Prescription Drugs and Sex Therapy

An Atlanta Sex Therapist explains her role in the treatment of both sexual and psychological problems. While licensed marriage and family therapists don’t prescribe medications, they play a crucial role in the successful treatment of anxiety, depression and sexual dysfunction.
Amy Howard

Amy Howard

The role of licensed therapists in the treatment of depression, anxiety and sexual dysfunction

Sex Therapists stand at the intersection of social, medical and psychological treatments for Anxiety, Depression and Sexual Performance problems.

Understanding the relationship between prescription drugs and sex therapy is part of making sure your treatment is successful.

Perhaps you’ve Googled “erectile dysfunction and anti-depressants” or maybe you’ve asked Bing how to manage the sexual side effects of Zoloft, Celexa, Prozac or Lexapro. They’re among the most commonly asked questions on the internet.

If you’ve been searching for a while, you probably understand there’s a lot of complicated and often contradictory information out there about the connection between prescription drugs, depression, anxiety and sexual performance problems.

Over the 14 years that I’ve been seeing clients in Atlanta, anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications have become so common that many forget to tell me they have a prescription. It’s essential that you inform your certified sex therapist or licensed marriage and family therapist of any prescription medications you take.

As therapists, we need to understand the entire picture to effectively treat your problems. And, while licensed therapists don’t prescribe medications, many of us have training in pharmacology and the ways prescription drugs influence sexual performance and mood.

I was trained in the biopsychosocial model which helps me understand the connection between biology, psychology and social/environmental factors and a client’s health. My training and experience show me every day that a client’s problems are connected and that these issues may be more layered than we assume.

For example, someone enters therapy complaining about early ejaculation. I ask a variety of questions seeking to understand how an apparent medical condition may influence a psychological condition. Or perhaps it’s the psychological condition that’s influencing the medical condition.

The treatment process I often use with early ejaculation includes a few basic questions to help understand the source of the problem. It’s important that we discuss not only how the client feels after an encounter, but before and during, as well.

  • Is the client angry with themselves as a result of early ejaculation?
  • Do they feel detached and or ashamed?
  • Do they project blame on their partner?
  • When do these negative feelings start? Before, during, or after the episode?

How a client talks (or doesn’t talk) about these episodes is important because we establish patterns based on our experiences. If an experience is negative or traumatic, many people will avoid putting themselves into that situation again. These patterns can quickly become blueprints for our sexual relationships, with damaging and long-lasting consequences.

It’s a well established fact that anti-depressant medications such as Prozac, Celexa and other Seratonin Re-uptake Inhibitors can cause erectile dysfunction in certain men. A licensed counselor with biopsychosocial training can help navigate both the emotional and medical sides of the problem.

The Connection Between Prescription Drugs and Sex Therapy

I often consult with prescribing psychiatrists and physicians to ensure the client receives the medication that best treats their physical and emotional challenges, while limiting the negative side effects such as erectile dysfunction.

I collaborate with medical professionals to address the physical factors of a problem.

  • Does the client need a referral to a urologist for a medical work-up?
  • Would the client benefit from a pelvic floor therapy consultation to gauge pelvic floor muscle tone?
  • Is the client on medication that is effecting their ability to ejaculate?
  • Could the client benefit from some prescription medication that might slow down his sexual response?

There are four things that keep anxiety and depression at bay.

1. Talk Therapy

Few problems are fixed by ignoring them. Talk therapy is a clinically proven way to address emotional and physical problems.

2. Physical Exercise

Our bodies are meant to move and denying them that exercise can cause physical and emotional problems that may impact sexual performance and mood.

3. Contemplative Practice

Meditation, prayer, yoga, or any regular contemplative practice that involves quiet, peaceful stillness is an essential part of our self care. Making time, daily, to relax yourself reduces anxiety and can reverse depression without the side effects of prescription drugs.

4. Prescription Medication

For many, the last resort is prescription medications. This is because, quite honestly, nobody really knows how anti-depressants work. And the side effects, such as sexual dysfunction, can have significant effects on sexual performance and your relationship. These side effects can cause the very depression and anxiety the medications were prescribed to reduce.

If you think prescription drugs could be affecting your sexual performance, or if you’re considering a prescription to treat sexual dysfunction, a Licensed Couples and Family Therapist with biospsychosocial training could be an excellent treatment partner.

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Amy Howard makes it easy to start the process of fixing your relationship. Schedule a free 10-minute phone consultation today and begin your journey toward a healthier, more loving and satisfying life.

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