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Side Effects of Effexor: Low Libido

author image Hazel Thornstein
Hazel Thornstein has been writing and editing since 2003. She writes copy for websites such as LIVESTRONG.COM and marketing materials. Thornstein is a psychotherapist, and her writing focuses on psychology and relationship issues. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications and creative writing from the University of California-Berkeley and a Master of Arts in psychology.
Side Effects of Effexor: Low Libido
Depressed woman looking down Photo Credit Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

According to a clinical trial, only about 3 percent of people taking Effexor XR for depression experience decreased sexual desire. Diminished sex drive is not listed among the drug's side effects, though "abnormal orgasm/abnormal ejaculation" is listed. However most antidepressants carry the risk of sexual side effects, including low libido.


Diminished libido often accompanies depression, so it can be difficult to ascertain the drug's effect on sex drive. However, Effexor also treats anxiety disorders, which might not have any sexual symptoms. According to EmedTV, Effexor XR causes a decrease in sex drive in some people. They site clinical studies that documented a decreased sex drive in up to 9 percent of patients taking Effexor XR.


Side effects occur with all antidepressants—severe or mild. Effexor reports that only about 11 percent of people stop taking Effexor XR because of side effects. According to a "Consumer Reports" study, Wellbutrin (bupropion) and Nefazodone pose the lowest risk of sexual side effects among all antidepressants studied. Paxil poses the highest documented risk of diminished libido. Effexor, Zoloft, Celexa, Pristiq, Lexapro, and Remeron all ranked in the wide middle area of the study without notable incidence or lack of sexual side effects.

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Effexor Usage

Psychiatrists prescribe Effexor to treat mental illnesses including major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and panic disorder. People taking Effexor XR for social anxiety disorder were most likely to experience decreased libido. Those taking Effexor for depression had the least incidence of diminished sex drive.


Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, brought the concept of libido into widespread usage. He used the word to mean sexual drive or sexual instinct. Freud observed that the sexual drive is characterized by a gradual buildup in intensity to a climax, followed by a rapid decrease in excitement. Freud developed a complex theory on human libidinal development that has become widely accepted in the field of psychology. He conceptualized libidinal urges as encompassing more than just sex. Libido is commonly used today to mean sex drive. Therefore, a low libido is a diminished interest in and drive toward sexual gratification.

Managing Low Libido

If Effexor causes diminished libido, it is important to address the problem without resorting to treatment noncompliance. According to Drs. Robert Phillips Jr. and James Slaughter of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine, lowering the dosage of an antidepressant might improve sex drive functioning while maintaining adequate treatment of depression. In one study, 73 percent of patients whose antidepressant dosage was reduced by half reported improved sexual function while antidepressant effectiveness continued.

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