What happens both physically and mentally when someone becomes addicted to sex? Research studies point to numerous health impacts, ranging from depression to STDs. While sexual addiction is similar in root causes and treatments as other addictions, such as to alcohol or drugs, sex addiction is also linked to its own set of unique health problems.
People with sexual addiction may be unable to stop themselves from engaging in sexual behavior, such as repeated sex with multiple partners, even when the risks such as STDs or bodily injuries are known. Some people develop specific physical injuries related to repetitive movement or repeated strain on joints, ligaments and muscles. Others develop STDs that may not show outward symptoms and can go unnoticed until serious health damage has been incurred, such as HIV or Chlamydia.
At home and in the workplace, people with sexual addictions may lose their ability to concentrate and be constantly distracted by obsessive sexual thoughts. They may spend hours viewing sexual materials online, neglecting family relationships and workplace obligations. As they lose their family structure, financial stability and career positions, serious depression and anxiety disorders can also occur.
As the addiction progresses, the psychological ramifications also progress. People may have inflated or unreachable sexual expectations of their partner when they are involved with a sexual addiction or view excessive pornography, resulting in deep relationship dissatisfaction. Additionally, the sense of isolation that results from keeping all these sexual behaviors in secret can also be linked with severe emotional distress and depression.
Strong feelings of guilt and shame are also commonly noted among people with sexual addiction, and this may prevent them from seeking professional treatment and reaching recovery. Like other addictions, with professional help, people living with sexual addiction can return to an addiction-free life, and lead their spouse and family to recovery as well.