Depression can affect anyone, and it can be treated by therapy, exercise, or medication,
depending on its severity and duration. For moderate to severe depression that doesn’t go
away after two weeks, doctors will often prescribe antidepressant medication.
A common type of antidepressants are known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. For
many people, they are very effective at relieving a persistent low mood. However, they do
have some side effects. For some patients, one of these is a plummeting sex drive, along
with difficulty becoming aroused, or staying aroused long enough to reach climax.
For men who also have issues with erectile dysfunction (ED), this can prove a complicated
situation. The original cause of their depression may have been ED, meaning that the root of
the problem is not resolved. On the other hand, ED might have been a symptom of
depression, and the effect of the medication will not resolve this problem either.
If the man didn’t have ED before starting the medication, they may find it becomes an issue
over the course of treatment, making their depression worse. It’s a common dilemma, and
it’s important to seek medical advice for the best course of action. Men may be advised to
lower the dose or switch to a different type of medication.
Urologist Dr Rena Malik explained to Men’s Health Magazine: “It is pretty common.
Fortunately, the data shows that once you stop taking these medications, very often sexual
function will return.”
She added: “However, it’s really important to take your depression and anxiety symptoms
into consideration when you decide to either alter or change medication and absolutely
talk to your primary care doctor or psychiatrist before making any changes.”
Some patients take a short break from their medication at weekends, or whenever they
want to partake in sexual activity. It may even be possible to time the time of day the
medication is taken, to avoid the strongest side effects.
If the loss of sex drive is caused or made worse by other issues, such as strains within a
relationship, worries about career or finances, or low self-esteem, it may be beneficial to
attend counselling or psychotherapy sessions, to get to the root cause of the problem.
Dr Malik explains: “Sexual function can be affected by so many things. If it does persist, it
really depends on how effective that medication is in controlling your depressive
She adds: “If you’re continuing to have ongoing depression, most often your doctor will take
you off that medication and onto an alternative medication that usually has less
sexual side effects.”
Some men find that taking supplementary medication, such as sildenafil (Viagra) or tadalafil
(Cialis), can help them become sexually aroused, and stay aroused long enough to have
satisfactory sexual intercourse. It’s important to talk to a doctor or pharmacist about your
general state of health first, however, to make sure they are suitable.
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