Jerking off, rubbing one out, flicking the bean — No matter what you call it, masturbation is super fun. It also has hella impressive health benefits. Despite this, some peeps think there’s a link between masturbation and depression. Here’s the deal.

Illustration depicting masturbation depressionShare on Pinterest
Illustration by Brittany England

The short answer: No. There’s no scientific evidence to prove that masturbation can directly cause depression. So, why do peeps think self-love can make you sad?

People have been linking depression and masturbation for centuries — mostly because many religions and cultures say it’s a big no-no. So, while masturbation can’t physically cause depression, it might lead to feelings of guilt and anxiety due to its unnecessary taboo nature.

Depression can have a negative impact on your confidence, self-esteem, sleep, mood, diet, and (yes) sex drive.

Depression can take away your desire for sex (even the solitary kind). One study found that depressed participants reported lower libidos. Another study found that major depressive episodes in older people can cause sexual dysfunction (especially in people with penises).

Whether you’re riding solo or doing it with a partner(s), self-lovin’ has some amazing perks. Masturbation may:

  • reduce stress
  • aid relaxation
  • make sex better
  • improve sleep
  • raise self-esteem
  • release sexual tension
  • strengthen your pelvic floor
  • increase sexual sensitivity
  • ease period cramps and muscle tension
  • help you explore and understand your wants and needs

Masturbation comes with no bad physical side effects. (Maybe minus feeling sore after going at it too hard #NoRegrets.) But your me-time might cause an emotional reaction if you think you’re doing something wrong.

Masturbation guilt is common — especially if you were raised in a culture that thinks it’s immoral or dirty (News flash, it’s not!). Just remember, masturbation is totally natural and nothing to be ashamed of.

There’s no set limit as to how much someone should masturbate. But it’s possible to become mentally or emotionally impacted if you’re dealing with hypersexuality, compulsive masturbation, or out of control sexual behaviors. Signs of these behaviors include:

  • missing daily activities to masturbate
  • having a hard time focusing on other things
  • experiencing negative effects on your romantic and/or personal relationships from masturbating
  • feeling like masturbation is a chronic compulsion, not a pleasure

You deserve to feel like the best version of you. See a mental health professional, sex therapist, or doctor if your depression is starting to affect your life.

Some depression symptoms include:

The good news. There are loads of amazing ways to treat your depression. Your doctor might recommend therapy or medication.

Sometimes seeing a doctor or therapist right away isn’t an option. Here are some ways you can manage your depression yourself until you’re able to get professional help.

Download therapy apps

Online therapy apps are an amazing resource. They can help you:

  • manage triggers
  • cope with what’s going on
  • get in touch with your emotions

Some apps offer therapy tips, journaling, to-do lists, and daily practices. Others even have live therapists on call. This can be cheaper than traditional face-to-face therapy.

FYI: Some online therapy apps accept insurance.

Stay in touch with family and friends

Staying social when depressed can be a major challenge. But try not to cut your loved ones out. Having supportive people around can really help you feel better.

Reminder: You’re allowed to cut out people who make you depressed or don’t treat you the way you deserve.

Let’s get physical

Exercise is a great (and proven) way to ease anxiety and depression. Keep in mind, you don’t have to go full metal jacket status. Even a 20-minute walk on the reg can improve your mood.

Cut back the booze

Cracking open a bottle of bubbly might seem like a good idea when you’re feeling blue. But alcohol is a depressant. It’ll just make your symptoms worse, especially if you use booze as a coping mechanism. So, try to limit your alcohol intake.

Keep up a routine

Depression can throw your entire rhythm out of sync. But a daily routine can make a big difference. It can help give you a sense of normalcy. It may also help improve your eating and sleeping habits.

Slay your self-care

Whether it’s reading a book, taking a bath, or watching your fave movie — do something just for you every day. Doing a simple thing you enjoy can help make you feel like you again.

Masturbation can’t directly cause depression. It doesn’t make your palms hairy either. But it might be linked to feelings of guilt and anxiety thanks to cultural taboos. Just remember, masturbation is healthy and normal. And if you are feeling depressed know that you’re not alone. ❤️️