Sex addiction: Symptoms & Treatment
There is much discourse among psychiatrists, sexologists and mental health professionals about the nature of sexual addiction. Some research shows that hypersexuality and sex addiction can have similar DNA transcription and genetic mechanisms that are seen in drug addiction. Leaving aside the complex diagnostic history surrounding the disorder, there might be many questions regarding sex addiction such as; what are the symptoms of sexual addiction? And Is there any rehabilitation or treatment for it? In this blog post, we cover some important symptoms pointing towards sex addiction and the various options available for treating it:
Sexual addiction can manifest in various forms, including a compulsive need to indulge in sexual acts, masturbation, exhibitionism or watching pornographic films and media. While having a healthy amount of sexual thoughts, intercourse or masturbation is normal and even recommended in adult and adolescent humans, any uncontrollable urge or constant need to indulge can amount to sexual addiction. What constitutes abnormal sexual behaviour?
1. Obsessive sexual thoughts
If you are unable to avoid sexual thoughts even in inappropriate situations or have issues with controlling sexual thoughts and fantasies on demand, it may constitute “obsessive sexual thoughts”.
2. Feeling of shame
While fixating on sexual thoughts and activities, one may have negative feelings towards themselves. There can be intense feelings of shame, regret or anxiety regarding their thoughts and behaviours. People with sexual addiction can show symptoms of other mental health disorders like depression, social anxiety and suicidal ideation.
3. Inability to do other activities
Since there is a compulsive need to fixate on sexual thoughts and activities, there is a possibility of falling behind on other societal, academic and work-related obligations. They may find it difficult to maintain relationships with friends and families and indulge in other hobbies as they end up prioritizing hypersexual behaviours over other activities.
4. Cheating on partners
People with sex addiction can also be responsible for cheating on their partners or breaking up other happy relationships due to their incessant need to have intercourse with new partners. This is detrimental from a public health perspective as well, since they often tend to indulge in risky behaviours like exhibitionism, soliciting sex workers and unintentionally spreading Sexually Transmitted diseases.
5. Excessive masturbation
Some people may have an uncontrollable urge to feel sexual pleasure and indulge in excessive masturbation to scratch the itch. They may even masturbate to the extent of having pain or physical discomfort.
Treatment for sex addiction is similar to treating any other type of addiction since it changes the chemical balances in our brain which in turn changes the way we think, behave and act. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common psychological therapy system that helps an individual to face and overcome these kinds of uncontrollable and unwanted sexual urges. Sometimes, a psychiatrist can prescribe medication that is used to treat anxiety and depression, which can help reduce adjacent mental health disorders like Sex addiction. There are also various other forms of one-on-one therapy and support groups that are available for those seeking help and counselling. With any type of addiction, the first step is acceptance of your condition and seeking the help you deserve. If you or someone you know exhibits signs and symptoms of sex addiction, do reach out to the various helpline numbers available in India!