top of page

I’m Daryl.
In the early 2000s, I was prescribed anti-depressants and anti-psychotics as a 10-year-old; they were meant to help with the symptoms of my OCD and Tourette’s Sydrome.

They never stopped my tics, or the repetitive behaviour that’s part of my OCD, but not taking them was never considered.
I never imagined the treatments I had as a child would have the effect it did though – essentially making part of my body numb and cease to work.

After all, I was too young to know what ‘impotence’ was.

I hadn’t heard of the word ‘drugs’ either, but I was very familiar with medications – I had to take them every day.
It wasn’t until I was 21 that my genitals began to feel numb, like a piece of meat hanging between my legs.

My penis stopped rising and tingling in the presence of attractive women, and my girlfriend at the time pointed out that my erections weren’t working properly.

I gradually began to feel like I had lost a significant part of myself; any genuine enthusiasm had gone, like I was no more than a shell.

My girlfriend didn’t understand and became angry, and it wasn’t long before we broke up.

Reluctantly, I accepted that this was real; I went to the doctors and, with their advice, stopped taking the drugs.

Shortly after, there was a slightly overwhelming counter-surge of uncontrollable arousal, ejaculation and orgasm spells called Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD), but after that subsided, I found myself with even less sexual arousal response than before.

I knew that the impotence was being caused by the drugs and began doing the humiliating rounds of erectile dysfunction diagnostic clinics.

I was always the only man without grey hair and a walking stick.

I remember one harrowing occasion, when I was in a clinic being injected in the penis with Viagra, I wondered what the other young people my age were doing and how they were enjoying their freedom.

I became distant from other people, and felt exposed when the opposite sex showed interest.

One rare time I went to a party, a girl was staring at my genitals seductively and, for what seemed like an eternity, absolutely nothing happened.

Another friend used to put her feet teasingly on my genitals. I think she guessed somehow, and we stopped being affectionate soon after.

I’d feel particularly terrible around my male peers with whom I played football.

I’d have no desire to go on holiday, and even now I tend not to hug people, and this has probably gotten worse over the seven years I’ve lived with this condition.

It is an odd torture to go through at such a young age.

Eventually, I was referred to a uro-neurology team at a central London hospital and the doctor there told me: ‘You would be surprised, I actually get a lot of people that are referred to me with this’.

He confirmed that I had Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD), and said that I would not necessarily go back to normal as there is no cure.

I am now ashamed that my response to hearing this news was to storm out of this doctor’s office in anger. I blamed the drug companies, feeling that I hadn’t been sufficiently protected.

I have spent a lot of my life wishing I could die, especially in my early 20s.

But my desire to live my adult life free from impotence was enough for me to venture through the unknowns of antidepressant withdrawal and persevere through months of horrible symptoms, such as full-body electric shock sensations, sometimes referred to as ‘brain zaps’

I have been living in shame and silence, but somewhere deep inside I know that I cannot be alone.
I have done my own research on long-term PSSD and was shocked to see that there are thousands of others reporting it on the Internet.

My aim now is to raise awareness about this condition, because people are just not being given enough information when they are advised to take medications for life.

It is an absolute outrage that drug leaflets do not mention this possible outcome in detail.

Even now, for the drugs I was prescribed, while sexual dysfunction is mentioned as a symptom during treatment, no mention is made of permanent harm.

The advice given to my mum then, and to other vulnerable and desperate people suffering with mental illness, is that, ‘there is nothing to lose – if there are any side effects, they will be completely resolved as soon as you stop taking the drugs’.
But we now know that is not always the case.

Mind, a prominent UK mental health charity, actually states, ‘Certain sexual problems are a potential negative side effect of all SSRI and SNRI antidepressants… Sometimes these side effects persist after you’ve come off the drug, and might continue indefinitely.’

My mum has since said that if she had been given more information about PSSD when I was a child, she would not have agreed to me taking the pills.

Of course, I live in hope that one day there might be a cure for my symptoms, and I can feel like a human being again – I hope a cure is found for everyone living with this condition.

People with mental health issues deserve more than this.

Click here to read more accounts of stolen lives.

Daryl has permanent sexual dysfunction as a result of antidepressants and antipsychotics

bottom of page