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Substitution of an SSRI With Bupropion Sustained Release Following SSRI-Induced Sexual Dysfunction

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(3):185-190

Background: We examine changes in sexual functioning and depressive symptoms in patients' transition from a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which induced both a therapeutic response and sexual dysfunction, to bupropion sustained release (SR) over the course of an 8-week trial.

Method: The study included 11 adults (8 women and 3 men) who had a DSM-IV diagnosis of major depressive disorder in remission (Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression [HAM-D] score < 11) and were receiving an SSRI. Depression (using the HAM-D) and sexual dysfunction (using the Changes in Sexual Functioning Questionnaire) were assessed at baseline, 2 weeks after bupropion SR was added to the current antidepressant (combined treatment), 2 weeks after taper of the SSRI was initiated and completed, and after 4 weeks of bupropion SR monotherapy. T tests were performed to assess changes in depression and sexual function.

Results: Patient participation dropped from the initial group of 11 at week 2 to 9 at week 4 and to 6 by week 8. Sexual functioning improved from week 0 (baseline) to week 2 and from week 2 to week 4. The patients showed no significant change in mean HAM-D scores in weekly comparisons during the study period; 55% of patients completed the substitution without significant adverse events or recurrence of depressive symptoms.

Conclusion: Bupropion SR as a treatment for depression also alleviates sexual dysfunction due to SSRI treatment. Results show that sexual functioning improves after the addition of bupropion SR to SSRI treatment and continues to improve, after discontinuation of the SSRI, with bupropion SR treatment alone.