All too often, this issue is ignored when antidepressants are prescribed by a family physician or general practitioner. Yet sexual side effects are important enough that they should be addressed. Although the focus of most depression treatment is on the alleviation of symptoms commonly associated with depressionsome people are more sensitive to sexual side effects than others in certain types of antidepressant medications.
The popular medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs see box can help lift people out from under a dark cloud of depression. But there are some side effects from antidepressantsincluding those that can affect your sex life. In addition to reducing interest in sex, SSRI medications can make it difficult to become aroused, sustain arousal, and reach orgasm.
Sexual side effects are among the most common complaints about antidepressants. According to the U. Department of Health and Human Services, clinical depression affects 1 in 5 adults in the United States.
In patients being treated for depression, which antidepressants have a low risk of sexual side effects? Bupropion Wellbutrinnefazodone Serzoneamitriptyline Elaviland moclobemide Manerix, a reversible inhibitor of monoamine oxidase type A not available in the United States have been shown to cause less sexual dysfunction than selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors SSRIs. Information from references 1 through 4.
The following information is NOT intended to endorse drugs or recommend therapy. While these reviews might be helpful, they are not a substitute for the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. What next?
Loss of sexual desire and difficulties performing during intimate encounters can be symptoms of depression, but they can also be side effects of many medications used to treat depression. While antidepressants are often integral to managing depression, sexuality is an important piece of a healthy life for many people. Experiencing sexual side effects from antidepressants can be frustrating and disheartening, but there are ways to address them.
Sexual side effects of antidepressant drugs are commonly observed 1. Patients who receive antidepressant drugs frequently report sexual dysfunction, which may affect all phases of the sexual response cycle, i. Delayed erection and anorgasmia are the most frequent sexual side effects, but spontaneous orgasms have also been described previously with venlafaxine 2paroxetine 3mirtazapine 4trazodone 5and bupropion sustained-release SR 6.
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Resulting sexual dysfunction can impair quality of life and intimate relationships and discourage patients from taking antidepressants Box 12. Although most reports have focused on SSRIs, all antidepressant classes have been associated with sexual dysfunction, with prevalence likely influenced by differences in neurotransmitter modulation Table 2. A recent study reported similarly high rates with mirtazapine, but its small sample size limits conclusions about side effect prevalence with this drug.
For the more than 16 million Americans living with depression, antidepressants are often an option in providing some relief from their symptoms. However, as with any new medication, side effects are common. And that means for some, sex is impossible. As with most health-related medication, knowledge is power.