Understanding the Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressants

Treating depression may cause difficulties with sexual experience. Here's what to know and how to address it.

assortment of pills

Updated on August 22, 2023.

If you experience depression, the goal of taking medications is to help ease your symptoms. But navigating that road can be more difficult if you're dealing with sexual side effects from antidepressants.

Have depression medications affected your sexual life?

A wide range of side effects may stem from taking antidepressants, such as weight gain, nausea, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, and dry mouth, to name a few. One of the most common side effects of taking antidepressants—and one that may be difficult for some poeple 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 healthcare provider (HCP) first, regardless of the side effects you experience from antidepressants. Stopping abruptly could cause your depression to worsen or return, and can lead to other health risks, including withdrawal.

Explore your options

If taking antidepressants has hampered your sexual function or enjoyment, there are options to help improve your experience with sex. It's worth noting that sexual side effects may occur during the first several weeks of antidepressant treatment and then go away on their own. But if they don't, your next step should be to work with your HCP and learn how to improve your treatment plan so your sex life doesn't have to suffer. Your HCP may recommend:

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

In some cases, HCPs may recommend another medication that might help improve your sexual function. For example, some people may benefit from adding an erectile dysfunction medication into the mix, while others 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 addressing your depression is to be open with your HCP 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 easey your depression so you can enjoy fully all that life has to offer—especially moments of intimacy and pleasure.

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