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Ask the Experts

Question:

How often do sexual side effects of antidepressant treatment occur?

Answered by: David Hellerstein

Antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction is fairly common. Depending upon the study and the specific type of antidepressant, percentages can range from as low as 15% to as high as 75%.

Statistics do show that if asked directly, an average of 60% of patients report sexual complaints. The severity of these side effects varies a lot—they can be minor annoyances or major problems.

However, only about 15% of depressed patients taking SSRIs for depression spontaneously report sexual complaints to their doctors. Thus, both psychiatrists and patients should be honest and comprehensive when discussing sexual complaints in order to best serve the patient.