Post-Antidepressant Sexual Dysfunction
Many people are prescribed antidepressant medications for a wide range of ills, such as anxiety disorder, depression, pain management, insomnia, migraine headaches, grief, and many off-label applications.
The popularity of antidepressant use has skyrocketed over the last 10 years.
Research from the American Psychological Association shows that:
- 12.7 percent of the U.S. population over age 12 took antidepressants in the past month,
- There was a 64 percent increase in people using antidepressants between 1999 and 2014,
- There was a 19.1 percent increase in people over the age of 60 who took antidepressants, and
- Women are more than 2 times more likely to take antidepressants than men.
While some people can benefit from antidepressants, they often come with side effects and long-term risks.
Weight gain is a common side effect of antidepressants, as is blurred vision, rash, seizures, edema, diarrhea, nausea, constipation, insomnia dizziness, heart arrhythmia, fainting, and hypertension.
While many of these side effects subside once the medication has been discontinued, some side effects can persist long after the antidepressant has been discontinued. For some people, these side effects become permanent.
Many medical and mental health professionals have been raising awareness about some of the long-lasting side effects. Unfortunately, few are listening, including those who are prescribing them.
Advertisement - Article Continues Below
One such mental health professional, professor David Healy, has recently raised the concern about post-antidepressant sexual dysfunction.
Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Professor Healy said problems can begin after only a few doses and leave someone affected for life, or a relatively mild dysfunction can worsen dramatically when the person stops taking the antidepressant.
According to the research's press release:
Called Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD), the core features of the condition are genital numbing, loss or muting of orgasm and loss of libido. According to Professor Healy many patients are just as concerned by additional features like emotional numbing or derealisation. Both sexes, all ages and every ethnic group can be affected.
Professor Healy, of Bangor University, said: "10% of people of sexually active years in developed countries are on antidepressants chronically. Nearly 20% of the population, therefore, may not be able to make love the way they want. In some deprived areas, the figure may be much higher. Some likely comfort themselves with the thought that once they stop treatment, they will get back to normal, when in fact they may be even less able to function."
In June 2019, in response to a petition lodged by Professor Healy and colleagues in 2018, the European Medicines Agency asked pharmaceutical companies to warn that sexual dysfunction can endure after antidepressant treatment stops.
Professor Healy said: "There is a great need to recognise these treatment-related enduring sexual dysfunctions and pinpoint how they arise and might be treated."
Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD) isn’t the only problem. Other researchers have found that people who used antidepressants had a 14% higher risk of heart attacks and strokes and a 33% greater risk of death, according to findings in a meta-analysis of 17 studies that was published in 2017 in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.
Other research has found that antidepressants significantly increase the risk of GI and Intercranial bleeding.
With the many short- and long-term adverse effects of antidepressant medication use, medical and mental health professionals are urging patients to carefully weigh the pros and cons amid new research on short- and long-term risks.
If you are having difficulty with anxiety, worry, depression, or sleep problems, you might want to connect with one of our recommended therapists. Therapy is the most effective way to overcome these types of problems.
Disclaimer: anxietycentre.com is not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted at anxietycentre.com by contributing institutions or for the use of any information throughout anxietycentre.com's system.
Common Anxiety Symptoms
The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.
- For a comprehensive list of Anxiety Disorders Symptoms Signs, Types, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment.
- Anxiety and panic attacks symptoms can be powerful experiences. Find out what they are and how to stop them.
- How to stop an anxiety attack and panic.
- Free online anxiety tests to screen for anxiety. Two minute tests with instant results. Such as:
- Anxiety 101 is a summarized description of anxiety, anxiety disorder, and how to overcome it.
Return to Anxiety Research section.
Anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including .
1. Winerman, Lea. "By the numbers: Antidepressant use on the rise." American Psychological Association, Nov 2017, https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/11/numbers
2. Healy, David. "Antidepressants and sexual dysfunction: a history." Sage Journals, 23 Jan 2020,
3. Marta M. Maslej, et al. "The Mortality and Myocardial Effects of Antidepressants Are Moderated by Preexisting Cardiovascular Disease: A Meta-Analysis." Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 2017.
4. Wei Cheng Yuet et al, "Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Use and Risk of Gastrointestinal and Intracranial Bleeding." The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (2019).
Recovery Support Benefits
√ 5000+ pages of self-help information.
√ Information you won't find elsewhere.
√ Information is updated and added to daily.
√ Comprehensive symptoms section with each symptom described and explained.
√ Frequent Questions section with answers to over 1300 questions commonly asked about anxiety.
√ Skype Live Call-In with Jim Folk and guests, as well as over 100 hours of recorded discussions.
√ Private members discussion forum with years of discussions and answers.
√ And so much more.
"The member's area of your website has the best anxiety symptoms section anywhere.
Now, I know what to do. You guys are great!!" - J.G.
See Recovery Stories