Bipolar Disorder and Hypersexuality: How Do They Relate?


Bipolar disorder affects 2.3 million Americans today

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that causes shifts in mood, activity levels, energy, and the ability to do everyday tasks. One of the things bipolar disorder can affect is sexuality. 

There’s a direct link between being bipolar and sex. When someone with bipolar disorder is having a manic episode, hypersexuality symptoms can occur. The recklessness of a manic episode can increase hypersexuality bipolar triggers.

To better understand and empathize, let’s navigate bipolar disorder and hypersexuality. 

Bipolar Disorder and Hypersexuality

Bipolar disorder is an umbrella term, there are several types of bipolar and related disorders. The symptoms cause a lot of stress and difficulties in everyday life.

  • Bipolar I disorder. This means you’ve had at least one manic episode in your life. A manic episode can be described as an unusually elevated or irritable mood with high levels of energy. 
  • Bipolar II disorder. Similar to Bipolar I in that there are highs and lows. The difference is that you never reach Mania. You had at least one major depressive episode.
  • Cyclothymic disorder. Not as extreme as the episodes for people with bipolar but you still experience significant mood shifts (highs and lows).

While some people believe that simple mood changes indicate a sign of bipolar disorder, it is often not the case. The symptoms and behaviors are often destructive enough to significantly decrease the quality of life.

Hypersexuality Symptoms

Hypersexuality is described as a dysfunctional preoccupation with sexual fantasy. Often it means pursuing casual sex, addiction to pornography, and compulsive masturbation.

It is difficult to diagnose professionally because there is no formal definition. However, there are standard symptoms to look out for. 

  • Intense sexual fantasies. You have constant and intense fantasies and behaviors that you can’t control and take up your time. 
  • Guilt Afterwards. There’s a need to do sexual behaviors but afterward, there is also guilt and remorse. 
  • Sex as Escapism. Compulsive sexual behavior is used as an escape from other problems in your life. 
  • Reckless Behavior. You engage in sexual acts that have serious consequences. That can mean anything from passing sexually transmitted diseases to ruining relationships or work.

While both bipolar disorders and hypersexuality can be diagnosed separately, there is often overlap. Hypersexuality is a common symptom for people with bipolar disorder, particularly those who are vulnerable to manic episodes.

Bipolar Disorder and Hypersexuality: How Do They Relate?

Hypersexuality and Depression

Many people with bipolar disorder experience depressive episodes more than manic episodes. While there is often a connection between manic episodes and hypersexuality, the opposite can be true as well.

People going through a depressive episode can experience the opposite of hypersexuality, hyposexuality. Hyposexuality is the complete lack of a sex drive. 

Some of the symptoms of hyposexuality to look out for:

  • Lack of Interest. Absolutely no desire to have sex.
  • Lack of Confidence. With hyposexuality, people find themselves feeling less desirable or unattractive. They might even neglect hygiene or grooming.
  • Physical Exhaustion. Depressive episodes zap your energy and that might lead to physical fatigue that makes sex difficult.

There are all types of connections between depression and sex drive. For the most part, depression is linked to a low sex drive. There are times however that hypersexuality can stem from depression, especially if it’s a form of escapism.

Hypersexuality Triggers

For people with bipolar disorder that are susceptible to hypersexuality, there are often triggers to look out for. Although mainly triggers for bipolar disorder, they can apply to hypersexuality as a symptom as well. 

Not Enough Sleep

Sleep disruptions can trigger mood episodes. Bad sleep often leads to a manic episode which intensifies sexual desires.

People with bipolar disorder need to adopt a healthy sleep routine. Not sleeping enough or bad sleep will keep you from getting proper rest and put additional stress on the mind and body.

Drug and Alcohol Use

Drug and alcohol use is already known to cause potential negative effects. For people with bipolar disorder, these are a big trigger. 

Drugs and alcohol affect the neurochemical balance and if you’re taking any sort of medication for bipolar disorder, it might alter the efficacy of it.

Unfortunately, it is easy when you have bipolar disorder to self-medicate using drugs or alcohol but this can lead to an endless loop of substance abuse triggering episodes which lead to more substance abuse.

Changes in the Seasons

Seasonal depression is already a well-known problem for anyone susceptible to mental illness. Seasonal changes are a trigger for bipolar disorders, usually occurring in the winter months.

This is likely due to the lack of sun during the winter seasons or the sun going down at an earlier time. 

Negative Life Events

When something goes wrong in your life, it is easy to feel several negative feelings. If you have bipolar disorder, this can have serious psychiatric consequences.

Negative life events are tied to depressive episodes and may increase the severity of existing depression. It could also trigger mania since it can create a need for escapism from pain.

Hypersexuality can come from this mania, it can be an unhealthy coping mechanism to avoid confronting those negative events.

Positive Life Events

Positive life events can also trigger a manic episode. Anything from falling in love to accomplishing a big career goal leads to mania. 

This burst of confidence and happiness often creates that recklessness that is a slippery slope to hypersexuality.

Bipolar and Sex: Treatments

Although there is no cure for bipolar disorder, there are many treatments. The best option is therapy, get a psychological diagnosis, and see the type of therapy that works best for your particular disorder.

There is also medication available as well as medical support. If you suspect that you or someone you love has bipolar disorder, there are options available to help combat it. 

Hypersexuality Bipolar

Although it may feel overwhelming to discuss mental disorders, it’s the first step to creating a comfortable learning environment that will lead to help for those suffering from it.

Hypersexuality is a common symptom of bipolar disorder, there are numerous studies about the connection between them. Knowing the symptoms and potential treatments for hypersexuality bipolar disorder can lead to more information on how to be better prepared for an episode.

If you’re interested in more information about bipolar disorder or any other disorder, feel free to contact us

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