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The Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressants

The Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressants

If you suffer from depression, the goal of taking medications is to help put you on the right path to overcome your symptoms. But navigating that road can be even more difficult when you're dealing with sexual side effects from antidepressants.

Have Depression Meds Affected Your Drive?
A wide range of side effects may stem from taking antidepressants, such as weight gain, nausea, fatigue, insomnia, irritability and dry mouth, just to name a few. However, one of the most common side effects of taking antidepressants -- and probably the most difficult to talk about -- is sexual problems. People taking depression meds may experience:

  • A lack of sexual desire
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Trouble with orgasm
  • Issues with arousal and satisfaction

It's important to remember that sexual side effects can vary depending on what type of medication you're taking. The good news is that you have more control over those symptoms than you may think. Just keep in mind that you should never stop taking your meds without talking to your doctor first -- regardless of the side effects you experience from antidepressants. Doing so could cause your depression to worsen or return, and can lead to other health risks, including withdrawal.

Explore Your Options
If taking antidepressants has put the brakes on your sexual function, you've got plenty of options to regain your drive. Now, it's a good idea to note that sexual side effects may occur during the first several weeks of treatment and then go away on their own. But if they don't, your next step should be to work with your doctor and learn how to improve your treatment plan so your sex life doesn't have to suffer. Your doctor may recommend:

  • Reassessing your dosage
  • Taking another type of antidepressant
  • Taking your medication at a different time of day

In some cases, doctors may recommend another medication that might help improve your sexual function. For example, men may benefit from adding an erectile dysfunction medication into the mix, while women and men might net better sexual results by adding another type of antidepressant to their list of meds.

The key to getting your sex life back on track when you're battling depression is to be open with your doctor and discuss all of your symptoms and concerns. And do your best to be patient as you figure out what works and what doesn't. Don't forget to keep your eye on the prize, either. Your main goal is to beat depression so you can enjoy fully all that life has to offer -- especially those intimate and pleasurable moments with your partner.

Medically reviewed in June 2019.

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