Affective disorders and sexual function: from neuroscience to clinic

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Purpose of review

Sexual dysfunction is a frequent issue in patients with affective disorders, affecting its quality of life and posing challenges to the approach of these patients.

Recent findings

In recent years, human sexuality has attracted interest from the scientific community, and today we have a much deeper knowledge of the mechanisms involved in the sexual response. Paraphilias or sexual dysfunctions like low sexual desire, premature ejaculation, and erectile dysfunction, are frequent in affective disorders, and the frequency of each sexual problem varies according to the affective disorder. Comparing what is currently known about the sexual response with the main neurobiological findings of depressive, anxiety, obsessive–compulsive and posttraumatic stress disorders, it is possible to better understand specific sexual complaints of patients with these disorders.


A better understanding of sexual function in affective disorders may help clinicians to choose treatments more suited to specific needs of these patients. Although the current state of science already allows us to have some understanding about sexual function in affective disorders, this critical area of research is still in its infancy, waiting for more investment.

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