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Strategies for the Treatment of Antidepressant-Related Sexual Dysfunction

John Zajecka, MD

Published: February 1, 2001

Article Abstract

Sexual dysfunction and dissatisfaction are common symptoms associated with depression. Optimal antidepressant treatment should result in remission of the symptoms of the underlying illness and minimize the potential for short- and long-term adverse effects, including sexual dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction and dissatisfaction are frequently persistent or worsen with the use of some antidepressant medications; this sexual dysfunction and dissatisfaction can have negative impact on adherence to treatment, quality of life, and the possibility of relapse. Successful management of sexual complaints during antidepressant treatment should begin with a systematic approach to determine the type of sexual dysfunction, potential contributing factors, and finally management strategies that should be tailored to the individual patient. The basic physiologic mechanisms of the normal sexual phases of libido, arousal, and orgasm and how these mechanisms may be interrupted by some antidepressants provide a framework for the clinician to utilize in order to minimize sexual complaints when initiating and continuing antidepressant treatment. This article provides guidelines, based upon this type of model, for the assessment, management, and prevention of sexual side effects associated with antidepressant treatment.

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