Bipolar disorder is a cyclical mood disorder that involves episodes of mania and depression. These episodes affect many more areas than mood. They also affect thinking, behavior, energy levels, and may include hallucinations and delusions (psychosis) when in their more severe forms. Mania and hypomania (usually a less intense version of mania) is the “high” aspect of bipolar disorder. It involves symptoms such as high energy, little need for sleep, and poor judgment. Depression is the “low” side of bipolar disorder. It involves extreme apathy, sadness, numbness, and little motivation to do anything.
A symptom that may not be talked about as much within this population is hypersexuality. This condition involves an intense preoccupation and compulsion with sexual interactions, thoughts, and fantasies. It occurs in 25 to 80 percent of people who have bipolar disorder and if left untreated, hypersexuality may lead to repetitive affairs, diseases, and/or unwanted pregnancies. This problem can ruin good marriages, employment, and can land someone in jail. Hypersexuality comes in the manic (either hypomanic or full-blown manic) phases of bipolar disorder. Studies have reported that those who suffer from hypersexuality have more blood flowing to the parts of their brain that are responsible for regulating their emotions and moods.
Hypersexuality can manifest in the form of having sexual relations with many people, having continuous thoughts about sex, or watching a lot of porn and masturbating as often as possible. It does not always lead to external sexual relations but grows to preoccupy the mind of the person who is experiencing it. Many say it is irresistible, especially when combined with the poor judgment, impulsivity, and lack of self-awareness that is characteristic of the manic phase of bipolar disorder. When someone is manic and hypersexual they say that they are not like themselves at all. A reserved person may become loud, talkative, extremely flirtatious, and may sleep with someone he/she has no feeling for. This symptom can ruin a person’s life, so must be recognized and treated.
WHAT ARE MORE SPECIFIC SYMPTOMS OF HYPERSEXUALITY
While hypersexuality exists within the bipolar spectrum it can also occur on its own. It is known under other names such as sexual addiction or compulsive sexual behavior. These behaviors, urges, and fantasies are very hard to control, especially when someone is in a manic episode as judgment can become very poor, impulsiveness runs high, and risk-taking is the rule, rather than the exception.
HOW CAN I ATTEMPT TO CONTROL HYPERSEXUALITY?
Hypersexuality happens to many people who have bipolar disorder. It is, often, part of the manic phase and as mentioned, can be damaging. But, there are some ways you can minimize the consequence or prevent this bipolar tag-along.
Reduce Your Triggers
Whatever triggers symptoms of your hypersexuality, you must limit these. If erotic movies, TV shows, advertisements, or full-on pornography are triggers, find some way to remove them from your life. Turn the channel, change the radio or Pandora channel, lose that hot person’s number you got when you were manic before, or get rid of those websites from your bookmarks. Once you have taken control of your triggers, this can help you manage your bipolar-related hypersexuality.
Keeping a journal is an excellent way to help you keep track of your feelings and get some of those stressful thoughts out of your head. Whether you are writing about work, a bipolar episode, your family, or some other event, it can be very relaxing to get it out of your head and down onto paper.
Don’t “Ride The Wave”
Mania feels good. It really does, but it can cause a lot of havoc if you let it progress to more severe stages. When you first notice you are becoming manic, do not trick yourself into thinking you can handle it. Contact your physician and see about medicine adjustments stress-reduction techniques, or some other methods to bring the mania back down to a manageable level. If you need to, commit yourself to an emergency room. Mania starts out as a ball of light that you drag behind you, but, as it progresses, it will become a comet dragging you along. Don’t let it. Get help early.
WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW TO COMBAT HYPERSEXUALITY IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
There are many things to know to prepare yourself and your partner for hypersexuality. These should be discussed in the relationship and plans should be put in place to protect against the potential consequences that can come with this bipolar symptom.
The first thing you and your partner will want to do is become very knowledgeable of all symptoms of bipolar disorder, including hypersexuality. Researchers have found that hypersexuality occurs more in women than men.
Know What To Do When Symptoms Arise
When you first begin to experience hints of hypersexual behaviors or thoughts, get help. This can reduce the intensity of both the hypersexuality and hypomanic/manic episode, which will prevent many consequences. You may start or adjust mood stabilizers/antipsychotics or increase cognitive-behavioral or counseling appointments. Also, creating a plan of action with your partner is a great way to guard against hypomanic and manic episodes that may put a dent in your relationship if ignored.
Know Your Hypersexuality Signs
For most people, bipolar disorder episodes and hypersexuality do not just come on in a wave of exuberance, high energy, and uncontrollable lust, there is a cycling up period. For some people, this period is very short, but for most, there is time to block this destructive condition. When you begin to experience a seemingly insatiable urge for sex that is very difficult to resist, you may be in the first stages of hypersexuality.
These yearnings often occur throughout the entire day and are paired with an extreme compulsion to be acted on. This may manifest in different ways, such as intense flirting, excessive pornography viewing or masturbating. Know exactly how this symptom manifests in yourself and talk to your significant other and physician. Begin your previously arranged plan of action, which may include lowering your stress levels, talking with your partner more, and removing things from your schedule, for instance.