Sex Addiction And Depression–Is There A Link?

Sex addiction and depression may seem like totally unrelated conditions. But there is some evidence that suggests that the two may be more closely linked to each other than most people would think. This is generally referred to as co-occurring addiction.

The Root Of Addiction 

An often-held misconception is that people diagnosed with sex addiction simply do not have sufficient control over their actions and impulses. Many also blame sex addicts for their seeming inability to resist overindulging in harmful behavior.

In truth, however, all forms of addiction are complex disorders caused by various factors. Among some of the factors that could contribute toward addiction are:

  • Genetics
  • Neurobiology
  • Environment
  • Family history

It is also known that people who deal with addiction repeatedly engage in risky and harmful behavioral cycles, despite the negative consequences that their actions entail.

Although it may be difficult for some to understand, addicts often engage in destructive behavior because of some perceived benefit. In many cases, the action in question provides relief for underlying medical conditions–such as depression–that are undiagnosed and untreated. 

Why Depressed People Trend Toward Addiction 

Many people dealing with depression or anxiety turn to alcohol or prescription or illicit drugs. But they are just as likely to turn to aberrant behavior such as those commonly associated with sex addiction. Using drugs or engaging in undesirable behavior is often seen as a process to cope with depression or anxiety symptoms or at least make them easier to bear. 

Various forms of addiction can develop in people dealing with depression. As mentioned previously, this could be an addiction to drugs or alcohol or destructive behavior. As long as the underlying condition remains untreated, the person affected will continue to turn toward the thing that provides relief. Addiction will offer an irresistible appeal for as long as a person with depression struggles with the condition. 

How Depression Relates To Sex Addiction 

We’ve discussed why depressed people lean toward addiction and addictive behavior. But how does depression relate to sex addiction? 

Most people instinctively turn towards something that provides a more pleasant alternative to whatever makes them feel so sad, depressed, or empty. Many depressed people will therefore turn to the pleasure and excitement provided by drugs or sex. 

But the lure of sexual pleasure goes deeper than that provided by drugs. Many sex addicts have a long history of turning to sex to feel better or deal with an unpleasant experience or situation. For such people, the ‘high’ produced by sex is similar to the high produced by ingesting drugs and provides some measure of relief. 

Furthermore, engaging in sexual behavior provides depressed sex addicts with the opportunity to connect with another person on some level. This sense of connection can be quite powerful and make it even more likely for depressed people to fall into risky behavioral patterns repeatedly. 

The Problem With Sex Addiction 

Deriving pleasure from sex and relationships is normal for most people. Even seeking out sexual partners is healthy to some degree. But the problem with turning to sex to deal with depression is that it is often the result of unhealthy compulsion. 

Sex addicts aren’t usually interested in developing or fostering long-term relationships. Instead, they use sex as an escape or ‘quick-fix’ solution for something that requires a thorough diagnosis and intensive treatment. Rather than seeking out other people with which they could build a healthy relationship, sex addicts are interested only in going after the one thing that provides the pleasure and relief they so desperately crave. 

Treatment and Recovery 

Dealing with sex addiction can be difficult enough as it is. For many sex addicts, the difficulty is compounded by dealing with an underlying case of depression. 

If you or someone you care for is dealing with sex addiction and depression, it is vital to seek professional help as soon as possible. Consulting with a mental health specialist is the first and most important step toward addressing the complex issues associated with depression and sex addiction. If someone is uncomfortable in a one-on-one session, they may find it beneficial to join a group therapy session and hear the experiences of others in a similar situation to them.

The good news is that there are many treatment options available for people dealing with the dual issues of depression and sex addiction. An intensive course of treatment will help the affected individual stop destructive habits, develop healthy relationships, and derive more satisfaction from life.