Sexual dysfunctions commonly co-occur with various depressive and anxiety disorders. An emerging framework for understanding the classification of mental disorders suggests that such comorbidity is a manifestation of underlying dimensions of psychopathology (or “spectra”). In this review, we synthesize the evidence that sexual dysfunctions should be included in the empirical taxonomy of psychopathology as part of the internalizing spectrum, which accounts for comorbidity among the depressive and anxiety disorders. The review has four parts. Part 1 summarizes the empirical basis and utility of the empirical taxonomy of psychopathology. Part 2 reviews the prima facie evidence for the hypothesis that sexual dysfunctions are part of the internalizing spectrum (i.e., high rates of comorbidity; shared cognitive, affective, and temperament characteristics; common neural substrates and biomarkers; shared course and treatment response; and the lack of causal relationships between them). Part 3 critically analyzes and integrates the results of the eight studies that have addressed this hypothesis. Finally, Part 4 examines the implications of reconceptualizing sexual dysfunctions as part of the internalizing spectrum, and explores avenues for future research.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported in part by a National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) training grant supporting the work of Miriam Forbes (T320A037183). NIDA had no further role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in writing; nor in the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.
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