Major depression is frequently associated with sexual dysfunctions. Most antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), induce additional sexual side effects and, although effective antidepressants, deteriorate sexual symptoms, which are the main reason that patients stop antidepressant treatment. Many strategies have been used to circumvent the additional sexual side effects, but results are rather disappointing. Recently, new antidepressants have been introduced, vilazodone and vortioxetine, which seem to lack sexual side effects in the early registration trials. Much research with large numbers of depressed patients and adequate methodological tools still has to confirm in daily use the absence of sexual side effects of new antidepressants. Animal models that in an early phase of drug development may predict putative sexual side effects of new antidepressants are extremely useful and could speed up development of new antidepressants. A rat model of sexual behavior is described that has a very high predictive validity for sexual side effects in man. Several characteristics of present antidepressants with regard to sexual dysfunctions are also present in the rat model and establish its validity. The animal model can also be used in the search for new psychotropics without sexual side effects or for drugs with sexual stimulating activity.
Part of the book: Sexual Dysfunction