Although multiple factors may influence the sexual function of depressed women over the course of treatment, the independent contributions of these factors are poorly understood. The current study examined the effects of depression, SSRI treatment, and sexual partner availability on women's sexual function. The sexual function of 68 recurrently depressed women was assessed at 3-month intervals over a 1-year course of treatment with interpersonal psychotherapy with or without adjunctive SSRI treatment. Random regression models assessing changes in sexual function were conducted to test the effects of three time-dependent covariates: depression symptom scores, sexual partner availability, and SSRI medication status. Controlling for the other variables, depressive symptoms were associated with decrements in sexual desire, sexual cognition/fantasy, sexual arousal, orgasmic function, and global evaluations of sexual function. SSRI treatment was associated with orgasmic difficulty only. The availability of a sexual partner was associated with increased sexual arousal, orgasmic function, and sexual behavior. Among treatment remitters, patient reports of severe sexual dysfunction did not change over the course of treatment, although mild improvement was observed in patients' global assessment of the quality of their sexual function. This report illustrates the prevalence and persistence of sexual dysfunction in this sample, and highlights the importance of monitoring both pharmacologic and psychosocial variables that can affect the sexual function of recurrently depressed women throughout the course of treatment.
Journal of Psychiatric Research – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2004
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