Understanding Sex Addiction

Sex addiction wrecks havoc in every aspect of life.

I offer a caveat here.

This post is a very general overview of an otherwise complex topic.

In future posts, I will be writing in greater detail about many of the issues presented here.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V (DSM 5) doesn't list sex addiction as a diagnosable state at this point, but new neuroscience research suggests otherwise. Sex addiction is a behavioral or "process addiction." Process addictions are highly problematic, repetitive behavioral patterns involving the relentless pursuit of compulsive, pleasurable activities such as gambling, spending, eating...even ostensibly "healthy" activities such as sex, exercise or working. All addictions involve the dopamine neural response in the reward center of the brain. Neuroscience has allowed us to compare and contrast the brain scans of cocaine addicts and sex addicts. They are remarkably similar in neural imaging scans.

In other words, drug addiction is a dependency on mood altering substances. Sex addiction is a dependency on mood altering experiences.

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Is Porn Addiction the Same as Sex Addiction?

Sex addiction and porn addiction aren't exactly the same illness. Addiction to pornography is regarded as a form of sex addiction and will manifest itself differently than other forms of sex addiction. Like “sex addiction,” “porn addiction” isn't an official diagnosis in the DSM 5 yet either. Nevertheless, an addiction to pornography often leads to negative consequences and serious misery in many facets of life.

Which Are the Various Kinds of Sexual Addiction?

Sex Addiction may come in a variety of behavioral subtypes, including dependency on:

  1. Porn
  2. Prostitution.
  3. Excessive masturbation to the point of injury.
  4. Serial Affairs
  5. Sadistic or masochistic conduct.
  6. Display/Voyeurism.
  7. Other sexual interests or ritualized sexual behaviors that are socially inappropriate, illegal or excessive.

Do you know the Signs, Symptoms, and Effects of a Sexual Addiction?

There are behavioral signs that can indicate whether someone is hooked on sex. These are apt to be physical or psychological. Also, it’s important to be aware of the debilitating aftereffects of sexual addiction. The sex-addicted brain has trained the dopamine response to gravitate toward sexual acting out as a way of self-medicating and coping with stress, or emotional pain.

Psychological Symptoms of Sex Dependence

You probably lack healthy boundaries if you suffer from a sex addiction. Sex addicts become readily involved with individuals sexually, regardless of how well they know or understand them. They might remain in relationships that aren’t healthy because most sex addicts fear abandonment, or tend to jump from relationship to relationship. When alone, they may feel incomplete or empty. They may additionally sexualize feelings like loneliness, guilt or concern.

Physical Outward Indications of Sex Dependence
Although pornography or sex addiction can create many physical negative effects, few physical outward indications of this illness exist. On the other hand, a sense of paralysis and compulsivity can leave the sex addict feeling immobilized due to psychological or sexual compulsions.

Aftereffects of Sex Dependence
The aftereffects of a sex addiction may be serious.

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  1. Sex addicts typically experience a decrease in family involvement, societal, and personal relationships.
  2. They also sometimes spotted at work because of reduced productivity and concentration on their job, or the messy disclosure of workplace affairs and inappropriate behavior.
  3. Physical effects, such as chronic sexual dysfunction, or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are also windows into a disclosure of a sex addiction.

Sex addiction can have profound psychological effects, like feelings of inadequacy, shame, and mental misery. It may lead to, or originate from, comorbid psychological disorders like:

  1. Stress.
  2. Melancholy.
  3. Substance abuse.
  4. Issues associated with emotion dysregulation and impulse control.
  5. Obsessive-Compulsive symptoms.
  6. It's vital that your therapy addresses all of the co-occurring issues such as social isolation, depression, and social anxiety.

Am I Addicted to Sex?

It's best to talk to a healthcare professional for an assessment of your sex dependence. But it would be a good start to reflect on your life choices. Take a look in the mirror:

  1. Do you feel helpless over the manner in which you are a sexual being?
  2. Are your sexual behaviors making your life unmanageable?
  3. Do you feel humiliation, or shame, as well as self-loathing because of your sexual choices?
  4. Do you swear to yourself that " this will be the last time..." but it never is?
  5. Have you become so preoccupied with thinking about sex that it has become an elaborate ritual?

It may be time to find sex dependency treatment if you’re showing some of those symptoms.

Get Help For Sex Dependence
It is necessary to know that although porn and sex addiction aren't “officially” diagnosable, neuroscience tells us that these conditions exist, and frequently present with elevated rates of misery, guilt, mental chaos and profoundly negative consequences.

What Are The Causes Of Sex Addiction?
Sexual addiction, like porn addiction, can grow due to variables that encompass all areas of a person’s life. These comprise:

Biological:
You might possess a genetic predisposition to impulsivity, mental dysregulation, or sense-seeking behavior. It's also possible to possess a predisposition to other characteristics that can aggravate a tendency toward sexual addiction, such as depression or stress.

Hormones:

As one might expect, higher rates of sex hormones like estrogen or testosterone can profoundly influence libido. If you are inclined towards behavior that is impulsive, and also evidence elevated rates of sex- hormones, you probably will be more prone to take part in excessive sexual activities. Some sex-addicted clients disclose taking Dopa-testosterone and other libido enhancing substances for no apparent medical reason. They are literally fueling their sex addiction with high-octane sex hormone.

Emotional:

Early-life environmental factors, including adverse events like childhood sexual abuse, or vulnerability to content that is sexual, can lead to several of the inherent features that drive behavior that eventually becomes hypersexual.

Mental Health:

Depression, personality disorders, poor impulse control, and stress may be concurrent problems that one fights with alongside sex addiction. Mental illness can often be an aggravating factor. For example, it is estimated that just under 40% of people who are dealing with Bipolar Disorder show a tendency toward states that are sexually manic, and are more prone to take part in high-risk or excessive sexual activity that is characteristic of sex addiction.

Societal:

Rejection: in societal groups and relationships may lead to often unhealthy means to pursue sexual gratification.

Social isolation: Social isolation can raise the likelihood of seeking improper means of pursuing sexual gratification. In addition, it results in a bunch of other issues, such as anxiety and depression.
Societal learning: The act of observing others execute a behavior, or “modeling,” is one way to understand something new–specially when you “enjoy “ or ” identify” with that individual. Having a buddy, or several pals, who take part in pornography screening or excessive sexual activities can influence your habitual sexual choices you in an extremely subtle, yet powerful way.

Sex addiction involves a loss of control over addictive sexual behavior... even as the addict experiences increasing negative and costly life consequences.

Can we help?

Couples Therapy Inc.

About the Author Daniel Dashnaw

Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He currently sees couples at Couples Therapy Inc. using EFT, Gottman Method, and the Developmental Model.

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