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Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder now as common as Depression

Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder now as common as Depression

by Shruthi Venkatesh November 16 2018, 3:39 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 27 secs

A new study reveals some 10 percent of men and seven percent of women struggle to control sexual thoughts and urges. An American survey conducted for more than 2,000 adults found on average, more than 8 percent of them reported symptoms of compulsive sexual behaviour disorder - a persistent pattern of failure in controlling intense sexual urges that leads to distress and social impairment.

Sex addiction affects men and women equally

American attitudes toward sex have undergone something of a transformation in the last several decades. In the 1970s, the majority of men and women in the US disapproved of sex before marriage. Now, most millennial are in favour of sex before marriage, casual sex is on the rise, and far more open to the idea of same sex couples and activities. And as these perspectives have shifted, access to sexually explicit content has multiplied online. It’s definitely controversial, Janna Dickenson of the University of Minnesota and colleagues wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Network Open. “From Tiger Woods to Harvey Weinstein, news articles have conjectured that ‘sex addiction’ is a growing and heretofore unrecognized ‘epidemic,’ while the scientific community debates whether such a problem even exists,” they wrote.

The researchers further confessed that it is not that hard to find someone with compulsive sexual behaviour disorder. It fails to control one’s sexual feelings and behaviours in a way that causes substantial distress and/or impairment in functioning. People will feel like the thoughts or behaviours interfere with normal life in some way. They used data from a large national questionnaire, the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behaviour, to see how common sexual behaviour problems might be. It asks a range of questions, including:

How often have you had trouble controlling your sexual urges?

How often have you felt unable to control sexual behaviour?

How often have you made pledges or promises to change or alter your sexual behaviour?

How often have your sexual thoughts or behaviours interfered with relationships?

“Distress and impairment associated with difficulty controlling sexual feelings, urges, and behaviors were measured using the Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Inventory. A score of 35 or higher on a scale of 0 to 65 indicated clinically relevant levels of distress and/or impairment. A surprising number of people scored that high, and 40 percent of them were women. Overall, just under 9 percent of people met the cut-off” Dickenson and colleagues wrote.

This report of compulsive sexual behaviour problems is now more common than major depression. The high prevalence of this prominent feature associated with compulsive sexual behaviour disorder has important implications for health care professionals and society. Healthcare professionals should be alert to the high number of people who are distressed about their sexual behaviour, carefully assess the nature of the problem within its socio-cultural context, and find appropriate treatments for both men and women.

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