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Viagra Eases Depression-Related ED

Treatment Lessens Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressants
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Jan. 2, 2003 -- For millions who suffer from depression, the sexual side effects of many antidepressants can make treatment hard to swallow. But a new study shows that a popular drug used to treat erectile dysfunction (also known as ED) can help depressed men put the spice back in their sex lives and make it easier to stick with their treatment plan.

The study, published in Jan. 1 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, found that more than half of the men who took Viagra (sildenafil) in addition to their prescribed antidepressant had a significant improvement in sexual function.

Researchers say that sexual dysfunction occurs in about 30% to 70% of people who take the most frequently prescribed antidepressants known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, and others). The effects may include problems with sexual desire or libido, arousal, and orgasm.

The sexual side effects can become so bothersome that the study authors say almost 90% of depressed patients who develop these sexual problems stop taking their antidepressants too soon, which can put them at risk for a relapse of depression.

In the study, researchers looked at the effects of taking Viagra before sexual activity among 90 men with an average age of 45 who suffered from sexual dysfunction as a result of their treatment for depression.

After six weeks of study, researcher H. George Nurnberg, MD, of the department of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, and colleagues found that 54.5% of the men who took Viagra had much or very much improved scores on overall sexual function compared with only about 4% of those who did not take the drug.

Researchers say measures of erectile function, arousal, ejaculation, orgasm, and overall sexual satisfaction improved significantly among the men treated with Viagra compared with those who received the placebo.

The most common side effect was headache, occurring in 40% of patients who took Viagra.

Both groups remained in relapse from depression throughout the study.

The authors say it's the first study to show that Viagra can reduce the negative sexual side effects of antidepressant treatment and merits further research to see if the drug can be used as a first-line treatment for this common problem.

The study was supported by an independent grant from Pfizer Inc., which makes Viagra.

SOURCE: The Journal of the American Medical Association, Jan. 1, 2003.

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