couple dealing with sexual side effects of antidepressants

How to Deal With Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressants

Highlights

  • In the United States, 18.4 percent of people have been diagnosed with depression at least once. 
  • Sexual side effects of antidepressants can include the loss of libido and erectile dysfunction. 
  • Switching antidepressants or changing dosage may help reduce sexual problems. 
  • Be careful about natural remedies for sexual dysfunctions; they may interact with antidepressants. 
  • If sexual side effects of medication are taking a toll on your emotions, consider psychotherapy. 
  • Most antidepressants can be used with ED medication, but speak with your doctor first. 

Depression is a silent, yet serious disease. In the United States alone, 18.4 percent of people have been diagnosed with depression at least once in their lives.

Thankfully, antidepressants work for most people, but there’s often a price to pay. Like many other medications, psychiatric treatments can cause physical and mental complications.

While some of the issues are easy to spot, sexual side effects of antidepressants often go unnoticed until they start causing trouble in your relationship.

Potential Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressants

It’s difficult to estimate the risk of sexual problems after taking antidepressants because there are many categories and types. The most popular ones are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Unfortunately, these are also the most likely to cause sexual side effects.

The prevalence of side effects from antidepressants is broad, from 5 to 93 percent.

These sexual difficulties occur most often:

  • Decreased libido. Some antidepressants work by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is known as a “feel good” chemical. Unfortunately, as serotonin levels increase, libido tends to decrease.
  • Erectile dysfunction. Men with depression sometimes can’t get erect because the illness affects their arousal. Antidepressants can make things worse. With SSRIs, for example, the increase of serotonin levels in the brain causes a cascade effect on other important chemicals, such as dopamine and testosterone, which can lead to erectile dysfunction.
  • Delayed orgasm. Being able to last longer in bed is a welcome ability for a man. But when it takes an eternity to experience climax, both you and your partner may get frustrated. A not-uncommon side effect of depression medication is difficulty reaching orgasm or complete loss of sexual pleasure for some men.

couple dealing with side effects of antidepressant Some men lose their sex drive on antidepressants.

Switching Antidepressants To Avoid Sexual Side Effects

If you’ve noticed a change in your sexual response after starting an antidepressant, your doctor will advise you to wait a few weeks. Antidepressant side effects often subside on their own.

But what if you’re faced with long-term sexual side effects from antidepressants? The good news is that switching medication or adjusting dosage could help. The bad news is that it’s hard to predict which drug and dose will work best for you.

There are several types of antidepressants, and side effects can vary widely from one to another, and from individual to individual. Another medication, such as bupropion, may be less likely to cause sexual side effects.

Finding the right antidepressant is often a matter of trial and error. Talk to your doctor about the possibility of changing yours.

Dealing With Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressants

If you’ve been diagnosed with depression, your priority is to get treatment. And treatment can sometimes be a balancing act. The best medication for your depression may have an unpleasant impact on your love life, but there are plenty of ways to cope.

Natural Remedies for Sexual Side Effects

If you want to boost your libido or sexual function naturally, start with lifestyle changes. Find a sport that’s fun and not too demanding — the key is to do it regularly. The exercise will improve your circulation and give you an energy boost.

Opt for outdoor activities, such as jogging or cycling, to get the added advantage of sunshine and natural light.

Be careful with herbal remedies for low sex drive or erectile dysfunction! Natural ingredients may interfere with antidepressant medication, leading to unpredictable interactions. And many “natural” male enhancement products contain hidden ingredients that are potentially harmful.

Always discuss over-the-counter products or supplements with your doctor.

Managing the Emotional Impact of Intimate Problems

Living with depression or sharing your life with someone who suffers from it can take an emotional toll — on you, your partner, and the relationship. If you feel like the sexual side effects of medications are adding to your discomfort, it may be time to add psychotherapy to your treatment.

Not only will it help secure the long-term effects of antidepressants, you’ll also learn ways to cope with sexual frustration and disappointment.

Couples therapy or sessions with a sexologist may also be useful to help you and your partner communicate about intimate issues.

therapy to support treatment with antidepressantsPsychotherapy can support the treatment with antidepressant medication.

Revitalizing Intimacy in Your Relationship

The great thing about sex is that there’s always room for improvement. Even if you’re dealing with sexual side effects of antidepressants, you can find ways to enjoy erotic moments.

Here are some ideas.

  • Add extra joy with the right toy. Gone are the days when sex toys were considered taboo. These days, you can find vibrators even at a drugstore! Try a penis ring for a stronger erection, or get a G-spot massager for your wife or girlfriend for those evenings when you can’t hold a strong erection.
  • Be there for your lover. Great sex involves teamwork. If you’re dealing with temporary issues, it doesn’t mean your partner has to give up on pleasure altogether. Offer her or him a sensual massage, or watch an adult film together and encourage your lover to masturbate and give you an unforgettable show!
  • Focus on the journey. If antidepressants have dampened your sexual sensations or ability to orgasm, explore the sensual side of intimacy. Explore temperature play, using ice cubes on different body parts. Another great option: Become the master of erotic mindfulness. Focus entirely on the sensations you feel when your lover is touching you. You’ll be surprised how much fun you can have even without a climax.

Don’t Let Antidepressants Spoil the Fun

You should never underestimate depression, and getting the right treatment is the best way forward. While sexual side effects of antidepressants are common, they often go away after a few weeks. If they don’t, speak to your doctor about switching to another medication or adjusting your dose.

While there’s no pill for low libido in men, you can deal with erectile dysfunction with FDA-approved medication, such as Viagra, Cialis, vardenafil (formerly Levitra), or Stendra, or their generic equivalents.

It’s usually considered safe to take ED medication with antidepressants, but always check with your doctor before introducing a new medication to your regimen.

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Disclaimer: This article provides general information about health and related topics but is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 

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