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Tags: depression | antipsychotics | sexual health

Psychiatric Drugs and Sexual Side Effects

Dr. Aline Zoldbrod By Friday, 22 January 2016 04:00 PM EST Current | Bio | Archive

Are you taking medications for depression? Depression is nothing to sneeze at. Life doesn’t feel like it’s worth living if you are depressed, and it is hard to do your work and take care of other people.

Unfortunately, commonly prescribed antidepressant medication can have a negative impact on levels of sexual desire. Sometimes, taking an antidepressant can completely shut down your sex drive. Other times, it can make it much more difficult to reach orgasm.

For women who suffer from a deep and longstanding depression — even if your current medication has been a blessing — the cost-benefit analysis might support just staying on your medications.

But for women with less profound depression, it can be worth trying to change antidepressants to see if the sexual side effects can be ameliorated. \

Studies have shown that cognitive therapy can be as helpful as antidepressant medications for stemming depression, and even reduce the risk of relapse after medication use stops.

So if your sexual side effects are serious, and you think you could tolerate the challenge of switching to psychotherapy alone, that change could t save your sex life.

If antidepressants are making it more difficult for you to have an orgasm, my advice is: Don’t give up.

Sometimes, what the drugs do is simply postpone your orgasm. So instead of giving up in dismay when can’t achieve orgasm, ask your partner to be patient. You often will find that you have an orgasm; it just takes a little more focus and time than it used to.

Other psychiatric drugs can interfere with sexual functioning as well. Lithium and antipsychotics are also possible culprits.

Benzodiazepines, which most people call tranquilizers, might have been prescribed if you complained of anxiety, muscle spasms, or being irritated or agitated. Because these meds sedate you and relax your muscles, they can change your level of sexual interest and sensation. This is another situation in which a very targeted and active psychotherapy might help you more than medications.

I cannot speak highly enough about the treatment manuals produced by Drs. David Barlow and Michele Craske, world renowned experts in anxiety. These provide research-tested treatment for anxiety that you can do in your own home.

Just know that treating your anxiety with these cognitive-behavioral programs is a time commitment. But they are highly effective, and many mental health and medical professionals are not aware of them.

Most of the time, if you are someone who used to like sex, there are reasons why your interest has diminished. Good sex can be one of the greatest joys in life. I hope you will investigate what some of the medical causes of your diminished desire might be.

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Unfortunately, commonly prescribed antidepressant medication can have a negative impact on levels of sexual desire.
depression, antipsychotics, sexual health
Friday, 22 January 2016 04:00 PM
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