why do antidepressants kill your sex drive?

4 minutes

The medications that we use to treat depression can be divided into two categories:

  1. The ones that enhance serotonin
  2. The ones that don’t.The only one that doesn’t though Is bupropion also known by the brand name Wellbutrin.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter or nerve chemical that plays a role in regulating your mood, but it also has effects on other nerves that control other parts of your body. For example, we actually have more serotonin receptors in our gut than we do in our brain and that’s why nausea is a very common side effect with these medications.

The antidepressants work by increasing serotonin levels in our body and unfortunately, High serotonin levels in your brain interfere with your sexual behavior. High levels of Serotonin decreases your sex drive. The sexual dysfunction that you can get is things like having little or no sexual interest, delayed climax, or inability to have an orgasm at all, erectile dysfunction, and decreased sensation in your genital area.

Some Studies have shown that this can happen as frequently as 60 to 70% people and that’s a lot of people affected. The positive news is that this is often dose-dependent. So that means that the higher you go up on their drug the greater the chance that the symptoms will crop up. Then if you lower the dose, the problem can go away and as long as your depression or anxiety doesn’t come back with that lower dose then that can be a good working solution for you. Also in about 10 to 20% of people the symptoms go away if you watch and wait and don’t do anything or change the dose.

 What are some other workarounds to this problem?

As it turns out Dopamine – another neurotransmitter enhances sexual activity, especially sexual interest. Wellbutrin is an antidepressant that increases dopamine and norepinephrine, so if you have depression but you don’t have much anxiety taking Wellbutrin as your antidepressant can eliminate this problem. But, if you do need to take a serotonin agent sometimes adding Wellbutrin can reverse the sexual side effects of your Lexapro or whatever serotonin agent that you’re taking. This is not a change that you can make yourself but you can raise this issue with your doctor and see if he or she thinks it would be a good solution for you.

If the Wellbutrin addition doesn’t work for you or you can’t take Wellbutrin for some reason then what do you do?

Sometimes adding a medication like Buspar can help. Buspar is  for anxiety, and the reason that it helps is complicated but suffice it to say that it activates a receptor that can offset this problem.

Two more possibilities or two more solutions are cyproheptadine also called periactin is an antihistamine that is often used to treat nausea but it also has some serotonin blocking properties.

One of the downsides though is that it can be sedating and this may not work so well if you’re 

trying to taking it as a pre sex preparation. The herb “Ginkgo Biloba” increases blood flow to the genital organs and so that may help with arousal. But as with most over-the-counter remedies the results of this can be hit or miss. Now if it happens with one antidepressant it’s not a given, or an automatic that it’s gonna happen with another one.

 So the other solution could be to try a different antidepressant. But this depends whether it’s worth it to you to start over with something else, and you are at risk of having your depression or your anxiety return if you switch to another drug that’s not as effective in treating your depression.


Erectile Dysfunction or Low Libido caused by medications can easily be treated by oral medications like viagra(Sildenafil) and Cialis (Tadalafil) available. Men need to muster up the courage to seek professional help from a doctor or a qualified clinical sexologist. Just taking this step will get them on their way to recover not only their sex life but their relationship as well. They need not worry about their privacy as clinics like “The ED Clinic”  take full care to make sure all privacy details are just that- Private.