Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 135–143 | Cite as

Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressant Medications: An Informed Consent Accountability Gap

  • Audrey S. BahrickEmail author
  • Mark M. Harris
Original Paper


Sexual side effects of antidepressant medications are far more common than initially reported, and their scope, quality, and duration remain poorly captured in the literature. Antidepressant treatment emergent sexual dysfunctions may decrease clients’ quality of life, complicate psychotherapy, and damage the treatment alliance. Potential damage to the treatment alliance is greatest when clients have not been adequately informed of risks related to sexual side effects. It had previously been assumed that sexual side effects always resolve shortly after medications are discontinued. Emerging evidence, however, suggests that in some individuals, sexual dysfunction side effects may persist indefinitely. The authors argue that all psychologists should be well-informed about sexual side effects risks of antidepressant medications, should routinely conduct a pre-medication baseline assessment of sexual functioning, and take an active role in the informed consent process.


Antidepressant sexual side effects SSRIs Sexual dysfunction Iatrogenic Informed consent 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University Counseling ServiceThe University of IowaIowa CityUSA

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