Is Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Completely Mental?

There are numerous reasons why men want to ensure their penis health, and one of the most common is the fear of erectile dysfunction. No man is anxious to get into the heat of sexual conquest only to discover that his main weapon is not going to win the battle for him. Yet some people believe that the main cause of erectile dysfunction is mental, rather than physical. Can this be so?

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In many, perhaps most, cases, erectile dysfunction is in fact the result of multiple factors. Penis health can play a role in it, as can overall health, the presence of issues such as diabetes, trauma, and so on. But also included on that list is one’s mental state of well-being.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and many doctors and researchers have demonstrated that one’s mental state can have a physical effect on the brain, altering the flow of chemicals and its very structure. While sex is not “all in the head,” much of the physical response involved in sexual activity is directly impacted by brain structure, especially the neurotransmitters that send and receive special signals throughout the body.

Stress and anxiety

One mental health issue that is often linked to sexual dysfunction is stress and anxiety. When a man feels stressed, he has a harder time concentrating and also has a more difficulty time accessing pleasure and relaxation zones. Anxiety is, on one level, stress taken to a higher degree; it has been compared to a continuous inner turmoil. With so much turmoil roiling the brain, performance anxiety comes to the fore. Learning to relax, to manage stress and to overcome anxiety can play a major role in fighting erectile dysfunction in many men.


According to some sources, the major cause of erectile dysfunction in younger man is depression. When a person is depressed, their outlook on all things takes a nosedive and they feel bad about themselves and about their situation in general. This in turn keeps the brain from working at capacity in terms of being open and receptive to neural messages regarding sex and sexual possibilities.

If depressed, a man needs to take steps to alleviate this state (and not just for the sake of having better sex). However, for some men, antidepressant medications may have the effective of worsening sexual problems. Working with a doctor to find the right treatment is essential.

Serious mental issues

In general, men with serious mental issues, such as bipolarism, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or panic disorder, are more prone to experiencing erectile issues than are men in the general population. Issues that negatively impact interpersonal relationships, which are common in these conditions, generally impact sexual performance as well. In addition, many anti-psychotic medications used in treatment of some of these disorders may also create erectile challenges.


If a man is experiencing erectile dysfunction and suspects that there may be a mental health component related to the problem, he should seek the attention of an appropriate professional. Psychologists, psychiatrists, or pyscho-therapists can provide help and can direct a patient to the specific kind of treatment he may require.

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