Depression and Bipolar Medication Side Effects - Sex Drive

Tess Thompson



There is a subtle difference between depression and bipolar disorder (BPD) but both are related to each other. Bipolar disorder was earlier known as manic depression. Factually, the earlier name was more indicative of the condition as bipolar disorder is a condition when a person experiences both mania and depression in different episodes. Mania and depression are diametrically opposite aspects of brain functioning - one makes a person hyperactive and overly responsive and the other induces lethargy, pessimism and lack of interest in joyful activities.

Considering the nature of the disorder, patients have to be monitored on a regular basis and medicines are frequently changed from antidepressants to mood stabilizers. Both of these drugs can have a negative impact on the sexuality of the patient. Living with a person who has bipolar disorder requires a lot of patience as the partner tends to take the frequent mood changes personally.

The sexual function of the human body does not involve the sex organs only. It is a result of a hormones and neurotransmitters acting in tandem with the genitals. While the hormone testosterone is essential for sex drive, the neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin act as chemical messengers for the sex organs. Dopamine increases sex drive and serotonin inhibits sexual function.

The connection between depression and bipolar disorder with sex drive lies in these neurotransmitters. It is not yet established if these brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) cause depression or depression causes the imbalance. The popular belief in the medical fraternity, though, is that depression and mood changes can be controlled with medication by increasing or decreasing the re-absorption of neurotransmitters. This belief finds credence when we see moods changing with antidepressants and mood elevators.

As treatment of bipolar disorder and depression involves controlling the levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for inhibiting sex drive, it is obvious that medication for depression and BPD will have an impact on sex drive and performance.

There are three major classes of antidepressants: MAOI’s (Monaamine Oxidase Inhibitors), Tricyclic antidepressants and SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). Loss of sex drive, impotence and erectile failure are all among the common side effects of all the three classes of drugs. There are newer antidepressants that are classified as Atypical. These too cause fatigue and sexual dysfunction.

Lithium salts are used as mood elevators for treating BPD as they counteract both mania and depression. Although they do not affect sex drive directly, they are usually prescribed in conjunction with antidepressants.

BPD can by itself lead to hypersexuality. There may not be enough evidence regarding the effect it has on ejaculation, but it may lead to seeking premature ejaculation treatments. The general rule is that sex drive and performance can potentially be affected by any type of medication, whether it is for BPD or clinical depression. Before getting alarmed by sexual dysfunctions and rushing for sexual performance products, it is advisable to consult a specialist and make sure whether or not they are due to medication. The specialist is in a better position to evaluate and can suggest alternate drugs or even alternative therapies.

References:
http://www.helpguide.org/mental/medications_depression.htm

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