Treatment of Antidepressant-Induced Sexual Dysfunction

Michael J. Gitlin, MD


Medscape Psychiatry & Mental Health eJournal. 1998;3(3) 

In This Article

Abstract & Introduction

Sexual dysfunction is a common side effect of SSRIs, occurring in more than 30% of patients.

Sexual side effects have emerged as a major clinical concern with many of the newer antidepressants. Approximately 30% to 40% of patients on serotonergic antidepressants experience sexual dysfunction. Clinical trials of techniques to minimize or treat these side effects have been hampered by a lack of systematic inquiry on sexual dysfunction in antidepressant-treated patients. General strategies and specific drug antidotes to treat antidepressant-induced sexual side effects are discussed. These include such drugs as cyproheptadine, yohimbine, amantadine, buspirone, stimulants, and gingko biloba.

Side effects associated with psychotropic medications are associated with noncompliance that can potentially reduce clinical response to treatment. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have emerged as the dominant treatment for depression and other psychiatric disorders. However, sexual dysfunction is a major side effect of this group of psychotropic medications. Unfortunately, despite the astounding popularity of SSRIs in the US during the past 10 years, information on the prevalence and treatment of SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction is scant. This article reviews what is known about sexual side effects of antidepressants and strategies to treat them, relying heavily on the anecdotal data and case series that form the bulk of the published literature.


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