Antidepressant Medications Linked to Sexual Problem; Study Participants Sought

July 7, 1999

The University of Arizona department of psychiatry is seeking 30 volunteers for a study of a medication that may be an effective "antidote" to male sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressant medications.

Sexual dysfunction associated with depression is a common phenomenon that has been clouded for years by a "don't ask, don't tell" relationship between patient and clinician. Patients often are too embarrassed to talk to their doctors about sexual problems, and clinicians frequently fail to discuss the issue. Recent research has shown, however, that a large percentage of patients with depression experience a loss of libido or other sexual difficulties - and that antidepressant medications contribute to sexual problems.

SSRIs (selective serotonergic reuptake inhibitors) such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Luvox and Celexa are among the class of antidepressant medications most commonly associated with sexual problems. Adverse effects range from difficulty sustaining an erection, to loss of libido and inability to have an orgasm. Although reports of incidence vary, recent studies show as many as 70 percent of people may experience sexual dysfunction while taking SSRIs.

Dr. Alan Gelenberg, head of the UA psychiatry department, is conducting a study of a medication that may be an effective antidote to antidepressant medication-related sexual problems. "It is unfortunate when someone benefits from an antidepressant, but suffers a major side-effect such as loss of sexual satisfaction," Gelenberg says. "We hope to help many people with that problem."

Participants in this study continue to take their antidepressant along with the study medication. The study is open to males, 18-55, who have been taking antidepressant medication for at least three months, who no longer are depressed, but who have been experiencing sexual problems related to the medication for at least one month. All research studies in the department offer caring, continuous monitoring by skilled clinicians, free laboratory tests and EKG, free treatment during the study, and assistance with referrals when studies are completed. All participants receive a preliminary confidential phone screen to determine initial eligibility for a study.

For more information about participating in this study, call 626-6751.