This here bringer of the pooper to the fun party

Wherein I answer a frequently asked question

So, hey! How about some oversharing! No? Too bad! You’ve come to the wrong website!

That is, unless you were searching for “antidepressant” and “sex drive.” Then, welcome! Hey-ohhh!

I get this question a lot, actually. Usually it goes like this: “So, yeah, I hope this isn’t too personal, and I totally understand if you don’t want to answer this, but I was just wondering if, maybe, you know, um…” And then there’s three more paragraphs of trying to get to the point because, as you might imagine, it can be a little awkward when asking a total stranger HOW HARD IS IT FOR YOU TO ORGASM?!

Let’s put it this way. I was on Zoloft for, what, nine years? And then I stopped taking it because I wanted to get pregnant and didn’t think it was safe for pregnancy. NOTE: DUMB IDEA. Well, dumb in terms of wanting to kill myself, but not so dumb for suddenly being as horny as a fourteen-year-old boy alone in his room with a poster of Heather Locklear in a bikini.

WHOA, did that just date me, or what? Fourteen-year-old boys are horny, right? I wasn’t ever one, so I’m no expert. But my brother was fourteen once, and that’s my only reference. On one wall there was Heather Locklear, on another there was Heather Thomas, and then above his bed there was Kathy Ireland.

Unrelated: I went back to blonde to hide all the gray in my hair.

Anyway, once the Zoloft was out of my system Jon had to sit me down and have a talk. He was like, dude, we can’t keep up this pace or you’re going to kill me. And I was all, why are you talking and not taking off my clothes?

Then the postpartum hit, and it was back to the sex-killing antidepressant. Prozac this time, and it was just like Zoloft. Meaning, no sex drive. But I didn’t want to kill myself. That’s the trade-off. And as a couple we work with that trade-off, meaning Jon is very generous. And I try to be the same in return.

Ahem.

So I casually mentioned to my psychiatrist about a month ago that sometimes not having a sex drive makes me feel like I’m not human.

Now that I’ve written that down I suddenly feel incredibly sad. Because so many of us who suffer from depression have to live like this. Like robots. The alternative is living in hell. So we choose robot.

Yes, we have sex. We have great sex, but every once in a while I’d like to feel a bit, oh, I don’t know, primal? I’d like to have rips in my clothing that I’ve self-inflicted. I want Jon to walk into the bedroom and be all, oh god, not again, woman.

So he suggested a change in meds. I guess this is my meds update! Yay for you!

I tapered off of Prozac for a week and then started taking Cymbalta. He said it was the one antidepressant that could claim that it might not reduce your sex drive. So far I haven’t felt a difference, but I’m going to give it some time. I’m hopeful. And I guess being able to say that, to feel that, is why I take the drugs in the first place. And it’s why, if I have to, I will live with the trade-off.

  • ChickWhitt

    The trade-offs are the part I HATE about taking medicine. I get to be a normal me, but in return I worry about what I will do during pregnancy and nursing, my sex drive sucks sometimes, I can’t drink, I can’t miss medicine or I am crazy-woman, & I get to be the person in my family who has to take medicine to be happy.

    Thank you for always being so honest about your experiences. I can’t explain how much it helps to know that I am not the only one feeling these ways.

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    Great post on so many fronts. Thank you!

  • kcbelles

    I can’t even imagine what you (and everyone else in the same boat) must go through to feel “normal.” I’m so very sorry that you all do, but I do think it’s terrific that there’s a somewhat livable solution. Perhaps in time someone will come up with a much better anti-depressant. I certainly hope so.

    Kudos to you, Heather, for being so outspoken and sharing something like this. As evidenced by the first poster, it’s good for anyone else going through the same thing to see that they’re not alone.

  • MissCaron

    Thank you so much for always being so honest. It’s quite refreshing. I’ve been on Prozac, Lexapro, Celexa, just to name a few and I think that because anxiety drives a lot of my depression the Lexapro works best. I think also, that it doesn’t affect my sex drive as much as some others although it certainly doesn’t help. I compare it to taking birth control… it doesn’t completely squash the desire but it doesn’t help it. If that makes any sense at all. Anyway, great post. I hope that the new regimen works for you!

  • Boxcar

    Thanks for helping me remember that I’m not the only one that has this problem. And btw, I’ve been on Cymbalta for a year-ish, for pretty much the same reason (‘cept I’m a guy), but I haven’t noticed much difference.

    It does beat the hell of no meds, though.

    And yes, if I remember properly, fourteen year old boys are horny.

  • adi82

    Wait, so you’re saying that when I’m off the Zoloft I should feel like a 14 yr old boy?! I feel so jipped; it’s never been that way for me.

    So being off the Zoloft during pregnancy was a bad thing then? I’m currently debating getting off to get pregnant even though they say it’s “safe”. My doctor said it’s up to me, but I don’t know what to do!!

  • la_bacque

    I appreciate your honestly, and feel grateful that I don’t have severe depression. I like being horny like a 14 year old boy.

  • imjeffp

    I had libido on Welbutrin, but I also had anxiety attacks. Back to Effexor & Viagra. Especially frustrating when your hangups already include delayed ejaculation. Don’t be fooled, women may like a man who can go all night, but they’re not always crazy about one who HAS to go all night.

  • MissCaron

    BTW… great article about anti-depressants…

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/antidepressants/HQ01069

  • Starr

    Thank you so much for sharing. Sometimes I wonder if I am the only woman in the world who does not want to have sex. The trade off is difficult, but I’m fairly certain my family would prefer me healthy and alive.

  • Sundae

    Wow Heather, thanks for sharing. Really, you have alot of balls (he he) and I admire that! Hope it works. 🙂

  • Katie Kat

    “Now that I’ve written that down I suddenly feel incredibly sad. Because so many of us who suffer from depression have to live like this. Like robots. The alternative is living in hell. So we choose robot.”

    Oh sister… you said a mouthful. My sex drive is NEGATIVE it’s so non-existent. I’d give about anything to feel that “OMGMUSTHAVESEXNOW!NOW!NOW!” feeling again! So now my hubby is all excited because I’m trying a new therapy (biofeedback) which MIGHT allow me to get off my meds. We’ll see… in the meantime, it’s enough to depress ya.

  • Mommytopia

    Dude, my doctor changed me from Prozac to Mirtazapine. Side effect? Spontaneous orgasms. I just have to cross my legs like a lady to have a good time. I’ll take the ugly planter as a “Thank you.”

  • dianemaggipintovoiceover

    are you sure it’s not merely having children, having given birth, that depletes libido? because i am not clinically depressed and i’ve got very, very, very little sex drive. that seems so not me; pre-bambino i was all ‘bring it.’

    crap. i hope the search engines don’t find me out here!

    jon, again! i need another user name …

  • ElleTark

    While I knew that women peak sexually at 30-something, I didn’t know that women turn into sex-obsessed maniacs (i.e., 14-year old boys) at 30-something. It was a shock to me, and I’ve even considered starting birth control to get my libido in check. My point is that there is another side to the fence, as you pointed out, and it is exhausting and takes it’s own unique toll on my mind.

  • Amanda Brumfield

    I’m on Lexapro and I have to say, after trying several antidepressants, it has not reduced my sex drive much at all. Also it has kicked my depression in the ass. Amen.

    Very little is more frustrating than not having a sex drive or not being able to achieve orgasm. Girls get blue balls too.

  • kristanhoffman

    Kudos, lady. And no, I don’t mean the snack bar.

    Once again, you are stepping up and broadcasting intimate details of your life in order to help other people. I truly applaud that.

    I feel fortunate not to need anti-depressants, but I can identify a little bit. I had to try 3 different birth controls before I found one that let me feel like myself. (On the first, I was crazy emo, crying over absolutely nothing all the time. On the second, I was emotionally stable but had zero sex drive. Not sure which was worse for my boyfriend… :P)

    So yeah, it’s probably worth trying different meds, because everyone’s biochemistry is different and you never know what might work for you.

    Good luck, and hey, you are not a robot. I mean, I don’t know any robots that are funny. Well, maybe C3PO and R2D2… but they’re not *intentionally* funny. You, my dear, have real wit. 🙂

  • Ames422

    That is so weird. I am sure I totally wrote this post yet I have no memory of doing so. Hmmm.:)

  • alh071

    A-men, I feel the same about my Lexapro and my GAD. I prefer not being a monster to having a sex drive. I tried to add Wellbutrin for all of one day to see if I could have both — and I can’t. Which is fine with me and with my partner, she put up with my crap for far too long! Now when something happens that would have once sent me into the fetal position or caused me to throw things, and I now am able to calmly deal with it, she kisses the Lexapro bottle.

  • tracy

    I’m currently at a loss for words right now, as you have just verbalized (again) what I’m thinking & can’t express to my husband.

    I’m on Zoloft, Adderall, and Xanax (almost daily),and see a therapist & a shrink. I’m all kinds of messed up, although my shrink does his best to convince me otherwise.

    There was a day this summer when E was napping and hubs & I were working outside in the garden. He had his shirt off, and he looked good. Suffice it to say, I beckoned him into the house for some relations, & it was hot. That was the last time I had the “I have to have him now” feeling, for more reasons than just the meds, but that’s a whole other story.

    The lack of sex is a major struggle in our marriage, so it’s amazing to read your post & the comments & not feel like I’m the only one who lives with the trade-off. And that perhaps I need to learn to be more, ahem, generous.

  • Circe74

    Huh… I’ve been on Effexor for about 12 years, and I’ve never noticed that it caused a decrease in my sex drive… though I don’t – ahem – have much of an outlet to test it, so maybe that’s what keeps it running so high. Although that kind of makes me afraid of what my drive would be like WITHOUT Effexor!

    Anyone know any decent guys in MI? ;o)

  • la_bacque

    wow. your commenter crowd is overwhelmingly people being treated for depression. It’s cool that they feel like they have such great representation in you.

  • DeeDubs

    Super brave of you to post this. That’s why we all keep coming back. Thank you.

  • tallnoe

    I’m grateful for two things about now:
    1. that you talk about things that people don’t like to discuss
    2. that I’m not having to deal with your issues. I’m sorry that you have to deal with it, though.

    Here’s to hoping Cymbalta works for you!!

  • katliz

    After 17 years on hormonal birth control and 5 years on anti-depressants, I gave up in March of this year. I wanted my once insane sex drive back. After 7 months, it’s beginning to return (though much too slowly for my liking.)

    Good news: It’s much easier to maintain my weight. Bad news: My mood swings are out of control.

    I’m going to try a few more months; maybe I’ll bring up Cymbalta to my doc if I’m still having these horrendus funks…

  • tiny apple

    zoloft made me think i was starting menopause at age 29! scary! cymbalta has been lovely for the past 3 years, however i’m wondering if that’s the reason we haven’t had sex in 6 months…hmmm…either that or the pregnancy…

    as always, thanks for sharing 🙂 makes the rest of us out here in internet-land feel not so lonely!

  • HelluvaMormonFan

    I have been on Cymbalta for about 18 months. It still has the side effect of low sex drive for me, like the others. Maybe for you it’ll be different!

    Having said that, I have no problem *ahem* orgasming. It’s the sex drive that needs help.

  • Tobie

    @la_bacque, I think it’s more that people with this issue, feel more inclined to comment. I don’t have this issue (tho I have plenty others…), so I won’t necessarily leave a comment on this post. Know what I mean?

    It’s like “100% of people who filled out a complaint form at Walmart were unhappy with Walmart.” But if you *were* happy, then you wouldn’t fill out a Complaint form…I’m sure some statistical person could say it better than I can.

    Since I *am* leaving a comment – @dooce, thank you for sharing your story so openly and honestly.

  • megumphrey

    I’m the opposite. I want the sex drive, so I deal with the other consequences.

    But the other consequences include being depressed, which suppresses my sex drive.

    I might need to re-evaluate.

  • megumphrey

    I’m the opposite. I want the sex drive, so I deal with the other consequences.

    But the other consequences include being depressed, which suppresses my sex drive.

    I might need to re-evaluate.

  • freckledmama

    Did you take antidepressants while breastfeeding? What were your thoughts on it?

  • hulahulagirl

    Can I just give a shout out to Wellbutrin? It (and combined efforts of my husband and my shrink) saved my life and it has a great side effect of boosting your sex drive (YMMV). Why aren’t we all on it?!

  • writtendad

    In don’t have any sort of depression, nor do I think I really understand it in full (because I don’t think you can if you aren’t), so I have nothing to add, but part of this post hit me: “I’m hopeful. And I guess being able to say that, to feel that, is why I take the drugs in the first place.” That’s strong. That’s positive. And that’s amazing. Stay with it, Heather. You’ve done a damn fine job thus far.

    Oh, and I was a horny 14 year old at one point, so I can confirm that your analogy is spot on.

  • sandi

    I agree 100% with HulaHulaGirl! Three cheers for Wellbutrin!

    and as always Heather, a beautiful and brilliant post!

  • Schmutzie

    When the Palinode and I were first married, we were both on Paxil. Our sex life seemed pretty normal, and I believe it was, but then we both decided to go off Paxil due to looking like Stay Puft marshmallow men, and BAM!

    Suddenly, sex became absolutely incredible, but it only lasted a maximum of 30 seconds long for both of us. It was both mind-blowingly good and very convenient time-wise for about three months.

    Psych meds *shakes head*

  • shuggilippo

    What I wouldn’t give to have those primal sex-athons again that got me to Husfriendville, USA, Population: Me in the first place. I mean, there were times I had to do a triple take, just to make sure there wasn’t a dangle down under. (Update: still sporting the lady cave. Rest easy my whimsical sprite)

    The flesh on Husfriend’s back agrees with the Celexa, his cord arrow and shiny, blue pool balls? Beg to differ.

    Addition: It’s taking me loads of self-control to not turn this comment into a seemingly steamy soft core romance read. Hey-oh!

  • Becca

    Cymbalta raised my BP so watch out for that. And it didn’t bring my sex drive back. I think it’s lost ion teh Bermuda Triangle. but hey, I’m on Lexapro and I don’t want to kill my husband so that’s something…

  • Riaski

    Just when I thought I couldn’t love you more. Bravo…for everything.

  • The Phonz

    As inappropriate as this may sound, I will pray for you to regain an awesome level of horniness! I am recently single for the first time since I was 14 (now 33) and having the opposite problem. If I could give you some of it, so I wouldn’t look at every man like a nice juicy steak, I would. 🙂 Good Luck!

  • slappyintheface

    A one week taper is basically stopping cold turkey. It isn’t how long it takes the drug to get out of your system that counts, it’s how long it takes your brain to adjust to the changes. If you have any withdrawal side effects from the Prozac or start up effects from the new med, be sure to call your doctor. It took me nine months to taper off of Paxil and at times it was really rough.

  • Hagan Squared

    I was on Cymbalta for about 6 months or so a little over a year ago for anxiety reasons. It didn’t kill my sex drive at all, but I realized that it took longer and longer to actually HAVE an orgasm, then it got to the point where I couldn’t. At. All. Imagine the absolute frustration of having the sex drive, wanting the sex, needing the sex and then not be able to have an orgasm along with it? Oh my god it was awful.

  • TxSuzyQ

    Don’t feel so bad. Even those of us who aren’t on anti-depressants are usually suffering that absence of sex drive after two kids and several years of marriage. We are hoping to get ours back someday as well! lol

  • Anu

    I agree with TxSuzyQ above. Even without kids, after a 12 hour workday sex is the farthest thing from my mind 🙂

  • arielsara

    Thank you so much for writing about this. It’s really brave of you, and as always highly entertaining.

  • Mo

    The trade-off trade-off for me is that since I am more stable and present on the meds, I can actually think and care about putting effort into sex. The meds give me the drive-suppression thing too, but at least sex doesn’t seem like a possibly anxiety-inducing chore anymore. So, now I CAN have it, at all.

    I would like the primal kind, too, but the depression kind of killed that for me anyway. So, you know. It is an overall win for me. And my dude.

    (Thanks for sharing!)

  • Teresa

    To continue in the oversharing vein, I have been on Wellbutrin XL for about 6 months. Not only do a feel like a human being again, but I have never masturbated this much in my life. Apparently, Wellbutrin has the side effect of *increasing* the sex drive of some women.

    It may be contraindicated for people that have anxiety issues because it is more of an “energizing” anti-depressant, according to my psychiatrist. I do get a slight hand tremor when I drink too much coffee, so I agree with her, but hell, I can deal with that! It might be worth asking your doctor about it, as the TV commercials say.

  • tokenblogger

    Okay, that was really brave — especially — when one knows their father will be reading!

  • TigerLily

    Heather, thank you for posting this. It was brave and is much appreciated.

    I am sexually DEAD. I’ve had a complete hysterectomy, I take Zoloft for anxiety and a beta-blocker for high blood pressure. No sex drive, no orgasms. Nothing. Nada. I have resorted to faking orgasms when I do force myself to have sex with my husband. It simply SUCKS. I’ve tried Wellbutrin and it gives me palpitations. If I never had sex again in my life it would be fine by me.

    Works wonders for my marriage . . . NOT.

  • subjectivitis

    I hope it works out for you! And Jon!

  • jcaunedo

    I take prozac, lamictal, and trazadone and have the best sex drive ever. Of course i am also single and 36…. When married to a freak w/ whom i had great sex with i never wanted to…. i dont know. I just think my mid 30’s are my horny time.