The intense “high” experienced when an individual cross dresses (especially the first few times) is known as gender euphoria. This “high” may be experienced each time a person dresses as the opposite gender. It may take months, or even years for gender euphoria to diminish. Even for those who have cross dressed in part for years, gender euphoria can still be experienced during that first exploration of full-enfemme. This elation is further intensified if the person is going through andropause, menopause or a change of life. A person who is chronically depressed or suffering from stress will often find a break from those negative feelings and by contrast experience even more of a rush.
The act of cross dressing may cause the brain to release endorphins. The intensity of this high may diminish over time, and the individual may seek additional stimulation by going out more in public, taking risks, or by prolonging the cross dressing experience. Sometimes a person may feel that this is “who they really are” inside and desire to continue in the opposite gender role full time. This is one of many reasons why someone who is considering a radical life style change should seek out a counselor or therapist. For some, gender euphoria is one step in the process of transition. For others, gender euphoria is nothing more than an intense experience and the desire to cross dress will diminish when the euphoria wears thin.
Endorphins are a group of substances formed within the body that naturally relieve pain. They have a similar chemical structure to morphine. In addition to their analgesic and pain-relieving effects, endorphins are thought to be involved in controlling the body’s response to stress, determining mood. They may also regulate the release of hormones from the pituitary gland, notably growth hormone and the gonadotropin hormones.
It is common knowledge that exercise can release endorphins into the blood stream. Endorphins are also released during orgasm, simple laughter and during the act of cross dressing. Activities that release endorphins may help to relieve stress and depression. The act of cross dressing may actually help treat depression and could be used as a form of self-prescribed therapy. A Duke University study released in 2000 showed that, for some people, a routine of exercising was as effective in lessening depression as taking the antidepressant Zoloft.
Cross dressing itself will not lead to depression, but the potential guilt associated with it can. Depression however, may lead to cross dressing in order to get relief from the depression. Like anything else, cross dressing can be abused. People can get addicted to cross dressing because of the endorphin high they get and during this high get a break from their other problems.
If your life is in order and you are using cross dressing for an occasional release of tension, then you may not have a serious problem. However, if your cross dressing is isolating you and you are feeling anxious, frustrated or lonely then you may want to seek out a professional therapist you can talk with. There is a difference between avoiding problems in your life and finding ways to relax while you deal with them.
In the end, it’s up to you to figure out whether or not cross dressing is fitting into your life in a positive way. If it isn’t, the next step is to figure out why. The articles and resources on this web site may help.
If you are dealing with sexual issues, a resource that might give you insight is:
Marty Klein, Ph.D.
Dr. Marty Klein has been a Licensed Marriage & Family Counselor and Sex Therapist for 24 years. He has aimed his entire career toward a single set of goals: telling the truth about sexuality, helping people feel sexually adequate & powerful, and supporting the healthy sexual expression and exploration of women and men.