Recovering from PSSD

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July 11, 2014 | 16 Comments

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  1. I decided to stop taking the drug Sulpiride after noticing an increased amount of side effects which included a decrease of libido and dampening of all my emotions generally. After seeing my GP it was agreed I should reduce gradually the dosage over a four week period. Over a very short time it is obvious this was the right thing to do as my libido has returned to normal and other side effects have now diminished and are continuing to do so.
    My mood has improved considerably.
    In short I think it is negative to think people who experience PSSD will never return to near normal and agree the best way forward is to stay positive. If I had continued on Sulpiride, which is a form of anti-depressant and anti psychotic drug – I would have run into a similar side effect -as PSSD. It was a no-brainer to come off it.
    I realise not everyone can choose this route – however I hope my notes will give some sense of optimism and even trigger a possible cure. Who knows?

  2. G:

    Sulpiride is not an SSRI. PSSD stands for Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction, so your example, while positive, is unrelated to this subject.

  3. I don’t want to share any stories that dont belong to me, but for a little while while going through different forum sites, i’d note any success story regarding pssd, or anyone reporting significant recovery whether directly or for someone else. I’d also keep note of people reporting improvements and then eventually disappearing (you can only assume these people went on only to continue to improve). For most of these cases the healing was natural. Most mentioned light exercise, healthy diet/lifestyle changes, sometimes supplementation, and even getting out there practicing sex with an understanding partner and a positive/relaxed mindset would sometimes help. Losing all of your confidence about sex and feeling anxious about it wont help… That’s not to say having a positive attitude cures PSSD of course, or even really helps it… It just doesn’t make it worse than it has to be. Giving it time is biggest thing. i dont know 2 stories that were identical so everyone will be different going through this.

    I only did this for a few weeks, but i got about 18-20 pssd success stories (people feeling recovered over time, most likely naturally). and about 22 people reporting improvements (i know theres a lot more, but i just didn’t keep note). Most of these people might turn out to be success stories one day, or they’ll just stop posting on the internet, who knows. i know 40 doesn’t seem like much, but like i said, this is a sample – had i been more religious about this i’m sure these numbers would be higher. I didn’t keep track of each story, it’d just jot down anytime i’d see someone mentioning natural recovery of any kind. I didn’t do it for very long and 40 is what i got. Better than nothing.

  4. Neuromancer – Thanks for the comment – I was merely trying to show that my symptoms were beginning to show a similarity to PSSD – shutters were beginning to come down on all my emotions – if I had continued to take the drug I may well have developed something similar:)

  5. On SurvivingAntidepressants.org, we have a number of people who have recovered from PSSD. My belief is that just as most people recover from antidepressant withdrawal syndrome within a few months to a few years, they recover from PSSD.

    PSSD is a component of the autonomic dysruption caused by antidepressant use and withdrawal, as are the symptoms of withdrawal syndrome.

    I myself have recovered from PSSD. After coming off Paxil in October 2004, among other withdrawal symptoms I had the absolute genital anesthesia, which lasted for perhaps a year. Very slowly, genital sensation came back.

    Then I experienced perhaps 3 years of “ghost” orgasms, in which arousal is followed by what would have been an orgasm but instead, a non-event lacking sensation, and then a refractory period.

    Following that, I had perhaps a 4-year phase of “ghost” orgasms with occasional weak orgasms, which gradually became stronger and more frequent.

    At about 9 years post-Paxil, I was fully recovered from PSSD. As I was menopausal before I came off Paxil, my belief is younger people with full complements of sexual hormones will tend to recover faster. However, recovery from PSSD can be almost imperceptibly gradual, which can be masked or even impeded by the very understandable frustration, anger, and despair brought on by the condition.

    • Alto

      Thanks for this.

      Alto also added in an email to me: I think it’s very, very important to bring apparently irreversible PSSD to the attention of the medical community. However, it is also important to note that recovery might occur over a period of years and most people probably recover sooner.

      Perhaps the best way to frame the risk is to note that PSSD may occur after going off antidepressants (even with no other apparent withdrawal symptoms) and recovery is a bell curve, with most people recovering with a year or two, others recovering within 10 years, but a minority at the extreme right tail not seeing recovery after many years or perhaps ever (these people still being followed).

      I think this condition is very, very difficult for young men, who may become preoccupied with suicide as a result. It’s also difficult for young women, but the ones I’ve known seem to have a slightly more balanced view of their sexual identities.

      Response from DH:

      Alto your account of recovery is one of the most convincing there is and it holds out hope. But PSSD looks more like tardive dyskinesia to me than part of a withdrawal syndrome. TD appears in withdrawal from antipsychotics but we don’t say most people are likely to recover and we probably feel that even in those who recover there is likely to be something not right.

      All I can say is that I have seen none of those who have actually come to me recover significantly. I have seen no evidence that people who are younger recover better – quite the contrary in fact. Many however have recovered in the sense of managed to realize this is not all there is to them – even some of the men have recovered in this sense.

      My personal opinion is that people need to know of the very real existence of this problem before taking an SSRI – just as women need to know of the risk of birth defects and possible developmental delay in any children they may conceive while on treatment.

      DH

      • David, all I can do is point to our collection of withdrawal syndrome case histories here http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/forum/3-introductions-and-updates/

        I am gathering these accounts as longitudinal reports of the progress of withdrawal and prolonged post-acute withdrawal syndrome. They are self-selected in that only people who are in some degree of difficulty already are likely to search the Web and post in an Internet forum about withdrawal syndrome.

        Thus, they are most likely skewed towards more difficult cases and exclude the few who easily went cold turkey and the majority who completely recover from withdrawal syndrome within a month or few — the left half of the bell curve. (That still leaves half the population at risk for serious injury.)

        We have people who have suffered tardive dyskinesia from psychiatric drug use or withdrawal and have recovered from that, too, as well as those who have recovered from PSSD. These are first-hand, real-time reports. Often, these case histories contain many posts despairing of ever getting better, then (very frustrating) glimmers of improvement, and finally relief from the symptom.

        I absolutely agree the risks must be communicated in the strongest terms to the medical community — but we need to take care to avoid overstatement, or we will not be convincing. Medicine understands bell curves, we are filling in the parameters demonstrating a range of damage from psychiatric drugs; the extremes on both ends are in the minority. Surely iatrogenic conditions that take years to recovery are bad enough to constitute serious medical risk!

  6. A peptide called PT 141 (Bremelanotide) works very well for a temporary sex drive. Although it feels mechanical, it does allow a person to have sex.

  7. I took one pill of lexapro almost 3 years ago and i’m still completely impotent, i never experienced “waves” or “windows” so i’m gonna probably stay impotent for the rest of my life at only 24 years old…

    • I hope you be better of the PSSD. Your post is 2 year old and as I am 26 , you are also same. I am feeling these symptoms as I discontinued Zoloft and Paroxytine before.
      I am feeling devastated as this is the time when you should be in your best , while I am in my zero. If sth has helped you, then pls reply

  8. Don’t be silly and take steroids to fix this problem , il only make the problem worse steroids ,raise testosterone levels while ur on it and this won’t guarantee u great sex drive , some guys go limp while on steroids because of elevated estrogen and even while take anti estrogens, u can’t live the rest of your life on steroids either ,as soon as you get off and the longer u have been on them ,ur testosterone will be very very low it will take a long time to recover if at all , so in that time you will be impotent ,ur testicles will atrophy and could cause infertility along with gynecomastia , don’t mess with steroids, unless a Dr prescribed trt and regulates dosages and side effects

  9. Hope’s everyone who leaved a comment here are better.

    In my case, i think my “pssd” beggining after SSRI use so don’t know wich category could fall..it was after a panic attack that started a severe depression episode wiped my sexuality..it was in 2012. And still waiting for the old huge sex drive to come. Still have bad anxiety and depression,so i’m trying to find a fix without sexual side effects.
    Without getting better will never know if that will bring this “pssd” to an end.
    The SSRI worsened the pre-existing problems, but it’s of my belief that the SSRI effects gone shortly after cessation of treatment.
    Everyone if have a similar history to mine or want to chat, feel free to PM me.

    Thanks

    ps.i’m portuguese

  10. Submitted anonymously

    This condition is not worse for males, or young people. I am a female in my forties and I am absolutely devastated and preoccupied with suicidal thoughts as a result of PSSD. My sexual functioning is not just “one part of my life.” It is absolutely vital to having a life worth living for me.

  11. Started Seroxat in 1994/1995.
    2012 – 2017 untreated hyperthyroidism due to seroxat. Penis went dead the same year. Numb. No desire. No attraction. Penis like rubber. Burns too. Shit orgasms. Start of an erection at base but soft end half.

  12. This condition is horrifying and I personally was never warned of any prolonged sexual dysfunction coming off these medications. Since I was 23, I was prescribed these a range of drugs from Effexor, wellbrutrin, cymbalta, each causing severe sexual dysfunction. I suffered from GAD and social anxiety disorder. The medications worked wonders and was an easy fix but caused my my sex life. I must note that each time I came off these meds (short time frame taken), my sexual function returned. That was before landing on lexapro. I took lexapro from 2010 to 2015. I suffered severe sexual dysfunction on lexapro but when I met my wife in 2013, my doctor added mirapex and cialis to combat the sexual dusfunction. It worked very well but I’m early 2015 something changed (cialis tolerance) and my sex life was again in the toilet. My doctor then switched me to a drug called brintellix, which upon taking it any sexual function remaining was now completely gone. I tried a couple other medication switches to get the sexual function back but nothing worked. I have been medication free for 8 months now and have all of the effects as was as sexual side effects of the meds. No anxiety, no erections, numb genitals, pleasureless orgasms. I have had some “moments” like this article suggests but they are few and far in between. I am not sure which drug caused this, but my brain feels fried. 8 months post cessesation I still fee medicated. I also have some of physical symptoms of high serotonin (dialated pupils in sunlight, headaches, high blood pressure, and unexplained moments of extreme diahrea). I had a blood test and it showed I was an overmethlator, meaning my body is producing too much serotonin. I find that extremely entertaining as the theory behind my anxiety disorder was “not enough serotonin”. I think it is important to note via my experience that the longer you stay on these things, the greater at risk you are for this occurring. My sexual function always returned, followed by the anxiety every time until I decided to stay on lexapro for 5 years and three other drugs at the problem so I could stay on the lexapro. Doctors try and get you to comply with taking these medications by taking more medication (viagra, etc…) to combat the unwanted sexual side effects. In retrospect, this is absolutely absurd and I want to let people know that if you are presented with this strategy, you need to weigh the risks that the longer you stay on the drugs the greater risk you may be for something like this happening. I became tolerant to the cialis, which let me on the lexapro, but when cialis tolerance became an issue and I tried to regain sexual functioning by ditching the meds, it was potentially too late. Drugs should only be prescribed when absolutely necessary. Incompetent psychiatrists and psychologists will try to get you hooked these damn meds thinking that they are harmless instead of teaching you methods to deal with your issue. If you can cope with your condition medication free, I suggest you do it before it’s too late. These medications are NOT safe. I don’t know if I will ever recover, but perhaps we can earn others this condition is for real so they can make informed decisions.

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