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Phenomenology of SSRI induced low sexual desire in women treated for depression
Neville, Susan E
Brandon University, Faculty of Health Studies
Includes bibliographical references (pages 134-144).
"In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Psychiatric Nursing."
Healthy sexual functioning is a topic often not discussed in the mental health field (Arcos, 2004). Women are diagnosed with depression at twice the rate of men and are more frequently prescribed Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s) than their male counter parts (Bigos et al, 2009; Fabre and Smith, 2012). SSRI’s have been well documented to cause sexual side effects such as loss of desire for sexual activity. While the incidence of sexual side effects is well documented, the effect it has upon women’s lives and how it impacts women has not been actively researched. This research focuses on gaining a better understanding of the phenomenon by asking the question: What is the lived experience of women who are diagnosed with depression, treated with SSRI medications, and living with the sexual side effect of low or absent desire? Semi-structured interviews were conducted with three women via telephone interviews and analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis for superordinate and subordinate themes. Four superordinate themes were identified through this analysis: Making a Choice – Duality of being mentally well or sexually well, Engaging in Sexual Acts – The sexual experience, Why Don’t You Love Me? – Impact of and upon spouse, and Is This Normal? – Talking to others and making comparisons. These themes were further broken down into fifteen subordinate themes. Findings substantiate that women’s sexuality is multifactorial, complex, and sexual side effects from SSRIs are further impacted by relationship dynamics, societal/cultural roles, and communication styles within the relationship. Research and clinical implications of these findings support addressing sexual side effects of SSRI medications from an individual perspective to a couple perspective. Addressing the additional factors impacting women’s sexual functioning and satisfaction may assist to mitigate the sexual side effects of SSRI medications.
Antidepressants--Side effectsSexual disordersWomen--Health and hygieneSexual health
Brandon UniversityFaculty of Health Studies