Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It's not Whiskey-dick; It's Effexor

Anorexia? Sexual Dysfunction? Anxiety? This is treatment?

From today's New York Times:

Coming of Age on Antidepressants addresses the concerns of psychiatrists (or, some psychiatrists--I've never been convinced psychiatrists have many concerns about anything) about the long term use of antidepressants beginning in childhood or early adolescence.

While the part I care about (the sex part) isn't until the end, it's a zinger:

Beyond these concerns, there are other important issues to consider in long-term use of antidepressants, especially in young people. One patient, a woman in her mid-20s, told me that she felt pressured by her boyfriend to have sex more often than she wanted. “I’ve always had a low sex drive,” she said.

For the past eight years she had been taking Zoloft, which like all the antidepressants in its class is known to lower libido and to interfere with sexual performance. She had understandably mistaken the side effect of the drug for her “normal” sexual desire and was shocked when I explained it: “And I thought it was just me!”

Drug companies and psychiatrists try to minimize the sexual side effects of antidepressants; at times, for good reason. A lower sex drive beats suicide, at least in the short term. But in the long term, the experience of low sex drive and/or reduced (or eliminated) orgasmic ability can be enough to cause relationship meltdown and, guess what? More depression.

I'm glad someone is paying attention to this. So many college students take antidepressants that the population-level effect of the sexual side effects is mind-boggling. Take heart, guys: it might not be whiskey dick after all: it's Effexor!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My partner recently came off 3 months of an antidepressant and 10 years of The Pill. She's totally chemical-free for the first time in her adult life.

Yeah, we have to use condoms now, but the increase in her sex drive is way worth it. Plus it seems more great sex is a natural antidepressant.

By the way, I can heartily recommend Pleasure Plus condoms, which have kind of a pouchy thing in the front, as hands-down the best we've tried.