This Is Your Brain On Sex. This Is MY Brain On Sex.
By now, we all probably know that I am a highly-sexed, pleasure-seeking individual. I am a huge fan of both orgasms and instant gratification. (This is probably why I burned out my first vibrator’s motor within the first two weeks of owning it.) I also make no bones about the fact that I am a diagnosed depressive. That all being said, one of my personal quirks is an almost insatiable need to have repeat rounds of sex within a night.
For some men, this sounds like a dream come true. For others, as I’m shaking them awake at 4 AM and hissing, “I’m horny!” at them, it’s a nightmare. Especially since we were just doing the horizontal mambo just two hours ago, and their body hasn’t had a chance to “reload” yet. I’ve never understood WHY exactly it is that I prefer to have sex twice in a row (ideally)…I just knew that’s what it would take until my body AND mind let me out of Sexual Frustration Junction.
But today, I learned a new fact about human physiology: During sex pre-orgasm, your brain releases massive amounts of dopamine, the pleasure chemical, which floods your brain, making that pleasure and subsequent release literally ALL you can focus on. Post-orgasm, your brain registers your release and it starts producing serotonin and prolactin, which overrides and wipes out the dopamine, settling you into the satisfied sex-coma most are familiar with.
This is what normally happens. Now, let me explain to you what happens when a depressive person has sex.
Dopamine is released, as usual. Orgasm occurs. Serotonin and prolactin start to be secreted. But, here’s the issue: depression is a serotonin-deficient disease. A depressive person’s brain does not produce the same amount of serotonin that a normally-functioning person’s does. And so, you end up with someone whose brain, post-sex, post-orgasm, is still flooded with relatively high levels of dopamine. That’s right, the pleasure drug. It is literally IMPOSSIBLE for an un-medicated depressive person’s brain to produce the amount of serotonin that is required to shut off their pre-sex dopamine production. This keeps telling their body to expect good feelings and an impending orgasm. They are kept turned on, until, whether through time or repeat rises of serotonin production (aka: post-orgasm release,) it is finally all regulated back to normal.
What medication have I been taking on-and-off and NOT been taking every day for the past six months like I should be? My Zoloft. My much-needed serotonin supplement. I now suddenly know a little bit more about my sexual needs, body’s chemistry, and why I do what it is I do and why I need what I feel I need. For other people who have been diagnosed and live with depression, and for their sex partners, here’s hoping I just made your “why?”s a little clearer, too. It’s not a fun thing to live with, but by understanding your (sweetly malfunctioning) brain a little more, it can make a pain in the ass become a winning round during trivia night at your local bar.