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Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction Can Improve Depression

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

Oct. 3, 2001 -- Impotence and depression are closely linked and commonly occur in the same man. But now a new study shows that one little blue pill might actually be able to take care of both problems.

Impotence, also known as erectile dysfunction (ED), affects more than 18 million men in the U.S. As men age, it often becomes more difficult for them to maintain an erection. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can increase the risks of developing ED.

In some men, depression can cause ED. In others, however, ED may actually cause mild depression. So researchers from the department of psychiatry at Columbia University tried to determine whether Viagra could improve erections and depression in one fell swoop.

They looked at more than 150 men with ED and mild depression -- half were given Viagra and the other half received a placebo but were not aware of which treatment they were taking.

As expected, the men receiving Viagra had a much greater response than those in the placebo group. About 90% of men taking Viagra had improvement in their erections and ability to have sexual intercourse. But only about 12% of men taking placebo had the same results.

The results often showed that whether the men took the drug or placebo, if erections improved, so did their mood.

"Results from the study suggest that successful treatment of ED in depressed men can lead to marked improvement in depression," write Stuart N. Seidman, MD, and his colleagues. However, they are quick to point out that this single study does not reveal how long the improvement in depression will last.

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