Characterizing post-SSRI sexual dysfunction and its impact on quality of life through an international online survey

Int J Risk Saf Med. 2021;32(4):321-329. doi: 10.3233/JRS-210039.


Background: Post-SSRI sexual dysfunction (PSSD) is an underrecognized and poorly understood medical condition characterized by sexual dysfunction that persists despite SSRI discontinuation.

Objective: We conducted a survey of individuals with PSSD to better characterize this condition and its impact on various quality of life concerns.

Methods: Surveys were distributed to an online support group for individuals with PSSD. Surveys assessed medications suspected of causing PSSD and symptoms experienced during and after treatment. Respondents reported the trajectory of their condition, the efficacy of different treatments, and the impact of PSSD on their quality of life.

Results: 239 survey responses were included in this study. A majority of respondents had a history of SSRI use (92%) compared to only SNRI or atypical antidepressant use (8%). The overall severity of symptoms improved for 45% and worsened or remained the same for 37% of respondents after discontinuing treatment with serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Only 12% of respondents reported being counseled regarding potential sexual dysfunction while taking antidepressants. The majority rated the effect of PSSD on their quality of life as extremely negative (59%) or very negative (23%).

Conclusion: PSSD can have an overwhelmingly negative impact on quality of life. Currently, it is unclear why certain individuals develop PSSD and there are no definitive treatments for this condition. Further research of PSSD and greater awareness of this condition is needed among prescribers of serotonin reuptake inhibitors to improve patient care.

Keywords: Post-SSRI sexual dysfunction; adverse effects; drug side effects; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors; sexual dysfunction.

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life*
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological* / chemically induced
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological* / drug therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors