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Can J Psychiatry. 2006 Mar;51(4):234-42.

Sexual function during bupropion or paroxetine treatment of major depressive disorder.

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  • 1University of Toronto, Ontario. sidney.kennedy@uhn.on.ca



The primary objective was to evaluate sexual function (SF) separately in men and women with major depressive disorder (MDD) before and during treatment with bupropion sustained release (SR) or paroxetine. The secondary objectives involved a comparative evaluation of the Sex Effects Scale (Sex FX) and the Investigator-Rated Sexual Desire and Functioning Scale (IRSD-F), as well as a comparison of antidepressant outcomes and an examination of the relation between level of depression and SF over time.


There were 141 patients (68 women and 73 men) who met DSM-IV criteria for a current major depressive episode. They were randomly assigned to receive bupropion SR (150 to 300 mg daily) or paroxetine (20 to 40 mg daily) under double-blind trial conditions. Patients were assessed at baseline and at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks with the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS17), Sex FX, and IRSD-F.


Prior to treatment, women reported significantly lower SF on both the Sex FX and IRSD-F scales, compared with men. During treatment, there were no significant drug differences on measures of SF over time for women; however, men who were treated with paroxetine reported a worsening of SF, whereas bupropion SR did not significantly alter SF. Both bupropion SR and paroxetine produced clinically and statistically significant reductions in HDRS17 scores as well as comparable rates of response and remission. There was a statistically significant correlation between the 2 measures of SF at all visits. There was also a significant inverse relation between depression and SF in women, but not in men, irrespective of drug.


According to the Sex FX scale, a significant difference in antidepressant-related sexual dysfunction was detected in men, but not women, during treatment with bupropion SR or paroxetine.

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