Today's NYTimes article, "Has the Romance Gone? Was it the Drug?" highlights a major problem with today's psychopharmaceuticals, side effects. "Up to 70 percent of patients on antidepressants report sexual side effects," the article reports. But the problem does not end there.
"We know that there are real sexual problems associated with serotonin-enhancing medications," said Dr. Helen Fisher, author of "Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love". "But when you cripple a person's sexual desire and arousal, you're also jeopardizing their ability to fall in love and to stay in love."
Dr. Fisher and a colleague, Dr. Anderson J. Thomson Jr., have studied the brains of people in love and pored over research from the last 25 years on the neurological basis of romance.
Three brain systems, all interrelated, the researchers say, control lust, attraction and attachment. Each runs on a different set of chemicals. Lust is fueled by androgens and estrogens. Attachment is controlled by oxytocin and vasopressin. And attraction, they say, is driven by high levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, as well as low levels of serotonin. As a result, they say, increasing levels of serotonin with antidepressants can cripple the sex drive but also set off an imbalance among the three systems."
So how might we develop an anti-depressant that increases lust? Or is that even possible?