Archive for the ‘Symptoms of Hypersexual Disorder’ Category.

Symptoms of Hypersexual Disorder

Hypersexual disorder goes by many names. Sex addiction, nymphomania, hypersexuality and compulsive sexual behavior are different terms to describe the same set of symptoms. Any natural drive can become a compulsion or obsession when taken to extremes. For sufferers of the condition, the effects can be devastating to relationships, costing some people their marriages, jobs and families.
While doctors are unsure of the underlying causes of most cases of hypersexual disorder, they have noted cases in which the condition has a physiological basis such as a brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease or medications. In any case of hypersexuality, it is important to eliminate the possibility of a physiological cause first before treating any psychological causes.
A high sex drive is distinct from hypersexual disorder. Hypersexuality is marked by excess, intrusive thinking and risk-taking behavior, none of which are characteristic of someone who has a large sexual appetite. People with sex addiction may not even experience much pleasure in the sex, indulging in sexual thoughts and actions to assuage negative sensations rather than to experience pleasurable ones.
The symptoms of hypersexual disorder become clinically significant when they have occurred for more than six months and cause the individual distress. If a person exhibits four of the following five criteria for half a year or longer and experiences distress about intrusive thoughts and actions, then hypersexual disorder is a possible diagnosis.
• Sexual fantasies, urges and plans occupy an excessive amount of the person’s time. People with hypersexual disorder may complain that it is difficult to concentrate on anything beyond the fantasies and sexual thoughts.
• Thoughts of sex and sex acts take place in direct response to negative stimuli. People with hypersexual disorder turn to sex to alleviate boredom, depression or excitability rather than to achieve closeness with a partner or enjoy the act itself. Fantasies and sexual activity supplant other ways of coping with stress. Sex and sexual thoughts become a retreat from other life events that produce anxiety.
• The person’s repeated attempts to keep sexual fantasies and behavior under control have failed. These thoughts and actions can become intrusive.
• Sexual behavior occurs in inappropriate ways or with inappropriate partners. In extreme cases, these behaviors can cause the individual to become a danger to others.
• People with hypersexual disorder no longer heed potential risks to themselves or to others in their pursuit of a sexual high. High-risk sexual practices may escalate with some individuals.
These symptoms may involve multiple physically present partners, cybersex, telephone sex, compulsive masturbation or a combination of these behaviors. The distinguishing characteristic of the disorder is the intrusiveness of sexual thoughts and actions; the sufferer may not want to engage in the behavior but feels compelled to do it.
Once a doctor has ruled out a physiological cause for the behavior, work can begin on other potential causes. Hypersexuality may occur in people with bipolar disorder during a manic period. It can also indicate an underlying psychological need for greater intimacy and non-sexual contact with others. Only a qualified professional can provide a diagnosis or initiate treatment.