Lauri Ticas, 37, had been married only a year when the depression that had plagued her on and off most of her life returned. Her doctor put her back on antidepressants, Zoloft this time, and her once passionate relationship with her new husband, Julio, went cold. And not just the sex—when she did orgasm, the so-so sensation was hardly worth the effort—the bond they shared changed, too. It felt, she says, as if a wall had been erected between them. Even during her favorite time together—holding each other and talking for a few minutes in bed each night before turning out the lights—she felt like she was just going through the motions.
"It's like when you're sick and your taste buds are dull," says Ticas. "You can taste the food. You've had that same food before, and you know how great it tastes, but this time, it's just bland. That's kind of how it is for me on antidepressants." But aren't antidepressants supposed to be "happy pills"—rather than a barrier to happily ever after?
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In truth, research has already established that certain drugs can smother a formerly healthy sex drive, and now anthropologist Helen Fisher, PhD, a Rutgers University professor and author of the bestseller, Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, has a bold new hypothesis: Ironically, she believes "our infatuation" with antidepressants could actually inhibit our ability to fall in love in the first place—and stay in love in the long run. "I call it the numbing of America," says Fisher.
It's true: Americans are hooked on antidepressants, the most prescribed drug in the United States last year, totaling up to $13.5 billion in sales for the drug companies, according to IMS Health, a health-care information company in Norwalk, Conn. Ten percent of women and four percent of men in America use them to boost their moods and relieve anxiety. But do these benefits come at a romantic cost?
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