Sexual side effects of antidepressants are common yet often people feel too embarrassed to discuss these with their doctor. To make it more complicated, a common symptom of depression is reduced interest in sexual activity. This can then be compounded by the antidepressants sexual side effects. If you are wondering about antidepressant sexual side effects, but too afraid to ask, I am writing this post for you! Here are several facts about antidepressants and sexual side effects so you can be more informed.
9 Facts about antidepressants sexual side effects:
1. It’s common!
Antidepressants sexual side effects are common: ~40% of people report sexual side effects on antidepressants
2. Sexual side effects are not permanent:
Antidepressant sexual side effects are not permanent. Although the side effect may remain for the duration of time the antidepressant is in your system, they will go away when the medication is gone. To be clear: I do not mean they will go away the day you stop taking your antidepressant. The medication is still in your system for some time after you stop it. The time it takes to clear depends on the medicine.
3. Don’t try to skip doses to minimize sexual side effects of antidepressants.
It is not helpful to skip the antidepressant on a day you may want to be sexually active. As I previously said, antidepressants take time to come out of ones body (weeks even) so skipping a dose on the same day will do nothing to minimize sexual side effects.
4. Antidepressants and sexual side effects vary in severity
Sexual side effects vary in severity: A person may have a mild side effect and be a little less interested in sexual intimacy, or it may take longer to have an orgasm. If the side effects are mild, many people do not see the need to alter their treatment regimen. On the other hand the side effects can be severe where a person has complete inability to get aroused (men may be unable to get an erection) or be unable to have an orgasm.
5. Sorting out depression effect vs medication side-effect:
Often people are uninterested in having sex while depressed. “I don’t want to have sex now. How will I know if I’m having this side effect?” Great question! As one’s depression is treated the interest in being sexually active may return. If the interest is there but the ability to get aroused isn’t, this could be an indication of antidepressant sexual side effects and not depression interfering with sex drive.
6. The least chance of antidepressant sexual side effects:
Wellbutrin and Remeron have the least chance of sexual side effects although may not always be an appropriate first choice for one’s medication. There are many factors that go into the decision of which medication to start: 6 Questions You Must Ask Before Choosing an Antidepressant
7. Initial claims of low sexual side effects. Can we believe them?
It seems as if every new antidepressant that comes to market claims low sexual side effects. Although I wish this to be true, I have become a skeptic because it seems that clinically, these claims do not pan out. First off, the initial research done is usually “industry-sponsored” (meaning paid for by the company who is making the medication) and the industry knows there is a huge market for antidepressants that don’t cause sexual side effects. Studies funded by parties very interested in one particular outcome are rife with possibilities for bias.
8. Antidepressants sexual side effects may not happen on a different medication.
Just because a person gets side effects on one antidepressant it doesn’t mean they will get them on the next one even when the other antidepressant has the same risk.
9. Trying the same medication again may not cause the same sexual side effects.
If there is a reason to retry a medication that previously caused sexual side effects it is not guaranteed the side effects will happen again. I don’t know why this happens but I have seen this several times in practice.
Sexual side effects of antidepressants:
If you are experiencing antidepressant sexual side effects bring it up with your physician. It is common and we hear it all the time. We will not be shocked!
Remember that the side effects will continue while taking the medication, so if it is bothering you we may need to switch to a different medication. Yes, the side effects could happen again but remember there is a ~60% chance they won’t!
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8 Facts About Antidepressant Side Effects
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