Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Ali, Saba R

First Committee Member

Altmaier, Elizabeth M

Second Committee Member

Bahrick, Audrey

Third Committee Member

Liu, William M

Fourth Committee Member

Paik, Anthony

Fifth Committee Member

Westefeld, John S


This dissertation details a qualitative study that examined nine individuals living with sexual side effects of SSRIs that had persisted after the discontinuation of pharmacological treatment (referred to as post-SSRI sexual dysfunction or PSSD).

The investigation sought to answer the following research questions:

(1) How do individuals with persistent sexual side effects make sense of and meaning from their experience?;

(2) How have these individuals' sense of self or identity changed over the course of their sexual difficulties?; and

(3) What role could a counseling psychologist have had in helping the individual with his or her situation?

Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis methodology, eight themes emerged from the data including:

(1) difficult emotional experiences;

(2) varied coping strategies;

(3) negative impact on romantic relationships;

(4) changed identity;

(5) changed attitude toward sex;

(6) problems with medical providers;

(7) mixed feelings about SSRIs; and

(8) desire for collaborative healthcare.

A review of relevant literature, a detailed explanation of the research methodology, a description of the results incorporating participant narratives, and a discussion of the results highlighting implications for counseling psychologists and limitations of the study are included in this dissertation.


viii, 153 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 142-153).


Copyright 2013 Rebecca Stinson