When sex takes over someone’s entire life and they feel helpless to stop it even though they’d like to, they may have hypersexual disorder, the scientific term for being addicted to sex.
And though it may seem a little difficult to take a sex addiction seriously, the consequences can be just that – non–stop thoughts about sex can lead to jobs lost, ruined relationships, and STDs.
Out of control
But where do psychiatrists draw the line between someone who just likes sex a lot and someone who’s addicted to it? A sex addict will probably think of little else – for at least six months, they’ll have been spending most of their time fantasising about having sex, planning to have sex, and having sex.
Sex addicts are also likely to jump into bed as a way to make themselves feel better, for example if they’re depressed, bored, or stressed out. Their actions could do emotional or physical damage, either to themselves or others. Importantly, their sex–related thoughts and behaviours aren’t caused by something else, like another disorder or taking drugs.
Naturally, all of this affects their daily life, and for someone to be considered a sex addict, they need to feel they have a problem that’s beyond their control, and they need to want to get help. So if you’re OK with how often you think about sex, worry not, you’re no sex addict.
What’s more, if your worries about sex are because you feel guilty based on religious beliefs or cultural values, that’s a different matter. You also don’t fit the sex addict profile.
The signs of sex addiction were tested in a recent US study in which scientists hoped to decide if it really is a psychological disorder. They interviewed 207 patients who’d visited a mental health clinic for help with out–of–control sexual behaviour, drug abuse, or another psychological disorder like depression.
Almost 90 percent of the people looking for help for their sexual behaviour showed the signs and symptoms researchers use to decide if someone is a sex addict or not. This means that these things are a pretty good clues that someone has a problem. And though sex addiction isn’t officially classified as a disorder, the results of this study will be used to help decide if it should be.