Hypersexuality & hyposexuality: Other side of bipolar disorder

Hypersexuality & hyposexuality: Other side of bipolar disorder

Sexual problems, such as hypersexuality and hyposexuality, often fail to generate the desired attention from psychiatrists despite the extensive psychosocial problems. Whereas risky sexual behavior (hypersexuality) and decreased sexual drive (hyposexuality) are consequences of mental illnesses like bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is often characterized by an extreme change of mood between feeling ecstatic, lively and risky to feeling disinterested, desolated and depressed. While people suffering from bipolar disorder tend to witness increased and risky sexual activity during a manic episode, they tend to lose interest in sex during a depressive episode. Such an embarrassing symptom can prove extremely challenging in nature with a potential to wreck marriages and relationships. Women are more susceptible to it than men are.

Some of the typical changes in sexual behavior witnessed during a manic episode include increased sexual activity, sex with multiple partners, preoccupation with sexual thoughts, increased use of pornography, etc.  People suffering from such problems also indulge in inappropriate flirting and touching, heavy use of sexual language, etc.

Common symptoms of hyposexuality and hypersexuality

As reported by Sexual Medicine Society of North America, nearly 25 to 80 percent of people who experience mania also experience hypersexuality and are found to be more prevalent among women. In fact, such inappropriate sexual behaviors are not only common in adults, but also in teens and younger children enduring bipolar disorder.

People with bipolar disorder may exhibit other unhealthy sexual behaviors, such as excessive masturbation, spending a significant amount of time planning their sexual activity, etc. The following are some of the most common signs of hypersexuality:

  • Multiple sex partners, including strangers
  • Obsession about sex
  • One-night stands
  • Multiple extramarital affairs
  • Increased use of pornography
  • Inability to achieve sexual satisfaction regardless of extensive sexual sessions
  • Using sex as a painkiller

During the period of low sex drive or hyposexuality, the partner of the person suffering from bipolar disorder may feel frustrated, confused and rejected. Some of the other sexual problems witnessed due to bipolar disorder include sexual dysfunction, such as erectile dysfunction in men and severe levels of sexual distress in women.

Possible underlying triggers

With regard to sexual addiction, there are several debates among experts concerning the underlying factors. Along with genetics, biochemical and hormonal imbalance, changes in the brain’s pathways, abuse during childhood and family dysfunction are some of the possible triggers that contribute to compulsive sexual behaviors. For long, hypersexuality has been seen more as a character flaw than as an addiction. However, over the years of research, experts have started perceiving sexual addiction as any addiction, such as alcohol, drugs, food or gambling.

As with any other addiction, it is often perplexing to decipher only specific individuals build up an inclination for sex. Sexual activity or engagement is fundamental for the humankind to exist. While a vast majority acknowledge sex as a highly pleasurable activity that involves physical and emotional intimacy, the experiences are quite different for a sex fanatic.

Just like a drug dependent who attains a euphoric state after using a drug, a sex fanatic in the same manner follows the path of sexual engagement for experiencing the extreme levels of euphoria. For them, sex is a way or self-medication measure to escape from agonizing or unsavoury emotions and has little to do with intimacy.

Dealing with bipolar disorder

In the case of a person suffering from sexual problems due to bipolar disorder, shame plays a huge role in restricting him or her from seeking treatment. Therefore, it is necessary not to classify such problems as a crime and encourage patients to share their fears with loved ones and an expert. Moreover, it is imperative to treat the underlying bipolar disorder as well, ensuring an effective recovery.

The Colorado Mental Health Help is a useful online resource to help people with any kind of disorders get the right treatment. You can chat with our counselors to get details about evidence-based residential mental health treatment centers in Colorado. You can also call our 24/7 helpline 866-899-5063 for information on the best mental health rehab in Colorado.