Normally, no one really recommends trying to diagnose yourself. However, with the plethora of information accessible with a touch of screen, it’s difficult to avoid it. People joke about looking up symptoms on the internet because it swings from one extreme to the other. If you have a rash, it could be eczema or it could be cancer. The recommendation is usually to limit going down the internet rabbit hole and avoid eliciting anxiety over what your issues could be. However, looking up symptoms can give you an idea of whether or not you might need to seek treatment. It can also normalize some concerns you may have. It can be the first step of acknowledging a problem and moving forward to seeking help.
Hypersexual Disorder is more than just having a high sex drive. It is consistent, intense, and even intrusive obsessions over sexual fantasies and urges. It looks very similar to other addictive behaviors and can inhibit daily life. The difference between this kind of disorder and having a high sex drive is that people with Hypersexual Disorder will fulfill most of the criteria below for a period of at least 6 months, will be able to function less effectively, and often experience distress over impaired functioning along with potential attempts to stop the behavior. If you feel like you’re experiencing distress or problems related to sex that sound similar to what has been described so far, these symptoms of Hypersexual Disorder can provide you some insight:
Obsessive and intrusive thoughts that inhibit daily living. These are consistent thoughts around sex. They become almost all-consuming to where those are the dominant thoughts in your mind. They become so consuming that they can lead to distractions from important and necessary tasks, prevent closeness in relationships, and even pull you away from activities you normally would enjoy.
Deviant sexual behavior. This is behavior that would normally go against your code, ethics, or morals. It might include having sex in a public place or soliciting a prostitute. It involves behavior you thought you would never engage in based off your moral code.
Excessive masturbation or uses of sex services. These are people who feel the need to masturbate multiple times a day. They also might use services like web chats, phone sex, or pornography and they likely will use those services to masturbate.
Having affairs or obsessing over someone you feel you can’t have sex with. Having frequent affairs with someone who isn’t your partner can be a sign of a potential addiction. Even if you haven’t engaged in an affair with someone else, you might find yourself constantly obsessing and fantasizing over someone you feel you can’t sleep with. These intrusive thoughts can also become consuming in a way that negatively affects daily living.
Spending excessive amounts of time planning sexual encounters or activities. This isn’t necessarily planning romantic sexual encounters or fantasies with your partner. While that can become excessive, this involves planning and scheduling sexual activities whether it’s having sex with someone, finding time to masturbate, and even figuring out when to watch porn.
While this is not necessarily an exhaustive list, it can be a starting point to ask yourself if you feel you have a problem. It can help create awareness that can lead you towards your next steps. If you feel you may have a problem, reach out to a professional and allow them to provide a diagnosis and help you with treatment. Seeking help will allow you to deal with your struggles and live your life well.
Michelle Overman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist working as a counselor for students, faculty, and staff at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. She also has a special interest in working with athletes and has been bridging the gap between athletics and mental health at ACU. She is in the process of becoming a Certified Mental Performance Consultant to further her expertise in sports psychology. Prior to her move to Abilene, Michelle ran her own private practice in Austin, Texas where she worked with a diverse population, including couples and families. Michelle earned a Master’s in Marriage & Family Therapy and has been working in the field for 6 years.