Feature Archive

Depressing Libidos?

When antidepressants diminish desire.

WebMD Feature

A new category of medication has revolutionized the treatment of depression during the past few years. Called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, this class of antidepressants includes such drugs as Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), and Zoloft (sertraline).

These medications have helped many people overcome feelings of depression and allowed them to get on with their lives. Thus, SSRIs have been rightfully dubbed a major advance in medicine. With simple once-a-day dosing and fewer side effects than older drugs, they've been embraced by physicians and patients alike -- so much so that some mental health experts complain that these "fashionable" drugs are sometimes given to people who don't really need them.

But even when SSRIs are prescribed to appropriate patients, they are not perfect. Recently, researchers have found that adverse sexual side effects may be much more common with these medicines than originally believed. So, if you're on an SSRI and you're suddenly having sex life problems -- an inability to get aroused or difficulty reaching orgasm, for instance -- the medicine might be to blame. And it's time to talk to your doctor about it.