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As with dependency on various substances, sexual addiction is also a reality for some people. It is a condition in which a person becomes excessively consumed with thoughts and actions related to sexual behaviour.
A sex addict not only craves a lot of sex; s/he generally has an underlying problem like depression, anxiety, stress or shame, which gets manifested in form of sexual behaviours that are mostly risky for normal people.
What causes sexual addiction?
Sexual addiction generally arises from more than one factors, which could be psychological, biological or social.
Psychological factors – People who suffer from anxiety, depression or obsessive-compulsive disorders are more prone to develop a sex addiction, as are those with a learning disability. Further, a previous or existing addiction of another kind increases the probability of sexual addiction too since the basic manifestation of dependency already exists.
Biological factors – It is believed that certain areas of the brain and some chemicals in the brain undergo particular changes that generate the needy feeling for sex and related behaviours.
Social factors – Persons with sexual addiction commonly face social isolation on account of certain personality traits like issues maintaining stable relationships, insecurity, emotional immaturity, impulsiveness, etc. Those who were sexually abused at some point in their lives are also at a higher risk of developing sexual addiction.
How can sexual addiction be identified?
A sexual addict displays a set of negative sexual behaviours that may be identified as:
- An increased need and intensity of sexual behaviour to reach satisfaction levels.
- Psychological and physical withdrawal feeling when unable to engage in the desired behaviour.
- Intensive planning around a sexual behaviour.
- Inability to decrease or cease the particular behaviour.
Diagnosis of sex addiction requires gathering information on the person’s medical records including any mental or social ailments. Doctors look to affirm if the person has a mental health condition that is causing the heightened sexual behaviour. These conditions could be a tumour, seizure, Huntington’s disease, brain injuries or dementia.
How is sex addiction treated?
The desires and urges that result from sex addiction have been shown to improve with the administration of seroetoninergic (SSRI) drugs that are used in cases of anxiety and depression, or mood stabilizer drugs used against bipolar disorders.
Treatment is important for preventing complications that have serious health consequences like contraction of sexually transmitted infections like hepatitis B or C, HIV, etc. Sexual addiction also affects work performance and in serious cases leads to legal trouble in form of sexual harassment, rape, etc.
Is sex addiction preventable?
The underlying issues that lead to sex addiction are mental, emotional or social factors that can be dealt with at the right time before they lead to a lowered self-image.
Further, monitoring Internet addiction in young children that can potentially lead to sexual behaviours and addressing emotional problems like anxiety and depression can reduce the risk of developing sexual addiction.