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Men's Health: Viagra helps treat depression, too

Impotence drug improves quality of life while also treating erection problems

A Canadian study shows that the impotence drug Viagra also improves symptoms of minor depression in men taking it for both conditions.

Dr. Sidney Kennedy, psychiatrist-in-chief at the University Health Network in Toronto, says many men with erection problems have symptoms of depression and decreased quality of life, but most studies evaluating the impact of impotence treatment on depression have only looked at men with major depression.

In contrast, Kennedy and his team studied 184 men who had had erection problems for about four years and also met the criteria for minor, but not major, depression.

The researchers randomly assigned the men to undergo six weeks of treatment with Viagra (also known as sildenafil) or inactive placebo pills.

By six weeks, the 98 men who received sildenafil had a 47 per cent reduction in their depression scores, indicating a change from mild to minimal depression.

In comparison, men taking placebos had only a 26 per cent decrease in their scores, which remained in the range of mild depression.

As expected, sildenafil significantly improved the men’s sexual function. By six weeks, the proportion of successful intercourse attempts was 77 per cent for the sildenafil group versus 40 per cent for placebo, and 63 per cent of patients on sildenafil had no erection problems, compared with 53 per cent for placebo.

Quality of life was also significantly improved in men receiving sildenafil.

Side-effects were reported by 31 per cent of the placebo group and 43 per cent of the sildenafil group, while serious adverse events were seen in two per cent of both groups.