Resident of Anti-Depressant Hell

Friday, April 21, 2006

Question

I'm a 43-year-old heterosexual male who has been with the same partner for the last 20 years. Eight years ago I basically started to lose interest in sex and eventually in sports and started consulting. Five years ago, after numerous tests, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and have been put on medication (Paxil, then Celexa). The depression went away as well as whatever was left of sex interest. My doctor has not been very helpful in terms of regaining a sexual life. He told me that it is either a sexual life or depression, and that I had a choice to make. My partner has been very compassionate and supportive till now. Both of us would like it if I could recover the sexual interest that I had before. Can you help? I'm in

Answer

You need a new doctor. There are dozens of different anti-depressants. It's high time you were weaned off your current regimen and allowed to try something else, like Wellbutrin. No one should have to choose between depression and their libido. It's not good for your depression to live an asexual life with no desire. Why haven't you been given Viagra or some other drug for erectile disorder to see if that facilitates a sexual encounter for you and your partner?

I also want to advocate combining therapy with medication. There has to be a reason why you started losing interest in sex. Some physiological reasons are usually to blame for a case of the blues that won't go away, but so are individual and relational issues. With therapy, you can figure out what is going on inside yourself or between you and your partner that is interfering with your desire. As the anti-depressant begins working, you will have an easier time regaining your sexual interest because you'll be solving any problems that were making your depression worse.

I'm a little curious about why your partner has been willing to live without sex for so long. Could it be that you were losing interest in sex because she wasn't that interested herself? Loyalty is a lovely virtue, but a more randy partner might have initiated sex in a way that would help you to find your wood. Please forgive me if I have misinterpreted your situation. You didn't describe the whole history or state of this relationship to me. But I think women often make the mistake of thinking that sex has to happen if and only if a man seduces them. Turning the tables can really help when he's low energy and not sure he's in the mood.

Even if the two of you are not having sex, you and your wife can give each other massages, share hot tubs or saunas together, talk about how you feel about life and share hopes and dreams. And you can help each other to masturbate. That's a form of sexuality that is really intimate, perhaps more so than intercourse, and it's good for times when a person just needs to get back in touch with his or her own body without the pressure of getting a partner to come during intercourse.

Good luck with finding a more helpful doctor, a good therapist, and an improvement in your life. Keep in touch.

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