Increased incidence of depressive symptoms in men with erectile dysfunction

Urology. 1998 Nov;52(5):848-52. doi: 10.1016/s0090-4295(98)00292-1.


Objectives: To investigate the hypothesis that men with erectile dysfunction (ED) have a higher incidence of depressive symptoms compared with age-matched control subjects. We also hypothesized that depressive symptoms impact on the level of libido and on the success of treatment of ED.

Methods: One hundred twenty men with ED or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) were divided into three groups. Group 1 had ED only, group 2 had BPH only, and group 3 had both ED and BPH. Patients were screened for depressive symptoms using the Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders and the Beck Depression Inventory. They were also surveyed for comorbidity, marital status, severity of ED, level of libido, prior ED treatment choice (if any), success of treatment, and others.

Results: One hundred patients completed the questionnaires. Depressive symptoms were reported by 26 (54%) of 48 men with ED alone, 10 (56%) of 18 men with ED and BPH, and 7 (21 %) of 34 men with BPH alone. Patients with ED were 2.6 times more likely to report depressive symptoms than men with BPH alone (P < 0.005). Patients with depressive symptoms reported lower libido than other patients (P < 0.0001). Severity of comorbidities did not differ among the three groups. A total of 33 patients with ED had prior treatment for ED using penile injections or vacuum devices. All 15 (100%) patients with ED only continued treatment and were satisfied with its outcome, whereas only 7 (38.9%) of 18 patients with ED and depressive symptoms continued treatment (P < 0.00021).

Conclusions: ED is associated with high incidence of depressive symptoms, regardless of age, marital status, or comorbidities. Patients with ED have a decreased libido compared with control subjects. In addition, patients with depressive symptoms have a lower libido than patients without depressive symptoms. Patients with ED and depressive symptoms are more likely to discontinue treatment for ED than other patients with ED. These data emphasize the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

MeSH terms

  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / drug therapy
  • Erectile Dysfunction / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Libido
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome