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