Antidepressants: Can They Damage Your Sex Drive?

Americans take a lot of prescription drugs.
Americans take a lot of prescription drugs.
Americans take more medications than people in other developed countries, ranking first in the use of drugs for dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory diseases, as well as antipsychotics.

Generally, Americans have faster access to new drugs than patients elsewhere, partly because the United States is such an attractive market for pharmaceutical countries (accounting for 34% of the world market). Also, the US offers few market entry barriers for drugs that have gained approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

All drugs have side effects, and many commonly used drugs affect sex drive. Popular medications known to diminish sex drive in some users include:

  • Birth control pills
  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Opioids
  • Beta blockers
  • Medical marijuana
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants

The last two on this list are well-known for suppressing sex drive in those who take them to treat depression.

Antidepressants and Sex Drive: Known Phenomena

The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that depression affects 20% of American adults. It affects both men and women, and the antidepressants people take for the condition often have sexual side effects, which also affect both sexes. In fact, sexual side effects are one of the most common complaints from people who take antidepressants, and it’s not an easy topic to bring up with physicians. For one thing, it’s not easy to talk about sexual function in the first place. For another, when antidepressants successfully treat depression, giving a person back his or her energy and normal level of functioning in day-to-day life, sometimes decreased sex drive is an acceptable price to pay.

New research has found that not only can SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants dampen sex drive, they can also change the way a person taking them feels about his or her partner, and this may be even more troublesome than strictly sexual side effects.

Can Antidepressants Affect How You Feel About Your Partner?

A study published earlier this year in the Journal of Affective Disorders by researchers at the University of California, San Diego found that SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants can change features of loving relationships. Study participants reported not only decreased sex drive, but also lower feelings of personal connection with their partners. Moreover, the types of drugs appeared to have gender-specific effects on users.

Specifically, SSRIs tended to affect feelings of love in male users more than in female users. Conversely, tricyclic antidepressants had a greater effect on female users’ feelings toward their partners than on male users. The study included 192 individuals: 123 women and 69 men. One hundred and seventy-nine participants were in heterosexual relationships, while 13 were in homosexual relationships. All volunteers were self-described as being in love, in relationships ranging from seven months to 26 years in length.

In general, patients taking SSRIs were more likely to report loss of closeness with their partners and feeling less wishful that their relationships would last forever compared to those taking tricyclics. Men taking SSRIs were in particular less inclined toward their partners. Women taking tricyclic antidepressants complained of disturbances to their sex lives less often than male users of these medications, but reported lowered feelings of connectedness when taking them.

Researchers found the results thought-provoking, because of the possible danger of the loss of feelings of connectedness in people with depression. Study author Dr. Hagop S. Akiskal told Medical Daily such feelings should not be ignored, saying, “Certainly, a physician should always inquire whether there is any impairment in the love life during depressive illness, because the loss of sexual desire and sexual feelings are common manifestations of depressive illness itself.”

The “Foursome” That Can Spell Trouble

Writing for Men’s Health, Paul John Scott, a user of the SSRI Zoloft, says that the effects of antidepressants “can leave you wondering if your lover’s indifference derives from her heart, her head, her med, or a jumble of all three.” People who take antidepressants and subsequently experience a breakup may wonder whether the relationship would have failed anyway, or if the medications had a role.

Says Scott, “We live in the age of the foursome: you, her, and your respective pharmacists.” With so many adults today using antidepressants, there are large numbers of adults who may have little experience with sexual relationships uninfluenced by pharmaceuticals. On the other hand, people take antidepressants for good reasons, and they can have remarkable effects on the lives of those with clinical depression.

The study by Akiskal et al discussed above highlights the importance of those with depression being willing to bring up sexual or relationship issues that occurred after starting antidepressants with their physicians. Fortunately, there are many ways to manage sexual side effects of antidepressants. Whether managing the sexual side effects influences the feelings of love patients have for their partners is yet to be determined through scientific study.

Could antidepressants affect attachment, as well as sex drive?
Could antidepressants affect attachment, as well as sex drive?
Managing Side Effects from Antidepressants

Ways in which people manage the sexual side effects of antidepressants include:

  • Adjusting dosage to the lowest effective dose
  • Taking antidepressants at a time of day that’s typically after sexual activity
  • Changing to another antidepressant
  • Waiting it out, since some sexual side effects go away over time

When antidepressants cause fatigue, nausea, or weight gain, these side effects may affect sex life as well. Those who experience these side effects as well as sexual side effects may find that the nausea or fatigue seems to be the real culprit, and should discuss the issue with their physicians. There have also been studies in women indicating that engaging in cardio and strength training exercise can help limit the sexual side effects of antidepressants.

Conclusion

Depression can be crippling, and untreated, it is often detrimental to relationships and sexuality. However, antidepressants can also diminish sex drive, and possibly feelings of connectedness with a partner. These symptoms should never be ignored, because there are many ways to cope with them successfully with the help of a physician.

At eDrugstore.com, we’re committed to helping people maintain satisfying sexual relationships, and for over 15 years have dispensed lifestyle medications like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra to men experiencing erectile dysfunction. With over half a million satisfied customers, eDrugstore.com shows its commitment every day, through outstanding online ordering security, speedy shipping, and dedication to a great customer experience.

20 Pill Generic Viagra Offer