Is sex addiction real?
Some people may ask ‘is sex addiction real?’ It can seem like a convenient excuse for indiscretions; not helped by well-known people who may use it as a convenient excuse. However, for some, it is a real problem, backed up by certain studies which call the condition ‘hypersexual disorder’.
This disorder covers several symptoms; from spending an unhealthy amount of time thinking about sex, to looking for ways to act out sexual fantasies, which may become more extreme as time goes on. Like other addictions, it can take more and more to achieve a high (or satisfaction).
One main differences between someone who enjoys a lot of sex compared to someone who has Hypersexual Disorder, is whether this has a negative effect on other parts of the sufferer’s life, causing them to make cancellations, miss important plans or let family and friends down as a direct result of sexual pursuits; the kind of things which would normally be priorities in anyone else’s life.
So, while it may seem like a convenient excuse for certain celebrities, it can be a real problem and have a negative impact on the lives of those who have a sex addiction, spilling over to the people around them.
In simpler terms, an addiction is defined as a chronic psychological or physiological need for a habit-forming substance, behaviour or activity. So, if sex (seeking, having or thinking about it) takes up a large of your everyday live, that’s the habit-forming part of the equation, with the activity being sex, and the way it takes over your life could suggest a psychological or physiological need.
Signs of any kind of addiction can include changes in personality and irritability. If you find people commenting on personality changes, or even notice them in yourself and get irritable when seeking out sex, it can feel like a very real problem to the person with the sexual addiction.
Interesting topic: Sex Work, PTSD, Trauma & Addiction.
How to know if you have a sexual addiction
While sex is a part of most people’s life, if it’s taking over a larger part of your life than most people’s, you may have a problem. Some signs of being addicted to sex could include; the ability to control sexual urges, regularly cancelling other activities to have sex, having a larger than average number of sexual partners (either past or present) and an unhealthy amount of masturbation and/or viewing of pornographic material.
Some of these things may be considered normal on their own and in moderation, but if you begin to see a pattern in the ways you spend your time and how that spills over into your work and leisure time and your relationships with other people, causing further problems, it can be addiction.
What causes sex addiction?
There is a lot of speculation on what causes sex addiction. Look at it as an addiction, which according to some professional bodies is described as a change in the brain functions, altering the way a person thinks, which can affect their judgment skills, memory and the way they behave. This change has shown up in the brain scans of those displaying the symptoms of a sexual addiction.
Like other addictions, it can be thought of as a mental illness, which will often have several possibilities as its cause.
A chemical imbalance in the brain could be one cause, and some sufferers have responded positively to antidepressants, which help to balance this. However, this option doesn’t work for everyone, which suggests there are assorted causes for different people.
Although, it does share some properties with drug or alcohol addiction. The person seeks out sex (rather than drink or drugs) but the high/buzz comes from the euphoria of sex, but like drugs it either doesn’t last or fails to have the desired effect; leaving the person seeking more. In some cases, he or she may seek out more daring and unusual ways to achieve that ‘high’. Often, they will miss important dates and occasions with family and friends, and avoid even work to get what they believe they need.
Other causes of sex addiction
Other sex addiction causes can include coming from a broken family can be linked as a cause. In the pursuit of sex and gratification, they shun emotional connection and close ties with others; often losing friends and family as a result of constantly letting them down to satisfy their addiction instead.
If he/she has seen parents or other family members suffer a relationship breakdown, it can impact them later in life when they avoid getting close to anyone for fear of getting hurt, so seek out meaningless encounters instead.
Low self-esteem can also be a cause in some cases. The sufferer seeks out self-validation in another person, but through fear (and often expectation) of being rejected, they don’t allow themselves to form lasting relationships, but move on to the next person instead, quickly adding to the number of sexual partners and/or one night stands and often causing feeling of guilt and regret, adding to the thoughts of low self-worth.
What can you do if you think you have a sexual addiction?
While sexual addiction may not be recognised by everyone as a real condition, if you experience any of the issues mentioned in this article, you’re not alone and there is help.
There are therapists trained to deal with the problem and some who can deal with the individual aspects and underlying issues.
Some people prefer to see a specially trained sex therapist, while others prefer to see a mental health profession, or seek support from professional services such as counselling who have knowledge and experience of dealing a variety of addictions, or as mentioned earlier; antidepressants can work with some people.
Options can be limited sometimes though, because many professional bodies and insurance companies still don’t recognise sexual addiction as a condition.