What are the major sex addiction signs and symptoms? There are several, although they are not all necessarily severe. Some can be learned behaviour or habits, whilst others are indicative of a more serious problem. We’ll discuss a few of the more common sex addiction signs and symptoms here.
Signs and Symptoms
Causative factors of sex addiction can refer to any number of behaviours that are performed out of control and in excess and significantly affect one’s lifestyle in a negative manner. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V, Fifth Edition (DSM-IV) doesn’t list sex addiction as a diagnosable mental disorder yet, but there is clear evidence that there is a definite prevalence of harmful sexual behaviour that bears a resemblance to drug addiction. If there are multiple sex addiction symptoms, it is important to consider whether these are indicative of a multi-policies disorder, where multiple behaviours are occurring in conjunction with one another. Also, consider if there are other underlying factors.
Agonistic sex behaviour is the most obvious sex addiction sign and symptom, as it is an obsessive desire for sex. Compulsive sexual behaviour can be related to any number of underlying conditions such as anxiety or depression, guilt complex, power/ sexuality disparity issues, cultural expectations or even trauma. Compulsions are often used as a means of control or harassment. Common signs include exhibitionism (e.g. watching pornography), fantasy sex, voyeurism, infidelity, partner selection or seduction, and early ejaculation.
Treatment options for sex addiction vary between professionals, but the most commonly prescribed are counselling and therapy. Whilst all these can effectively treat many of the symptoms, co-occurring mental health issues may make sex addiction treatment more difficult or impossible. This can include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress. In some cases, co-occurring disorders may also complicate treatment options, as certain therapies have been known to exacerbate previously co-occurring behaviours.
There are some treatments available for sexual addictions, including anti-androgenic medications, cognitive behavioural therapy and replacement of libido with anti-androgenic medications (like androstenone and drop). All these are aimed at restoring normal sex drive, removing the physiological dependency on sex, curbing harmful secondary sex-drive effects, treating impotence and ejaculatory control, and addressing possible side effects of sexual addictions. Treatment can take a long time as the most crucial aspect of any treatment plan is an assessment of a person’s underlying causes. Unfortunately, even after successful treatment, the most severe sexual addictions often tend to re-occur, especially when the patient has experienced trauma or other negative psychological factors. Withdrawal can often be a factor in sexual addiction relapse.
Symptoms of porn addiction are very similar to those displayed by people with sex addiction, but there is often a greater chance of severity and more pronounced psychological symptoms in sex addicts than in porn addicts. However, there are also commonalities between sex addicts and porn addicts. Both groups can exhibit signs of emotional distance, feelings of guilt, reliance on sex, avoidance of social situations where the presence of others might suggest guilt or humiliation, feelings of shame or violation, and a feeling of guilt regarding their actions. The main difference between sex addiction and porn addiction, however, is that sex addicts often demonstrate no real emotional desire for sex with others until they experience an uncontrollable need for it. For this reason, it is more likely to be associated with emotional problems such as anxiety or depression.
The most common negative side effect that sex addiction patients may suffer from is social isolation. Social alienation is perhaps sex addiction’s gravest taboo. However, a person suffering from sex addiction who has experienced severe social isolation may also be at risk for depression or other mood disorders. This happens because a person with depression will be more susceptible to consider his or her sexual behaviour as normal or even desirable. When depression is present along with an inability to have a sex life, social isolation becomes even more pronounced and may lead to feelings of hopelessness.
In addition to the emotional problems of sex, addicts may also suffer from physical withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are more intense than those felt during drug withdrawals and can range from mild discomfort to painful illness. Unfortunately, sex addictions can be difficult to treat even with medication. If your partner was diagnosed with sex addiction, the best thing you can do is offer support so that he or she can deal with the pain and side effects of addiction without feeling alone.