Depression Rx Putting a Hurt on Sex

Sexual dysfunction from depression medication can be helped with Viagra

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Depression can be crippling. Anti-depressants can help lift the dark cloud of symptoms. But these medications may also put a damper on a patient's sex life.

Approximately 50 percent of patients taking anti-depressants experience sexual dysfunction. Patients may be so upset about their lack of a sex life that they stop taking their anti-depressant medicine. 

Research has focused on the use sildenafil (sold under the brand name Viagra) to treat erectile dysfunction but not overall sexual functioning or quality of life. 

A recent study found that sildenafil may be an effective treatment for sexual dysfunction linked to anti-depressant use. After taking the sildenafil for six months, patients reported an increase in sexual drive and desire.

"Anti-depressants impacting your sex life? Talk to your doctor."

Dr. Christina Dording, MD, of Depression Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues set out to examine the effects of sildenafil on treating antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction. 

The study included 2,239 male and female patients. These patients were on anti-depressants and complained of sexual dysfunction. Patients were given 50 to 100 mg of sildenafil, as needed, to treat sexual dysfunction.

After 12 months, researchers gave the patients a series of questionnaires that measured changes in sexual drive, desire and overall well-being. 

Results suggested that there was a significant association between sildenafil use and improvement in sexual drive and desire by the sixth month.

While there was not a significant improvement in quality of life, patients' treatment satisfaction and overall happiness increased over time. 

There were some limitations to the study. The number of participants was very small. There was also not a comparison group of participants not taking sildenafil.

There was no information about whether patients consistently took sildenafil as prescribed. The authors noted that future research should include a placebo group to determine if sildenafil directly impacts sexual functioning. 

This study, titled "The effect of sildenafil on quality of life," was published in the Annals of Clinical Psychiatry. The study received medication at no cost through Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Forest Laboratories, GlaxoSmithKline, King Pharmaceuticals, Organon, Pfizer Inc. and Wyeth. Dr. Dording and colleagues disclosed no financial conflict of interest with this study but all of the authors have received lecture or consulting fees from numerous pharmaceutical companies.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 8, 2013
Last Updated:
February 9, 2013