Sexual Dysfunction from Antipsychotics Common — But Poorly Monitored by Physicians

Rob Wipond
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Describing the prevalence and management of adverse effects from antipsychotics as “a neglected area” of study, a team of researchers from the UK has published a systematic review in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. They aimed to identify the prevalence of, and management strategies for nine categories of adverse effects, including sedation, weight gain, metabolic syndrome, sexual dysfunction and cardiovascular effects.

The researchers reviewed 53 studies, and catalogued the rates of side effects identified in them. They found that “antipsychotic polypharmacy was associated with increased frequency of adverse effects.” They also found that longer duration of treatment was associated with more severe adverse effects.

“The most frequently reported or observed antipsychotic side effects identified were sexual dysfunction, metabolic problems and weight gain,” the researchers wrote. They found that up to 59% of male patients reported sexual dysfunction, compared to 25–50% of women.

The researchers also found that clinicians were generally not monitoring side effects nor developing management strategies for them very effectively. “Five of the seven studies which addressed baseline testing and follow-up monitoring revealed disappointing levels as low as 0% compliance with monitoring, despite guideline recommendations,” the authors wrote.

“Antipsychotic adverse effects are diverse and frequently experienced, but are not often systematically assessed,” they concluded. “There is a need for further scientific study concerning the management of these side effects.”

(Abstract) “First do no harm.” A systematic review of the prevalence and management of antipsychotic adverse effects. (Young, Su Ling et al. Journal of Psychopharmacology. Published online before print December 16, 2014. doi: 10.1177/0269881114562090)

21 COMMENTS

    • yes, I’ve suggested exactly this before Robb…there is much talk about SSRIs and the sexual dysfunction they cause because they’re handed out like candy to everyone. The antipsychotics are (more frequently) handed out to people who have already been marginalized and those “truly” mentally ill folk can’t actually be having sex, right? It may seem like a cynical thought but I do think it’s the case. I figured out that neuroleptics affected sexual functioning many years ago but there is virtually no commentary on it unlike for the SSRIs.

      The SSRIs and benzos are routinely given to what I facetiously call the “normal neurotics,” while the other drugs are given to those of us with SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS…we don’t have sex apparently and shouldn’t.

      This is an instance in which the mass prescribing of antipsychotics for everything may actually provide some kickback…though as usual we need much more.

  1. First, the doctor puts you on a “safe smoking cessation med,” Wellbutrin, which doesn’t help you quit smoking, isn’t “safe,” messes up your dopamine system, and causes hyper sexual side effects. Then to fix that “genetic” (not) issue, the doctor who “knows everything about the meds,” puts you on an antipsychotic, Risperdal, whose supposed only possible adverse effect is “increased thirst.” But actually that antipsychotic further messes up your dopamine system and causes a terrifying psychosis.

    So when a person has severe adverse reactions to a neuroleptic, what does a psychiatrist do next? Take the person off neuroleptics, as would be logical? Hell no, he tries every other neuroleptic available on the market, in conjunction with other psych meds that have major drug interaction warnings, on the patient. Because, of course, neuroleptics are “new wonder drugs” and no one in the history of the universe has ever had bad reactions to neuroleptics, according to the psychiatrists.

    Perhaps the doctors should stop mandating drugs that cause sexual side effects, and stay out of other people’s private sex lives instead? And I do so hope the psychiatric industry will learn that it’s been written about in medical journals that antipsychotics CAUSE psychosis in healthy people since 1964. None of my psychiatrists were aware of any adverse effects of antipsychotics, except increased thirst, at all.

    Definitely, the plethora of adverse effects of antipsychotics are a “‘neglected area’ of study” by psychiatrists. It took my oral surgeon’s wisdom, “antipsychotics don’t cure concerns of child abuse,” to finally embarrass my psychiatrist enough to wean me off the toxic, psychosis causing, “antipsychotics.”

    Of what true benefit to society is a field of “medicine” that thinks the adverse effects of their drugs are “genetic” illnesses? Psych drugs create iatrogenic illnesses, not “genetic” illnesses.

  2. Thanks for addressing this topic. I was affected by it because my late boyfriend and I both took antipsychotic drugs for a while. It affected our sex life for two of the 17 years we were together. I’d say it was far harder on my BF because in general men are more embarrassed about such things. I asked my BF if he had ever mentioned it to his prescriber or PCP. He said he didn’t dare. I wonder if doctors dare ask, for fear of the answer. I knew my BF was scared the condition was permanent whether he got off the drug (Risperdal) or not. We found out that it wasn’t permanent one day when we were in the tunnels at McLean Hospital. They talk about the Mile High Club? Well….I consider us among the famous few. I wouldn’t be saying this except I know my late BF found it as funny as I did, and is most likely still laughing in Heaven.

  3. ““Antipsychotic adverse effects are diverse and frequently experienced, but are not often systematically assessed,” they concluded. “There is a need for further scientific study concerning the management of these side effects.””

    omg… so now we need to spend even more money on research to figure out what should have needed to be known before the drugs were even released? No. I think we have far too much research as it is, far too much tax payer money lining the pockets of corrupt doctors and academics. We have more than enough research to support pulling these drugs off the market entirely, not spending another billion dollars trying to figure out how psychiatrists can lesson some of the massive harms they are causing.

    • I also find that quote jarring. They found that nobody cares to assess the side effects and even less to do anything to prevent/mitigate them but “more STUDIES are needed?”. How about a hefty fine for every so-called doctor who does not provide his/her patients with information about the drugs and a jail sentence for those who endanger their patients forcing them on this shit?

  4. The psychiatric diagnosis is like a snowball going downhill, the longer you have the diagnosis, the bigger the physical and psychological effects.
    —–
    Getting rid of the worthless has been around since the beginning of time.

    You have to have a purpose in your life, and perform work of some kind.

    If you do not, you are like the Biblical ” The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree…”And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.'”

  5. I don’t think that the psychiatrists at the state hospital where I work even consider the people under their control, the so-called “patients”, as sexual beings at all. This is the absolute number one forbidden topic to ever talk about. They certainly are cautioned to not become involved in relationships since this is too “demanding” for people labeled as mentally ill, after all, they’re not supposed to have real lives like everyone else, those we call the “normals”.

    • I’ve seen this nonsense on-line: people “diagnosed” with “bipolar” asking if they can have kids since this is such a horrible disease and it’s genetic. It makes me sick to even read that coming from desperate women and men “I really want to have kids but I don’t know if it is responsible from me because I’m seriously mentally ill” and “good advice” – “don’t have kids”. Funny how I don’t see that for diabetes or cancer or any other “genetic disease” (for this definition it would be every disease there is – they are all somewhat genetic). It’s ridiculous and it destroys people’s lives. I find it absolutely disgusting.

      • Back to markps2’s links, we’re living through psychiatry’s newest fraudulent eugenics movement. And there are people all over the web (not just in relation to psychiatry’s crimes) who also see the appalling crimes that occurred in Germany happening here, now.

        We are supposed to learn from the mistakes of history, and it seems the unethical currently in charge are the ones who did not learn from some of history’s most egregious crimes against humanity.

        I hope, B, when you are on those websites you direct people here, for an alternative viewpoint.

        • I do but I have no idea how much good it does. I’m afraid that I’m being seen as a “scientologist loon” – this smear seems to be effective. And the chemical imbalance lie is also effective – whenever I write something about invalidity of labels my post gets drowned by replies quoting this bs to no end. It feels like fighting a losing battle.

  6. “prevalence of, and management strategies for nine categories of adverse effects, including sedation, weight gain, metabolic syndrome, sexual dysfunction and cardiovascular effects.”
    They have “management strategies”? That’s new… There are no strategies to manage the “side effects except for tapering people off these drugs asap.

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