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Pills and Libido

Why Some Medicines Help Low Mood But Ruin High Libido

Some antidepressants that are prescribed to help with low mood come with sexual side effects like low libido. Why? Does it happen to everyone? And what can be done to achieve a higher libido? 

Sex is a fundamental part of the human experience. Sex boosts your mood through the release of avalanches of happy hormones coursing through your body. It has the capability to, momentarily but thoroughly, release the tightly wound anxieties of our modern lives. How is it that sex, being a mood booster, often cannot be enjoyed by those experiencing low mood? 

Liz Jensen, in her book, The Rapture, says, “There’s this expectation that we should all be sexual beings, but the fact is, not all of us are, particularly.” There are so many people living with sexual dysfunctions. The lack of a high libido has reasons that range from asexuality to menopause, and so much more. Most of these often tend to be relatively out of our control. However, there is one reason that feels kind of paradoxical and lowkey unfair. There are some pharmaceutical drugs that decrease libido, specifically antidepressants, prescribed to those with low mood disorders. They boost moods but lower libido. 

Please Explain in Great Detail

Depression, Antidepressants, And Low Libido 

SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are commonly prescribed antidepressants. They're mostly used to treat depression, especially chronic or severe depression. These are the meds that often cause sexual side effects. However, something important to remember is that antidepressants can raise libido for patients in the long run. Depression and anxiety themselves often cause low libido. People experiencing these disorders already lack a high libido. So, using these medicines to treat depression will also treat their initial low sex drive. It just takes some time. But it is so important to understand that these medicines are meant to improve the overall quality of a person’s life.

MyMuse spoke to *Dr. A.R. Chauhan (MBBS, post-graduate resident at the Department of Psychiatry in a Mumbai-based institution), to better understand the relationship between medication and sexual side effects. 

“Treatments for a wide range of psychiatric disorders can be accompanied by just as wide a range of side effects. In the significant minority of patients who experience sexual side effects, these may range from diminished libido and erectile dysfunction all the way up to [the rare] anorgasmia which is the inability to experience an orgasm at all.”

“Notably, not all side effects are undesirable!”

Dr. Chauhan goes on to explain that delayed ejaculation is one such side effect that may be desirable in several cases. Certain SSRIs are even FDA approved for the treatment of premature ejaculation!

So essentially, if a patient with depression or anxiety also experiences premature ejaculation, a strategic prescription can help them in more ways than one. Being able to last longer in bed can help improve their sexual experience and confidence which in turn can aid their recovery, in addition to the medication.

It’s a win-win!

Solutions to Counteract the Sexual Side Effects 

Dr. Chauhan says,

“Well, to paraphrase a famed textbook of psychopharmacology:

* Wait

* Wait

* Wait

* Switch, or add another medication.”

Simply put,  your doctor will take a dose or time-dependent approach. If you wait, it is very likely that you will develop a tolerance to the side effects. Then, your doctor may choose to increase the dose, while informing you that the same side effects may arise again, but will soon subside with the development of a higher tolerance. If they don’t subside, your doctor can take a call to reduce the dose again or switch to a different medication. 

All this applies only if you express your issues to your doctor. As Dr. Chauhan says, “Rest assured that asking your psychiatrist for a few extra minutes and advice will only do you good. Communication is key!” 

At the end of the day, the risk-benefit factor has to be considered.  If a patient is suffering from severe depression and they pose a threat to their own life, it would be detrimental to stop the medication for the want of high libido. Treating severe depression > high libido. 

In Conclusion, 

The key is to always air your grievances to your doctor. They are here to help and should be able to analyse and judge your situation well before mapping out the way ahead. Also, remember, pleasure comes in all forms. 

Self Care Massage

It doesn’t always have to be sex. However, you can opt to buy some sex toys online. But most importantly, take some time off, focus on yourself, and indulge in some self-care products. Take a long luxurious bath and give yourself a massage with Glow Relaxing OilThere are many ways to help yourself and get external help too.

*Dr. A R Chauhan declares no conflict of interest and that he will receive no compensation

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