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Bipolar Disorders and Sex Addiction: Could You Have a Problem?

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Your interest in sex seems to have taken a turn towards a compulsion, and is on the brink of causing risks to your relationships. Is this constant fixation on sex a sign of something more serious? Understand the connection between hypersexuality and bipolar disorder.

You’re constantly seeking sexual gratification – logging in hours on online porn sites, always thinking about your next sexual encounter, and perhaps even engaging in some sexual behaviour others would find excessive or extreme. While it’s common to crave sexual contact or fantasise about sex, if these thoughts or acts are significantly disrupting your daily life, then this may be crossing the line into sex addiction, also known as hypersexuality.

While hypersexuality can be a standalone condition, in many cases it is a symptom of another disorder. For people living with a bipolar disorder, hypersexuality can occur during an elevated or manic episode. Knowing what hypersexuality is, and if an underlying condition may be causing it, is essential in identifying the right kind of treatment.

What is Hypersexuality?

Hypersexuality, also understood as sex addiction, occurs when sexual thoughts or behaviours become compulsive and problematic, often causing guilt, shame, and depression. The manifestation of sex addiction can vary greatly from person to person – while some may engage in risky sexual behaviour with a variety of partners, others may obsessively visit porn sites. 

Signs of hypersexuality

Some common signs of sex addiction include things like:

  • Uncontrollable fantasies about sex
  • Frequent masturbation 
  • Engaging in progressively riskier or more taboo sexual behaviour, or seeking more extreme sexual content, in order to feel the same excitement
  • Regularly experiencing sexual urges that are uncontrollable
  • Facing challenges in relationships due to a fixation on sex
  • Being unable to limit sexual thoughts or behaviour despite negative impacts
  • Feeling guilt or shame about sexual activities

These signs indicate that there’s more going on than simply a high sex drive, and professional help should be sought in order to determine what’s behind this compulsive behaviour.

Causes of hypersexuality

 While there isn’t one clear cause of sex addiction, several factors have been identified as possible contributors to hypersexuality. For example, many who struggle with sex addiction have experienced some type of trauma. This can be related to sexual abuse or assault, but also may be related to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as neglect, growing up with an addicted parent, emotional abuse, or parentification.  

Research has additionally shown that individual neurochemistry or injuries to the brain may also influence hypersexuality, with chemical imbalances in pleasure and mood-related neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine potentially linked to sex addiction.

Hypersexuality can also be a symptom of an underlying disorder, such as depression, anxiety, gambling addiction, substance abuse or a bipolar disorder. This underscores the need for a medical evaluation if you believe you may have a sex addiction.

Understanding the Link Between Hypersexuality and Bipolar Disorders

Bipolar disorders are types of mood disorders that generally involve cycling through periods of elevated or manic moods and depression. Different types of bipolar disorders are characterised by the range and severity of mood swings between these states. 

Some common signs of a depressive period include things like:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, irritability, or emptiness
  • Lack of motivation and reduced ability to feel pleasure or enthusiasm
  • Sleep changes like oversleeping or insomnia
  • Unexplained physical pain
  • Cognitive changes including challenges maintaining focus or thinking clearly
  • Fatigue, feeling “slow”
  • Suicidal thoughts or ideation

In a manic period of bipolar disorder, people may experience things like:

  • High levels of activity and increased social behaviour
  • Feeling of euphoria and elevated confidence
  • Decreased need for rest, insomnia
  • Abundant and often uncontrollable energy
  • Risky behaviours, including hypersexuality
  • Rapid speech and thoughts
  • Grandiose or excessive acts, such as spending sprees or exaggerated claims

How are bipolar and sex addiction linked?

People in a manic state often experience heightened sociability, recklessness and a lack of inhibition which can fuel hypersexuality. They may notice a distinct shift in their interest in sex and frequency of sexual behaviour alongside other mood changes that tend to accompany a manic state. 

In other cases, people with underdiagnosed or undiagnosed bipolar disorder may turn to sex as a way to cope with the discomfort of their symptoms, resulting in increasingly compulsive behaviour as the root cause of the disorder remains unaddressed.

Not all people who have a bipolar disorder experience hypersexuality as a symptom, as specific symptoms tend to vary from person to person. For those that do however, this preoccupation with sex can have profound impacts on their ability to maintain intimate relationships, protect their physical and mental health, and successfully manage their finances. Possible consequences of hypersexuality include things like:

  • Deterioration or breakup of personal relationships
  • Financial problems related to spending money on sex or sexually explicit websites
  • Potential problems at the workplace related to inappropriate web browsing
  • Increased risk of sexually transmitted infections or unplanned pregnancies
  • Feelings of shame, guilt, or depression that can lead to lowered self-esteem and even suicidal ideation

Speaking to a mental health specialist about potential signs of sex addiction can help you get the treatment you need to avoid the negative impacts of hypersexuality. Early intervention can stop a potential problem from becoming entrenched, sparing you from the worst possible consequences and enabling healthier, safer choices that benefit you and your relationships.

Seeking Treatment for Hypersexuality and Bipolar Disorder

Many people with sex addiction feel a sense of shame about their actions, and may be confused about why they engage in these behaviours. Connecting with a mental health professional ensures a safe, non-judgmental space to talk about hypersexuality and explore potential causes. If a bipolar disorder is determined to be at the root of your sex addiction, your therapist may recommend several types of treatment in order to fully address the disorder and manage symptoms. 

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that is vital in treating a range of disorders, including behavioural addictions like sex addiction, as well as bipolar disorder. CBT works by exploring a problem or issue to identify root causes or core wounds, gently untangling contributing factors to examine and address each one. The therapist will also help to teach new patterns of thought or behaviour, helping the client consciously redirect their thinking to build neural pathways that support healthier choices and a more positive self-image. 

Sex therapy

Since sex addiction can have devastating effects on intimate relationships, sex therapy is often recommended to help people re-evaluate their sexual values, and re-establish the sexual agreements they have made with a partner. Sex therapy often involves discussion amongst partners about sexual values, needs and boundaries, and can help partners better navigate and support each other in a relationship where there is a bipolar disorder.


In some cases, medication may be recommended as a way to manage symptoms of a bipolar disorder and hypersexuality, helping to stabilise moods and lessen sexual urges. As with any disorder, medication is most effective when used as part of a holistic treatment approach that includes therapy and other healthy lifestyle changes.

Regular wellness practices

Incorporating regular exercise, meditation, relaxation techniques or other health-positive hobbies into your routine broadens your ability to cope with stress in non-destructive ways. Creating a daily schedule that utilises these tools can be helpful in fostering a healthy mind-body connection, and managing any challenges that arise.

Finding Support for Sex Addiction at The Dawn

Finding Support for Sex Addiction at The Dawn

The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab Thailand is a specially designed rehabilitation and wellness facility created to foster an environment of personal growth and healing for people who want to change their lives and overcome addiction or mental health issues. Internationally accredited by Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), The Dawn offers tailor made programmes that cater to each individual’s needs by using a comprehensive, holistic treatment method and modern techniques with proven results. 

Sex addiction treatment in Thailand

At The Dawn, our compassionate, experienced team of Western clinicians is able to diagnose and treat co-occurring disorders, including bipolar and sex addiction. We recognise the importance of identifying each component of a client’s issue in order to create a highly personalised and effective plan for treatment. We provide a peaceful, supportive, non-judgmental space where you can safely share your struggles and work towards healthy, lasting solutions. 

Call us today to learn more about The Dawn can help you in your journey towards recovery.

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