In my first post about love, sex, and depression I promised among other things a list of popular antidepressants and their side effects: especially those medications that as a side effect might disrupt your sex life – possibly worsening your depression instead of alleviating it.
Hand In HandSo this time, instead of a funny or contemplative post, here is a long list of antidepressants and just about all their known potential side effects. If out of need or curiosity you want to skim through it, then please do read my Introduction first. This is important.
This list is not intended as some kind of medical advice. Medical advice is something you should get from your psychiatrist, in a discussion together with her and your life partner (if you have one). Your psychiatrist ought to know about your specific problems and needs, and what medication might be considered in your case. She knows her trade, and she knows you. I don’t. Right?
So this list here is only meant to help you bringing up possible side effects (and perhaps searching for some medication alternatives) in that discussion you are going to have together with your partner and your doctor or psychiatrist. I hope this is clear.
Locked Love And this list is certainly not meant to suggest you should just quit using any kind of medication, without first consulting the doctor or psychiatrist who prescribed them. You know as well as I do, that such an impulsive step might be outright dangerous. I’ve always warned here against such irresponsible gambles.
What exactly is meant here with “sexual side effects”? Let’s for once be explicit about that, too. Generally speaking, some often-used antidepressants can cause some of the following sex-related effects:
• decreased or absent libido;
• impotence or vaginal dryness;
• difficulty getting aroused;
• weak or absent orgasm;
• physically complete but not fully felt orgasm;
• premature ejaculation;
• weakened penile, vaginal or clitoral sensitivity;
• decreased or no response to sexual stimuli;
• reduced semen production;
• persistently erected penis or clitoris.
Now don’t panic! First of all, many antidepressants do not have sexual side effects listed at all (see the lower part of my list). Secondly, do not forget we are talking just about potential side effects here: many users of medication with listed side effects will not experience them. “Potential” indicates only that in some cases, for some particular users, some side effects may occur. While you might want to consider that possibility, it would be very wrong to assume beforehand that such effects actually will happen to you if you start using that medication.
A good psychiatrist will try to prescribe that specific medication that she thinks you, in your state and your situation, do need most urgently. She may have very good reasons to prescribe that specific medication for you. If there are side effects listed, then clearly she thinks that your not taking that medication would have much worse overall effects, than your taking the risk of some of its side effects. This is something you can ask her to explain. You can ask her (and your own partner) to help you weighing the pros and cons. Of course you can also ask if there isn’t some alternative medication with the same main result but with different or less potential side effects.
Prozac Washer My list has a somewhat wider range of medication than a strict definition of “antidepressants” would allow. I wanted to include most of what often is prescribed in cases of depression, so you will also find things that belong – for example – at the activating or tranquillizing ends of the spectrum. This is not strange because there are many kinds of depression, and sometimes a psychiatrist will advise a combination of different medications to cover your specific condition as a whole.
For most medication categories I give many examples of brand names, but in that respect the list cannot be complete. New names appear all the time (there must be some creative computer somewhere, churning them out on command). Also, identical pills often get different brand names in different parts of the world. Most of the brand name examples here are American, with European ones coming second. If your specific brand of antidepressant is not listed, you will have to find out yourself to what category it belongs.
Finally, we all are unique personalities: your own experiences may be different. I know this from my fifteen-year-stretch of using various antidepressants. My own experience with Nortrilen (a TCA, Tricyclic Antidepressant) does accord with what the list suggests: after I stopped using it, I got the feeling of suddenly getting back a part of my life again – regaining sexual feelings that before had been drowned in a kind of numb indifference. But I have had exactly the same experience after I stopped using Priadel (in the Lithium category). Apparently, Lithium had a similar dulling effect on me too, even though long-term sexual problems are not formally listed as a side effect for the Lithium category. So be not surprised if your individual experiences will not quite fit into the general picture.