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2-for-1 Benefits: Treat Depression, Beat ED

Erectile dysfunction (ED) and depression are often unfortunate bedfellows. Sexual problems are a common symptom of depression. They’re also a frequent side effect of treatment with antidepressant drugs. All told, about 30 percent of depressed men say they have trouble getting or keeping an erection.

But if you’re a man with depression, you don’t have to accept living with ED. There are steps you can take to overcome the problem and reclaim a satisfying sex life.

The Link to Depression

Depression is more than a passing blue mood. It’s a long-lasting illness that affects feelings, thoughts, and behavior. It’s also a common disorder, striking more than 6 million American men each year.

One hallmark of depression is loss of interest in things that were once enjoyed, including sex. Depression itself may cause ED. Or, when ED has a physical cause, depression may make it worse.

Depression can lead to ED, but the reverse is also true. For some men, the stress caused by sexual problems may worsen a current bout of depression or set off a new one. It’s a vicious cycle, and the first step toward breaking free is to seek professional help for both conditions.

The Link to Antidepressants

There’s a catch, though: Many antidepressants—medications used to treat depression—can cause ED as a side effect. If this problem occurs, don’t stop taking the antidepressant. Instead, talk with your doctor about possible solutions. Reducing the dose or switching to a different antidepressant might help. In some cases, a second medication might be added to your treatment plan. Some studies have reported improvement when adding:

  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin)—An antidepressant that works differently from other ones and may offset their sexual side effects

  • Medication for treating ED

Real Men Do Get Depressed

Depression isn’t a character flaw or sign of weakness. It’s also not a fleeting mood that you can simply wish away. It’s a serious illness—one that can wreak havoc in your personal life. Left untreated, it can sap your energy and make it hard to eat, sleep, and work.

That’s why seeking treatment for depression is so important, and antidepressants are one of the main treatment options. Sexual side effects can be distressing. But, by working with your doctor, you can manage them and still get depression under control.


Online Medical Reviewer: Spadaro, Louise, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 2/11/2010
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