Sexual effects of antidepressants

Depression is a serious and surprisingly common illness. Depression itself can be devastating to sexuality, usually affecting desire the most, but often interfering with sexual performance as well. Antidepressants work miraculously for many people, alleviating their overwhelming feelings of futility, sadness, fatigue, and irritation and restoring their enthusiasm for life. Yet some types of antidepressants, including tricyclics, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can have a serious impact on libido and sexual pleasure even if the depression is adequately treated.

SSRIs are the most commonly used antidepressants in the U.S. These drugs, which are sold under the brand names of Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil, work by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Although serotonin very effectively combats depression, unfortunately it also inhibits sexual desire and orgasm and delays ejaculation.

If you take an SSRI-class of antidepressant and believe that it has interfered with your sex life, speak with your doctor. Please do consult your physician before taking any course of action. You might be able to switch to a different type of antidepressant. For example, Wellbutrin (bupropion) is considered to have little or no effect on sexual function and is therefore labeled "sex friendly".