing factor.

Relationship Problems

So-called “mental block erectile dysfunction” can also lead to — or come from — relationship problems.

It could be the case that your erectile dysfunction is creating problems in the relationship —  another example of the cycle of ED that can affect many different aspects of your life.

Communication is the first step in resolving this particular cause of psychological ED, but it is also one of the most difficult steps to take.

Couples counseling is a safe space for two people who love each other to get help learning to listen and find the magic again.


Have you searched, “depression erectile dysfunction” wondering if your mental health is affecting your sex life? Depression‘s most common symptoms can go beyond a persistent sad, empty mood — they can make it difficult to take pleasure in much of anything.

Yes, including sex. And the worst part is that this mental ED can affect every man in any age group.

A 1998 study, for example, found that depression-related ED was independent of aging and demographics.

Depression is far from the only mental health condition that can affect your libido — there’s also a close relationship between post-traumatic stress disorder and erectile dysfunction.

Guilt and Low Self-Esteem

Many men who suffer from erectile dysfunction feel guilty about not being able to satisfy their partner. If the problem persists, the guilt becomes more than just a minor issue — it can often contribute to the ongoing cycle of mental ED as well.

Low self-esteem may also keep you down in more ways than one. If you don’t feel confident about your sexual performance or worry that you’re not attractive enough for your partner, this can heighten your risk of sexual performance issues.

Like with many other aspects of psychological erectile dysfunction, low self-esteem and sexual performance issues often make each other worse.

In a study published in the BMJ, researchers found that erectile dysfunction can cause serious distress in men, and that this distress can have a real impact on self-esteem and the quality of relationships.

Pornography Use

While watching porn isn’t inherently bad or harmful, excessive use of pornography may contribute to both depression and sexual performance issues such as ED.

It’s an important issue (regardless of what kind of porn you like), and our guide to pornography consumption and depression is worth reading if you’re unsure about your own relationship to porn at the moment.

Research also suggests that if you spend a lot of time watching — and masturbating to — pornography, you may develop unrealistic expectations about sex or about your sexual partners.

When this causes you to face difficulties mentally keeping a so-called “hard on,” it’s referred to as porn-induced erectile dysfunction.


This one has some psychological components and some physical components.

Although research is limited, masturbating too often may reduce your level of sexual satisfaction through something called “death grip” syndrome — being able to reach orgasm during masturbation but not during partnered sex or penetrative sex. Death grip syndrome doesn’t have a formal medical meaning, and its potential causes are manifold. In short, you get used to orgasming one way, so stimulation any other way doesn’t quite do it for you. You may also have a decrease in penile sensitivity due to how you masturbate.

The combination of porn-induced ED and death grip syndrome can affect your level of function and enjoyment from real-life sex.

This article originally appeared on Forhims.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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25 Weight-Loss “Tricks” You Should Stop Immediately

25 Weight-Loss “Tricks” You Should Stop Immediately

When it comes to diet and nutrition, we all want to find “the answer” that will fix our alleged problems. As a result, we often latch onto crazy diet ideas that, in the moment, sound like the perfect solution. But these too-good-to-be-true “solutions” can hurt more than help us in our attempts to achieve weight loss and gain healthy habits.

Here are some of the most common diet myths exposed.


The protein-pushing keto craze sure makes it seem like carbs should be avoided at all costs. But do grains deserve their bad reputation?

“People often say that carbs are fattening,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD. “But complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, are not ‘fattening’ foods.’”

In other words, avoid refined carbohydrates like white bread, rice and processed snacks, but keep those whole grains for a healthy balance.

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While diet sodas may be a better alternative than their full-sugar counterparts, medical studies are starting to show that the artificial sweeteners may actually cause us to eat more calories later in the day. If you want to keep the fizz and ditch the artificial sweetener, try flavored carbonated water instead.

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Like carbs, the type of fats we eat makes a difference. That, in combination with how many calories we eat each day, determines our body weight. Trans fats, typically found in many fried foods, can cause cardiovascular disease. However, saturated fats do not have the same effect and can, in fact, help keep us satisfied longer, leading to fewer calories consumed.

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Maybe you’ve only been eating the egg whites to avoid raising your cholesterol. Well, maybe you don’t have to anymore.

“Unless you are genetically predisposed to high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease, eating the eggs AND yolks can actually help you,” says Darin Hulslander, CEO and owner of DNS Performance and Nutrition. “For one, yolks are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Egg yolks also elevate high-density lipoproteins, which are the ‘good’ proteins that can help remove plaque from the arteries.”


If you count calories, you might think losing weight is as simple as staying under a certain number every day. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily true. You can eat 200 calories of lean protein or 200 calories of chocolate, but the body processes each differently. Depending on what you eat, your body can store or burn more calories. So, use those calories wisely!

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Reading headlines such as “red meat could lead to cancer” is frightening. And while some studies indicate there is an association with red meat consumption and cancer, it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean it causes cancer. Eating red meat in moderation is not dangerous.

Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

The American Heart Association recommends that people consume less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium (salt) each day. Excessive sodium can lead to high blood pressure. However, this doesn’t mean we have to eat bland food. Use salt in moderation and, if you have high blood pressure, talk with your doctor on the best guidelines for your individual needs.

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Sure, peanut butter is a good source of protein and fat. However, you need to be careful about what kind you put in your pantry. Many national brands of peanut butter are filled with extra sugar, fats and preservatives that counteract any health benefits. Check the label and pick up a jar with as few ingredients as possible to get the healthiest version of this favorite snack.

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Calories can’t tell time. The time of day of when you eat only matters if you tend to overindulge at the end of the day and eat too many calories. If you happen to eat a late dinner or snack but stay within your normal calorie range for the day, it should all even out in the long run. However, many people mindlessly eat at night because they are bored or tired, and this is what leads to weight gain.

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This is the one case where all calories are pretty much alike. Multiple studies show that eating the same amount of calories in either a few larger meals or more frequent smaller ones have the same outcome on the body. In other words, this is a case where 1,000 calories in a day are the same, no matter how often you eat during the day.

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With labels like “Lean Cuisine” and “Healthy Choice,” it’s easy to think that pre-packaged frozen meals are not only convenient but also a better choice to help us in our diet goals. This isn’t always the case. Many of these pre-packaged meals contain too much sodium, which can lead to water retention and bloat. Also, many offer too few calories, which can lead to hunger later on in the day. Check the labels carefully and make sure you’re making the best choice.


When looking to avoid processed carbohydrates, many people reach for wheat or multigrain bread over white. But be careful! Make sure you’re picking up 100% wheat or whole grain bread. Otherwise, you could be just be getting mostly white bread with a little wheat flour mixed in — or even just food coloring to make it look brown!

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This nutrition myth has been around forever, but it’s just not true for most people. Medical studies show that among extremely active people such as marathon runners and skiers, taking at least 200 milligrams of vitamin C every day can possibly cut the risk of getting a cold in half. But for most people, taking daily vitamin C did not seem to actually reduce the risk of getting a cold.

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Wouldn’t it be great if there were such a thing as a negative-calorie food? You know, the kind that burns more calories when we eat it than it has? Sadly, there is no such thing, even when it comes to something as healthy as a piece of celery.

“Regardless of the [calories] in the food, you’re always going to be able to get something out of it,” says Stephen Secor, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Alabama.

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Organic is simply how ingredients are grown, usually pesticide-, herbicide- and insecticide-free. An organic label does not mean it’s healthier than non-organic foods. Even things like sugar, granola bars and boxed mashed potatoes can be organic. So, don’t rely on an organic label to tell you if something is automatically better for your diet.

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While cutting out gluten from your diet can help if you have celiac disease, it isn’t really a factor in weight loss.

“Unless you suffer from celiac disease, there’s not much scientific support to back the claim that eating gluten-free is healthier or a smart strategy for weight loss,” says Ashvini Mashru MA, RD, LDN. “Cutting gluten out of your diet most often leads to a reduction in overall calories, simply due to the sheer amount of grain-based foods that we eat on a regular basis.”

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Fewer calories consumed means weight loss, right? Not so fast!

“In fact, studies have proven it to be the opposite: skipping meals promotes weight gain,” says Cheryl Forberg, RD, nutritionist for “The Biggest Loser.” “When we skip a meal, by the time we eat, we’re so hungry we consume too much, too fast and choose the wrong foods.”


Foods like asparagus and lemons are known as natural diuretics. And while these kinds of foods may not hurt when it comes to holding onto excess water, eating large amounts of them will not help get rid of belly bloat or weight.

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Your daily cup of coffee may give you a good dose of caffeine, which is a stimulant to your body. However, that caffeine jolt does not boost your metabolism enough to be a weight loss cure-all. Also, depending on what you add to your coffee (cream, flavorings, sugar), you could be adding extra calories to your day. So if you love a cup of joe, keep it basic and black, if possible.

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This is a short-term fix with many long-term problems. By severely cutting daily calories for extended periods of time, your entire metabolism can change to actually hold onto weight! Also, your body needs adequate nutrition to stay healthy. If you want to lose weight and keep it off forever, you need a modest calorie restriction plan that you simply continue and never stop.


You cannot outrun a bad diet. It’s as simple as that. Exercise is great for our cardiovascular health and for building good muscle tone. And yes, it does help regulate our weight. But the amount of exercise you have to do to counteract a few extra slices of pizza isn’t sustainable or reasonable. So work in a healthy diet plan along with your regular workouts for optimal results.

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In a pinch, these convenience items are helpful in maintaining a healthy diet. But things like shakes and nutrition bars are not meant to be long-term replacements for healthy meals. Check the ingredients for artificial sweeteners if you buy these items. Your best bet: Make these at home and use them occasionally.

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Yes, some people should probably cut back on sugar in order to make their diet healthier. But naturally sweet foods such as fruits are sources of important vitamins and minerals. The sweets to avoid are those with added sugars and syrups.

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Good news! While fresh vegetables are always a healthy option, so are most frozen varieties. Over time, fresh vegetables can lose nutrients, while frozen ones can retain them longer. Make sure you pick up frozen vegetables without added sauces, cheese or sodium to keep them as close to fresh as possible.

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Can you imagine life without ice cream, cookies or cake? You don’t have to in order to follow a healthy eating plan. In fact, planning to have some of your favorite treats occasionally can ensure you don’t feel deprived and end up splurging later on.

This article originally appeared on TheDelite and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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