How to deal with Post SSRI Sexual Dysfunction?
August 31, 2011 3:23 PM   Subscribe

I am a 21 year old male who took paxil for a little over a year. I took the medication in order to deal with the depression an anxiety associated with transferring colleges. Some of the sexual side effects that I experienced while on the medication was difficulty achieving orgasm and at one point I lost my sex drive.

My sex drive eventually came back while I was on the medication once I was in a better mood (sounds like depression was doing it all along but it wasnt). Once I got off of the medication, I was feeling fine for about a month. I had been doing great for several months and finally felt like I was back to myself and becoming more of an independent/confident young man. After the month of being off of paxil, I started to experience some "brain fog" and just weakness in general. I felt little interest in sex and I started to get a weird coldness sensation on my testicles.

I researched why I was feeling this way and came across Post SSRI Sexual Dysfunction. Obviously this freaked me out very much because my sexual health is a HUGE part of my happiness and personality. It has been about 7 months and there has been little improvements. I realize with lots of exercise, my arousal and sexual stimulation seems to rise for a short period of time after a workout, but on a regular day to day basis sex does not seem to interest me. Its really weird. I have been on and off depressed/worried about this. I am often tempted to drink or smoke to feel better. My parents are concerned about me and they think I should go back on medication (they don't seem to be concerned much about my complaints... they are actually ignoring them). I'm doing everything I can to just FEEL GOOD, but I find it very hard to accept this and my personality seems to be dwindling. I have anti-anxiety pills for an occasional anxiety attack, but I am scared to take SSRIs again. I am starting to get concerned about whether I will be mentally healthy enough to get through the rest of school because my thought processes and motivation seem to be much less than they used to be.

My question is how would you deal with this? I am not a crazy person. I was quite outgoing and funny before this. The on and off depression is killing me. I want to enjoy college, but this is making it very difficult. Thanks for your replies.
posted by bringdaruckus to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Who prescribed your Paxil? What did they say when you talked about this with them? Were you doing talk therapy in addition to medication or just medication? Are you doing talk therapy now?

My biggest suggestions would be
1: Talk to your prescribing doctor about your symptoms and see what they say.
2: Go to talk therapy

And see how that goes before making decisions about going back on the meds.
posted by brainmouse at 3:29 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

You seem sort of agitated. My thought is that you're putting too much pressure on yourself: you believe there's some way you should be feeling and, because you don't feel that way, you're obsessing over it.

Take a step back, try not to focus excessively on your perceived mental health from day to day, keep up with regular exercise, and relax.
posted by killdevil at 3:30 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Brainmouse has the right idea. I would definitely recommend talk therapy, and talking to your prescribing doctor. If you can't reach your prescribing doctor, than talk to another psychiatrist about your concerns and try to get some of the anxiety worked out before making any decisions about medication.

I've benefited tremendously from working with a therapist. Your school probably has programs that can hook you up with one for pretty inexpensive. Some of this sounds like the anxiety could be a bigger issue than the depression.

I believe it is possible to be the funny and outgoing person you once were, but with some more life experience. And you are not crazy.
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 4:43 PM on August 31, 2011

I researched why I was feeling this way and came across Post SSRI Sexual Dysfunction.

Self diagnosis of a rare condition should always be followed up with a professional. Knowing the possibilities going in can help a lot when dealing with doctors, but the internet is not a replacement for one. Particularly for something as important as your mental health.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:51 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is a common side effect of anti-depressant medication. Actually, I'm not even sure if its all that bad sometimes. Less sex drive = less anxiety about trying to get laid.

Also, don't go off medication just to improve your sex life. Its a bad idea.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:02 PM on August 31, 2011

Definitely go to your doctor, but don't be surprised if he/she has not heard of this, as a persistent condition, I mean. Research it on the internet, print one or two good articles, and show him/her during your appointment. This very same thing happened to me (don't want to scare you but it's been 5 years and I am only marginally improved)- and it is rare, but it's not as rare as we are led to believe. Good luck.
posted by brownrd at 5:47 PM on August 31, 2011

Check out for scores of stories of people who have dealt with the same thing. Specifically, do a search for "success stories" and you'll see some great hope for recovery. You will recover, but it will take some time.
posted by enzymatic at 9:06 PM on August 31, 2011

Response by poster: My doctor that prescribed it to me basically doesn't want to speak to me again after I left for school. She seems like she doesn't want to deal with my complaints (I don't blame her, I'm pretty pissed off at her). I am working on my anxiety and I am supposed to see a new psychiatrist soon. I had no idea something like this could happen and my goal in my life is to have a better family than the one I was raised in. So you can see why this would upset me so much. No, there aren't many doctors who even believe in this so I don't see why trying to convince a doctor is supposed to be worthwhile. It has gotten better over the months and I pray that it gets all the way better. I'm just wondering whether I should even touch another drug from the psychiatrist. Would you?
posted by bringdaruckus at 11:32 PM on September 1, 2011

I *will* get better. It will take time. See if you can get a recommendation for a talk therapist (clinical psychologist, counselor, or therapist) to work through these things through. That person, if she or he is any good, can help you make decisions in an informed way. See if you can find someone with experience with people who have discontinued SSRIs.

If your original symptoms were largely due to an environmental/circumstantial situation, is there a way you could take some time off college to relax, focus on healing and taking care of yourself, get to a better place mentally and emotionally, and then go back to school?
posted by enzymatic at 8:02 AM on September 2, 2011

Response by poster: I won't be able to stop school. I have too many things going for me in school and I can't just throw it all away right now. Also my parents will think of me as a failure. They already seem pretty confused and tired of my complaints (they don't believe its possible). I will continue to see a psychologist and figure out what works for me. Thanks for your answers.
posted by bringdaruckus at 11:34 PM on September 12, 2011

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