Antidepressants And Sexual Health

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Dan Says:

I just wanted to take a minute to introduce myself on these forums. My name is Dan and I'm a social worker and I do mental health research. One of the issues that I see come up time and time again, but that is rarely openly discussed in my field, are the positive and negative effects antidepressants can have on sexual health. It's an area I'm researching more now, but am hopeful to converse about the topic here in an effort to learn more myself and to hopefully share some of my research/knowledge/projects too.

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Joe992d Says:

You are welcome on this site, but anti depressants are not good. They've caused more problems than just sexual health. Just like all meds that the government thinks they have to regulate these should be. Instead they think the answer is to let them control what we take, how much we can get, and test us to make sure we're not cheating. It's time that we all get together and put a stop to nosey Politicians butting into our health care, and telling us what we can take, how much we can take, and when to take it. I've decided that they can get their nose outta my ass. I quit going to their stingy pill mills.

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eliot Says:

I want to know more about antidepresants since I'm on medication for depression, how it affects sex , and how to live without them.

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HOUSE Says:

Hello Dan, I have been on venlafaxine for a little over a year now, and it has DEFINITELY had an effect on my sex life, in the worst of ways! I was using viagra, but insurance stopped coverage on it and I can't afford $380.00 for 8 pills! ( crazy I know ) anywho, hope this helps, HOUSE

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Bob Says:

I've been on Venlafaxine and have gradually been able to cut dosage wayyyy down, now down to 37.5 @ night. But this drug -- though helping me w/depression -- also affects libido in a negative way, along with ability to both get an erection and especially ejaculate. I was put on daily Cialis for BPH and getting up to go to the bathroom several times a night. The Cialis has greatly reduced the 'nightly bathroom visits', as well as helping with sexual problems.

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Dan Says:

Eliot,

I'm not sure what the policy is on links, and there is not a lot of comprehensive info on the topic, but antidepressants have been associated with problems around reduced libido/desire, problems with climaxing, problems getting lubricated (with women), problems feeling pleasure, and with numbing of the genitals, among other things.

Some people report having SOME of these issues and not others; and some people never have a problem with their libido.

Likewise, some people report that these problems persist after they stop their antidepressant. And some people report that they never have any of these problems. This is why it's an important area to study.

Unfortunately it's also not clear if different antidepressants are associated with these issues more than others.

Hope this helped a bit.

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Dan Says:

Bob, don't know if this is too personal, but did you find that the dose reduction helped with the problem? Its a tricky trade off for the person who finds the drug to help with mood.

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Dan Says:

HOUSE,

That's certainly a hefty price to pay!

I don't want to be too forward, but I'm working on an anonymous survey (anonymous even to me) that is trying to capture the changes in sexual health that people experience on antidepressants. I mentioned the possibility to the admins here about posting it, but will only do so if folks would be interested in it.

Otherwise, I'm more than happy to discuss the issue with anyone who is interested, as I think this would be a great place to learn and share info about the problem.

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HOUSE Says:

Dan, I think that you have an excellent idea here. I have no problem with a frank and open discussion concerning this topic. I really hope you get lots of responses.

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David Says:

In my experience, pharmaceutical antidepressants have a way of numbing one's emotions to the point of not feeling certain sensations or important biofeedback that stems from how we engage with our surroundings. This is not to say that all antidepressants are created equally...From a nutritional standpoint, various foods also carry chemicals that can act as antidepressants (including mango's, cacao, bananas, etc). I sense the difference is that the properties from these mood lifting substances tend to be synergistic (or recognizable) with the way our brains naturally operate; hence causing little/no side effects relative to a prescription antidepressant. Ironically, the three foods mentioned above also support the libido. Would anyone else agree?

@Eliot (post #2) - An intriguing way to live without antidepressants in my opinion is to focus your consciousness inward and begin to deliberately and frequently plant good thoughts in your mind through the power of intention. The key is to hold onto the vibration of that good feeling you create and cherish that moment for everything it's worth. If you practice this often enough I believe that you may eventually find antidepressants to be no more effective than the positive thoughts you put forth. That's just my observation though...

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Bob Says:

Dan -- you are not being too personal at all. I think -- perhaps -- I gave a reply that was 'misleading'. I have been on Venlaxafine for some time and gradually found that I was feeling so much better that -- with Doc's permission and assistance -- we, overtime, reduced the dosage. The reduction was NOT prompted because of the sexual issues, 'though the results were welcomed. Those on antidepressants NEED to make sure they are doing what is needed to feel better emotionally. Sometimes the 'trade-off issues' are difficult to deal with. I hope this helps.

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Tizzy Lish Says:

I'm on a couple of mental health drugs and I can get close to the mood, but the actual act is fake all of the time. I'm ready to turn to celibacy!!!

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12
Dan Says:

Bob,

Absolutely. Thanks for the clarification. And I agree, it is a complicated and sometimes difficult decision to make about what 'works best' for a particular person.

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Dan Says:

David,

It would seem to be the case that pharmaceutical antidepressants IMO have numerous effects on the physical and emotional responses of their users (perhaps not equally), but that also might be found in or mirrored by certain foods or other naturally occurring substances. This is particularly interesting to me, but something I don't know much about.

Does anyone know if St. John's Wart has the same effects on libido/etc., given that it is often given as an alternative to an antidepressant?

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14
Dan Says:

Bob, HOUSE, and other interested responders/readers:

Thanks for the great dialogue! I'm happy to discuss more, but will also briefly point out a possible opportunity for anyone interested, to participate in a short, anonymous survey on this topic. It is open to anyone 18 and up who is currently on an antidepressant.

The survey is looking to see how (for better or worse) antidepressants affect their user’s sexual health. No identifying information is requested. The link is here, and I’m happy to provide any more information if people would like:

http:/­/­survey.az1.qualtrics.com/­SE/­?SID=SV_57tzMrCkPFPI4st

Dan

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David Says:

Hi Dan,

Thank you for sharing your insight. I find this to be a really interesting topic as well; and also agree with your opinion on the notion that all types of antidepressants tend to affect people differently (regardless of their origin, be it pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, foods, herbs, roots, etc).

I suppose one could stem off this and even encompass non-physical & unconventional antidepressants such as music (i.e. certain frequencies/sound therapy), meditation, color therapy, laughter, surrounding oneself with good company/friends, and what effect these may have on someone's overall health/libido/or 'drive' per say.

As far as St. John's Wart is concerned, there was a time when I took it consistently for a couple months (along with 5-HTP) several years ago for seasonal affective disorder and for me I recall having mixed results in so far as how it influenced my day to day "drive" to do things. I correlate motivation/drive with libido in that this energy center of our body is what drives me to be more active, whether it be intimately, exercising, or taking on other types of tasks. On some days it worked great and on others I was skeptical. But being deficient in Vitamin D at the time (living in Portland, OR) probably contributed significantly to my depression.

During this time when I was battling seasonal affective disorder, I did find that juicing fresh fruits/veggies was probably the most effective thing I ever did in terms of how much and how quickly it lifted the ceiling of depression (without even the need for adjunctive therapy). However I couldn't always keep up with the costs of going through expensive produce like it was water, so that method was rather short lived.

I'd be curious to find out though if anyone one else has had positive results with similar unconventional antidepressant methods?

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Dan Says:

David,

I agree and will note its probably very difficult to actually separate libido and general energy levels; it might even be pointless to do so if they are so intertwined.

I'm a bit in the dark on alternative forms/modes of tackling depression and would be curious to know other's experiences.

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Bob Says:

I perhaps missed it, but has it been discussed with many anti-depressants, there is the side effect of terrible dreams and nightmares. I had this earlier in my taking Venlafaxine and it seemed to improve, or decrease. Recently it has returned to "full force" and BEYOND! Some of the worst nightmares I've had in my 71 years. Has anyone else experienced this? And, if so, did you find a resolution to this malady? Please excuse me if this is NOT appropriate for this particular thread of discussion. Thank you.

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Dan Says:

Bob,

Not overly familiar with the effects of antidepressants on dreaming, but there are general discussions on sleep disorders and the following 'case report' sheds some light on the matter:

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1978339

I can't offer any advice or suggestions, but I'm curious. You said it at one point stopped/decreased in frequency (the nightmares). Was that a result of a change in the medication (or dosage) or it just ceased to happen over time? If its return 'in full force' was associated with a change in dosage, perhaps it was the medication? Or perhaps some other feature of your diet/health?

These things are hard to disentangle.

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HOUSE Says:

Well bob, like I said earlier, I have been on just about all antidepressants over the years. It was not for depression but for anxiety, and yes, they all had negative sexual effects for me and many other people I have talked with, both male AND female! Lack of desire, ED in men,not to mention that none of them helps with my anxiety. ....benzos..of course, but with the same effects, sexualy speaking. But sometimes, the benefits out way the negative effects. ..sad but true. ..take care, HOUSE

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Bob Says:

House: I appreciate this site and the opportunity to discuss issues often neglected. My Venlafaxine has helped me and being able to - with Doc's assistance - to reduce dosage to almost minimal now (37.5). Still the horrific dreams though and I don't like that. The Cialis that Doc prescribed for my BPH, has helped with sexual side effects, some. Take care, friend.

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