Hypersexuality and Bipolar Disorder: Are They Related?
When experiencing a bipolar episode, specifically a manic one, there’s a large variety of symptoms one can experience. Paranoia, lack of sleep, and racing thoughts are all symptoms that can heavily impact your life. Another symptom that occurs for some that can put their health at risk is hypersexuality.
What Is Hypersexuality?
Hypersexuality, or sexual addiction, occurs when someone is frequently having impulsive, and often reckless, sexual encounters, fantasies or urges. Often times it’s extremely difficult to fight these urges. Unfortunately, as of now, there is no diagnosis within the DSM-5 of hypersexuality as its own disorder.
According to Mayo Clinic, “it may be diagnosed as a subcategory of another mental health condition, such as an impulse control disorder or a behavioral addiction.”
This behavior can negatively impact multiple facets of one’s life including relationships, work, finances, and health. One of the main criteria for identifying an individual with hypersexuality is some of the risky sexual behaviors they take part in. As of right now, many studying hypersexuality believes that chemical imbalances can play a role in triggering hypersexual behavior.
Bipolar Disorder and Hypersexuality
For many with bipolar disorder, there is a connection between manic episodes and hypersexuality. Not only can this occur during a full-fledged episode, but it can also occur before, or at the onset of a manic episode. Manic episodes often exacerbate the symptoms of hypersexuality due to the increased impulsivity and risk-taking that often becomes more prevalent during them.
Hypersexuality on its own can result in unsafe sex practices, but when combined with the symptoms of a manic episode it can be significantly worse. Due to manic episodes impacting one’s rationality, one may be more likely to practice unprotected sex with many partners over a short period of time.
Having unprotected sex can significantly increase the chances of contracting an STI. Since thinking rationally is difficult during a manic episode, you’re also much less likely to get tested for STIs after sexual encounters.
The longer one goes without professional treatment for their hypersexual tendencies, the more likely they are to contract an STI. This puts not only one’s own health at risk but also the health of any and all potential sexual partners.
Can Hypersexuality be Controlled?
Since hypersexuality is rooted in impulsivity and urges, it can be extremely difficult to control. In many ways, hypersexuality is an addiction and should be treated as such. This is why some type of professional intervention is needed.
It should be treated just like other types of addiction. A mental health professional will be able to not only help with the sexual addiction but also any other underlying illnesses that may be contributing to it.
Treatment for Bipolar Disorder and Hypersexuality
Similar to the symptoms of bipolar disorder, fighting the symptoms of hypersexuality without professional intervention can be extremely difficult and is not recommended. Depending on your location, there are various forms of treatment that are available for those experiencing a manic episode with hypersexuality.
The potential treatment options include medication, support groups, and psychotherapy. When searching for treatment options, it’s important that you search for a mental health professional that can assist you with both the symptoms of hypersexuality and bipolar disorder.
According to Mayo Clinic, psychotherapy can occur on an individual basis with a mental health professional, or even amongst a group of people like a family. The three types of common psychotherapy that may be used to treat symptoms of hypersexuality. These include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which may help you identify unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviors and replace them with more adaptive ways of coping. You may learn strategies to make these behaviors less private and interfere with being able to access sexual content so easily.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy, which is a type of CBT that emphasizes acceptance of thoughts and urges and a commitment to strategies to choose actions that are more consistent with important values.
- Psychodynamic psychotherapy, which is a therapy that focuses on increasing your awareness of unconscious thoughts and behaviors, developing new insights into your motivations, and resolving conflicts.