Sexual dysfunction secondary to the use of antidepressants, especially clomipramine or SSRI's is an adverse effect that is often underestimated and according to earlier studies, this can affect approximately 60% of the patients. This presents as a decrease in libido, alterations in the ability to reach orgasm/ejaculation, and an erectile dysfunction or a decreased vaginal lubrication. This dysfunction appears to be related with the resulting increase in serotonin and with the stimulation of serotonin 5HT2 receptors.
Objectives: 1) Evaluate the effect of amineptine, a drug with an increased dopamine transmission and scant serotonin transmission, on the sexual function of depressed patients who begin treatment, and 2) evaluate whether the change to amineptine improves the sexual function in patients who presented sexual dysfunction after beginning treatment with a SSRI.
Material and methods: Prospective, observational, open and multicentric design. 111 patients with an average age of 41.3 years (36 men, 75 women) were distributed into three groups: Group 1 (n= 26): patients with depression (DSM IV) who begin de novo treatment with amineptine 200 mg/day. Group 2 (n= 47): depressed patients undergoing treatment with a SSRI who show a favorable response and who present sexual dysfunction secondary to a poorly tolerated treatment, so the treatment is changed to 200 mg/day of amineptine. Group 3 (n= 38): patients with the same characteristics as those of group 2, but whose treatment was changed to 20 mg/day of paroxetine. The <<Questionnaire for the Measure of Sexual Dysfunction Secondary to the use of Psychotropic Drugs>> (Montejo et al, 1996) was used together with the Hamilton Depression Scale, the IGC Scale, and an adverse events scale, over a 6 months follow up period during which visits took place at: baseline, month 1, month 2, month 3, and month 6.
Results: In group 1, treated with amineptine from the beginning, of the 5 patients who showed a decrease in the libido at the beginning of the treatment, only one still presented this in the 6th month. The Hamilton Scale decreased from 23.12 (baseline) to 5.25 after 6 months. After substituting amineptine for SSRI's in patients with sexual dysfunction, the incidence of any type of sexual dysfunction decreased significantly from 100% (baseline) to 55.3% after 6 months. (P< 0.001). The incidence of delayed orgasm dropped to 15.8%, anorgasmia to 17.4%, and impotence dropped to 15.8% in this group, with the antidepressant effect that had already been achieved with the SSRI being maintained. However, in group 3 there was barely any improvement on the sexual function after changing to paroxetine (20 mg/day), with the baseline incidence being 100% and the incidence after 6 months being 89.7%. In this last group the antidepressant effect present at the baseline level, was maintained.
Conclusions: Amineptine was shown to be an effective antidepressant in the patients studied, and did not cause secondary sexual dysfunction, and even improved the dysfunction that was present in some patients. In those patients previously treated with SSRI's, amineptine is able to significantly improve the sexual dysfunction and yet maintain the efficacy of the antidepressive treatment used before these 6 months. On the other hand, Paroxetine did not improve the sexual dysfunction of the people in whom this drug substituted another SSRI, as this is an adverse effect common to the entire group of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibiting drugs. Amineptine showed a good safety and tolerance profile. Its most common side effect (anxiety/restlessness) disappeared 2 months after the beginning of the treatment.