Dealing with depression is hard enough on its own. The crushing feeling of darkness and fear can hinder even the most basic tasks. Antidepressants are typically an effective way for depression to ameliorate. However, while they can help someone return to a sense of normalcy, antidepressants can interfere with one’s ability to perform intimately.
But that doesn’t mean you have to stop taking antidepressants or that there aren’t options. Instead, there’s still a good chance of balancing antidepressants with your sex life.
What Are the Antidepressant Side Effects?
Both depression and the usage of antidepressants carry several possible sexual side effects, such as low libido, vaginal dryness, erectile dysfunction and difficulty climaxing. These symptoms result from a lack of interest in people with depression and naturally decrease one’s ability to perform intimately due to an overall decrease in life enjoyment.
Antidepressants seemingly make this matter worse. People with depression have an average 65% chance to develop sexual dysfunction, while those treated with antidepressants had a 71% chance. However, it is misleading to think that all medication affects sexual functions equally.
What Medications Have the Most Side Effects?
The medications with known sexual side effects are also the most common prescriptions. These medications are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). Examples of these medications are:
- SSRIs: escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft);
- SNRIs: duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor)
While often effective antidepressants and frequently prescribed, these medications carry a high risk of sexual dysfunction as a side effect.
What Medications Have the Fewest Side Effects?
Medications with the fewest sexual disfunction side effects include Bupropion (Wellbutrin XL, Wellbutrin SR), Mirtazapine (Remeron), Vilazodone (Viibryd) and Vortioxetine (Trintellix). Unlike the SSRIs and SNRIs, these antidepressants are called atypical antidepressants because they do not fit into one of the other categories for antidepressants.
These medications are not commonly associated with sexual dysfunction and may allow those suffering from depression to treat their illness while minimizing sexual side effects. Bupropion, in particular, is frequently associated with maintained sexual function. By choosing one of these antidepressants, those suffering from depression and sexual dysfunction can minimize their symptoms.
Tips for Dealing with Depression and Sexual Dysfunction
Other than simply changing one’s medication, you can implement other practices to limit the effects of antidepressants on your sex life. While you can swap your medication or even talk to your doctor about lowering your dose, you can also time your medication to be taken after you have sex.
You can also talk to your doctor about taking periodic breaks from your medication, but it’s imperative you only do so if your doctor allows it.
Lastly, it is critical to keep open communication with your partner. Sexual dysfunction is a touchy subject, but you must be honest with your partner, even if it means doing such communication under the umbrella of relationship counseling.
A Parting Reminder
Ultimately, it is natural to feel discouraged by sexual dysfunction. However, by carefully choosing your medication, using it wisely and communicating with your partner, you will reduce the effects that depression has on your sex life.