Nymphomania (sex addiction): causes, symptoms and treatment

People suffering from hypersexuality or sexual addiction, formerly known as nymphomania in women and satire in menThey feel the need to get sexual gratification all the time. However, they aren’t so much looking for pleasure as they are trying to relieve the tension and emotional discomfort they are feeling.

In this article we will analyze the causes, symptoms and treatments of sex addiction. In addition, we will delimit this concept and its relationship with other relatives: hypersexuality, nymphomania and satirosis.

    Nymphomania, sex addiction and hypersexuality

    Hypersexuality is defined as frequent, excessive, and uncontrollable increase in desire and sexual activity. Although the term is not taken up by diagnostic classifications, “hypersexuality” is the official concept for such alterations. Hypersexuality is also known as “sex addiction”.

    Addictions are behavioral and / or brain disorders that consist in the compulsive search for gratifying stimuli or that relieve emotional distress. This constraint occupies most of life to the detriment of other aspects, such as social and professional functioning.

    “Nymphomania” is an archaic word which was used to refer specifically to female hypersexuality but has become a colloquial name for “sex addiction”. In the case of men, the term “satirosis” was mainly used. ICD-10 always includes these two terms under the category “Excessive Sexual Impulse”. Hypersexuality was not included in DSM-5 due to lack of scientific evidence.

    A person is considered hypersexual or sex addicted when their worry about sexual activity causes them discomfort or interferes with their normal functioning. It is estimated that between 3 and 6% of the population has some degree of sex addiction.

    the causes

    If we understand nymphomania or hypersexuality as sex addiction, we can explain the development of this disorder from brain dopaminergic activity. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in pleasure and strengthening; our body secretes it when we eat, when we consume certain substances or when we have an orgasm.

    The biological component of addictions is attributed to the search for sensations associated with dopamine. When a person becomes dependent on a behavior or a stimulus, he acquires a physical and / or psychological dependence and also develops a tolerance to the object of the addiction; this means that to achieve the same physiological effect, an increasing dose is required.

    Hypersexuality can also occur from the consumption of dopamine agonist drugs, such as those used to treat Parkinson’s disease, as well as damage to the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which take care of regulating the sexual impulse.

    In many cases, nymphomania appears as a secondary symptom of other psychological disorders. Of particular note are dementias, borderline personality disorders, autism, bipolar disorders, and Klüver-Bucy and Kleine-Levin syndromes. Addiction to alcohol and other drugs can also facilitate the development of hypersexuality.

      Symptoms of sex addiction

      Not to be officially considered a disorder, a sexual addiction it has no specific diagnostic criteria. However, experts have identified different signs and symptoms characteristic of hypersexuality.

      Masturbation and excessive sex are the main symptom of sex addiction. The person spends most of their time seeking sexual gratification, for example by visiting pornographic pages and trying to find sexual partners (including prostitution professionals), and he is unable to give up these activities even if he tries Many times.

      People with nymphomania neglect their obligations and responsibilities in favor of their addiction and maintain their compulsive behaviors. despite the negative consequences they have on their lives; among other things, it is common for people with hypersexuality to be repeatedly unfaithful to their partner or to have difficulty connecting intimately with them.

      Sexual addiction facilitates the onset of paraphilias, i.e. obtaining sexual pleasure from atypical sources (such as pain or specific objects), and behaviors that can be qualified as harassment, especially if sexual desire is focused on specific people.

      Intervention and treatment

      Treatment for nymphomania is similar to what would be done in other types of addictions, both behavioral and substance-related. Thus, the main goal is abstinence, at least temporarily, as well as the acquisition of healthy habits.

      1. Cognitive behavioral therapy

      Cognitive behavioral therapy is the dominant orientation in the psychological treatment of addictions. It focuses on the interrelationship between behavior, thought and emotion. In cases of addiction, CBT mainly involves increasing motivation to change et al. development of enriching alternative activities.

        2. Dialectical behavioral therapy

        Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, developed by Marsha Linehan, is one of the treatments we know as “Third Generation Cognitive Behavioral Therapy”. It differs from classical CBT by its focus on emotions and meditation through mindfulness, As well as in problem management skills training.

          3. Support groups

          This type of group therapy is led by experts, who may be psychotherapists or recovered drug addicts. Support groups are very helpful for people who are hypersexual or have other types of drug addiction. they help to share their problems and possible strategies to deal with them. They are particularly effective in dealing with denials and rationalizations about addiction.

          Many of these groups are based on the 12-step diagram developed by the Alcoholics Anonymous community, which was one of the first groups to identify hypersexuality as an addictive disorder.

          4. Couple and couple therapy

          In case of sex addiction, partner therapy can be of great benefit to improve communication, confidence and sexual satisfaction between the person with nymphomania and their partner.

          5. Medicines

          Antidepressant drugs can be effective to reduce hypersexuality resulting from emotional distress. If nymphomania occurs as a result of bipolar disorder or hormonal disturbances, mood stabilizers and hormone therapies (especially antiandrogens) are sometimes prescribed, respectively. However, the use of medicinal products should only be initiated on medical indication.

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