Assessment and management of sexual dysfunction in the context of depression

Ther Adv Psychopharmacol. 2018 Jan;8(1):13-23. doi: 10.1177/2045125317720642. Epub 2017 Jul 31.


Sexual dysfunction (SD) is pervasive and underreported, and its effects on quality of life are underestimated. Due in part to its bidirectional relationship with depression, SD can be difficult to diagnose; it is also a common side effect of many antidepressants, leading to treatment noncompliance. While physicians often count on patients to spontaneously report SD, treatment is optimized when the clinician instead performs a thorough assessment of sexual functioning before and during drug therapy using a standardized questionnaire such as the Arizona Sexual Experiences Scale (ASEX). Separating the effects of the disorder from those of medications is challenging; we present a concise, evidence-based schematic to assist physicians in minimizing treatment-emergent sexual dysfunction (TESD) while treating depression. Vascular, hormonal, neurogenic, and pharmacological factors should be considered when a patient presents with SD. We also recommend that physicians obtain patient information about baseline and historical sexual functioning before prescribing a drug that may lead to SD and follow up accordingly. When the goal is to treat depression while attenuating the risk of sexual symptoms, physicians may wish to consider agomelatine, bupropion, desvenlafaxine, moclobemide, trazodone, vilazodone, and vortioxetine.

Keywords: antidepressants; depression; sexual dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Review