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A Placebo-Controlled, Randomized, Double-Blind Study of Adjunctive Bupropion Sustained Release in the Treatment of SSRI-Induced Sexual Dysfunction

J Clin Psychiatry 2005;66(7):844-848

Background: Sexual side effects are among the common reasons patients discontinue selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). While many antidotes have been proposed, few have been subjected to double-blind trials. Some evidence has suggested that bupropion may be an effective antidote for SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. In this double-blind trial, the efficacy of a standard dose of bupropion sustained release (SR) is evaluated in the treatment of SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction.

Method: Patients with a history of SSRI-induced sexual side effects were randomly assigned to adjunctive treatment with either bupropion SR 150 mg daily or placebo for 6 weeks. Assessments of sexual function and interest included the Arizona Sexual Experiences Scale (ASEX), Brief Index of Sexual Functioning, and a 10-point visual analogue scale. Efficacy was defined as a 50% improvement on the ASEX at the end of 6 weeks. Data were collected from January 1999 to March 2001.

Results: Forty-one patients entered the study and completed the 6-week trial. No significant differences were seen between placebo and bupropion SR on the ASEX or on any measure of sexual functioning at the end of the trial.

Conclusion: A fixed dose of 150 mg/day of bupropion SR taken in the morning does not appear to be effective in the treatment of SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. Additional trials will be required to define what role, if any, bupropion might have in the treatment of SSRI-induced sexual side effects.