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03/27/2011 03:44 PM

Bipolar Hypersexuality


Bipolar Hypersexuality

The purpose of this is to increase one's understanding of Bipolar Hypersexuality. You will find several definitions, cited studies, and real life thoughts, feelings, and experiences from actual MD Junction community members.


1. “Hypersexuality means being excessively interested or involved in sexual activity. Hypersexuality is a symptom of bipolar mania, and may take the form of:

• Increased sexual activity with one's partner

• Involvement with internet pornography

• Excessive use of telephone sexual services regardless of cost

• Extramarital affairs

• Seeking out prostitutes and other risky behaviors” 1

2. “There isn't a clear-cut definition or criteria for being hypersexual, but for a person with bipolar disorder, it means being more focused on sex and risky sexual behaviors than they normally are. What's significant is that there is a change or difference from normal behaviors.

People with bipolar disorder experiencing hypersexuality may:

• Have multiple sex partners

• Think about sex constantly

• Have one-night stands

• Be more interested in pornography

• Notice a difference in their sexual behaviors

• Engage in other reckless behaviors like driving too fast or gambling” 2

3. “Hypersexuality is defined as “exhibiting unusual or excessive concern with or indulgence in sexual activity.”

Hypersexuality is generally associated with hypomania and mania and used to be known as nymphomania. (Although the terms nymphomania (for women) and satyriasis (for men) are still used by the World Health Organization.) It should be noted that the severity of hypersexuality runs the gamut just like all hypomanic / manic symptoms do.

Hypersexuality is actually the excessive desire for sex or indulgent activities. Hypersexuality is about the needing, the craving of a release. Hypersexuality is feeling sex move across your skin, slip down the shaft of each hair, and settling deep within your core making all other wants irrelevant. Hypersexuality is a driving force. Like eating. When you're starving to death.” 3

Some Studies:

“Hypersexuality may be the last frontier in bipolar disorder. Even now, despite everything that has been learned about the illness, it's hard to put a finger on how big a problem it really is. The research is limited. Only seven studies have ever been published on the subject and their findings diverge: According to these studies, hypersexuality occurs in 25 to 80 percent of all patients with mania. After reviewing the literature, Manic-Depressive Illness (the 2007 text by Frederick k. Goodwin, MD, and Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD) settled on an average of 57 percent.

And that hardly tells the story. For, despite its primal role in human behavior, sexuality remains one of the hardest, most sensitive subjects to dredge up in any but the most cursory details. Which explains why, while hypersexuality is listed as one of the primary symptoms of bipolar in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition), may psychiatrists refer to it almost as an afterthought – if at all – when forming a diagnosis:

Racing thoughts? Check.

Insomnia? Check.

Wild mood swings? Check.

Unrestrained spending sprees? Check.

Hypersexuality? Um…

Though hypersexuality may present itself as just one aspect in a constellation of problems, it is often the most destructive and challenging part of bipolar disorder – troubling families of young children suffering from juvenile hypersexuality, ruining marriages, generating life-threating health problems.

At least one study found that hypersexuality appears to play a larger role in women's lives than in men's. The 1980 study, led by Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, a clinical psychologist generally regarded as one of the foremost experts on bipolar disorder – and one of its most well-known sufferers – reported that women with bipolar tend to be far more sexually provocative and seductive than their male counterparts. Further, Jamison found that twice as many women as men reported sexual intensity as “very much increased” during hypomania. The women in her study also rated sexual intensity as the most important and enjoyable part of mania.

Despite such findings, personal sexuality is a subject often avoided on the psychiatrist's couch. Indeed, patients complain that their doctors rarely want to hear about it. Whatever insights they've arrived at have come by way of friends and fellow patients, they say.” 4

Actual MD Junction Community Members Say…….

Some members of the MDJ community were asked 5 questions with regards to bipolar hypersexuality. I am going to give you the question and then the responses will be bulleted. Hopefully you will find some of your answers here or at least let you know that you do not deal with this particular symptom alone.

What is your definition of hypersexuality?

• Having heightened interests in having sex with the opposite sex. Seeking attention of any sort from members of the opposite sex and acting on those advances.

• An elevated sex drive, such that your ability to make decisions or control your actions within what you would consider ordinary self-control is severely compromised.

• My definition of hypersexuality is the overwhelming need for physical contact, excitement, danger and any kind of sexual interaction with another when in a heightened state of hypomania or mania mainly. The need is overwhelming, very difficult to control, and almost like a basic primal need that overcomes you and controls you.

• For me this it's a heightened awareness of the opposite sex and the sensual sexual arousement that accompanies it.

How has this affected you and a family (if applicable)?

• I'm married so when I'm hypersexual it definitely has a negative effect on my marriage because I experience hypersexuality but usually it is NOT with my husband. I've had 3 affairs, 2 that my husband knows about.

• It has definitely heightened my awareness of my husband's sex appeal and I'm more sensual therefore 'm wanting sex a lot which is causing sleep deprivation from having too many late nights leading to lack of sleep. I've felt remorse and guilt which brings me to a low when I've 'acted upon' strong urges. Some of this is positive (more sex with husband brings us closer but also making me very tired too).

• My family seems to sense when I'm dealing with hypersexuality. There is a lot of tension and things just don't seem to go right. There is a breakdown in communication between me and my spouse.

What symptoms do you experience?

• Extreme arousal and sexual urges consistently throughout the day regardless of sexual activity level. Compromised decision making leading to risky behavior such as work time viewing of pornography and self-pleasure and other sex acts in public places. Masturbating while driving home, while at a school computer lab other public places. Overwhelming urges to masturbate to relieve sexual tension throughout the day. I feel as though I could have sex or engage in a sexual act 3-4 times my normal level of activity.

• An overwhelming sense of anxiety. It seems like someone has lit a match under me and my brain is on sex-overload. They say that an individual cannot be dual minded but I feel that I'm dual minded and single minded all at the same time. Senses, visual distractions, music, can all go into the mix of things. Sometimes I never know when it's going to hit and other times I try to fight the feelings but know that I am going to lose.

• Unusual and heightened increase in sexuality. Dressing provocatively to draw attention to myself.

• Constant want or need for attention by the opposite sex, intense sexual arousal without being touched, seeking danger and excitement no matter what, wanting to be with anyone including strangers just to get that high, feeling addicted to the chase of getting what I want, obsessing until I get the release that I need.

• Heightened awareness the all around beauty of men acuteness of senses, eg. visual, smell, music sounds & its lyrics, I'm more sensual & feel very sexy and sometimes think i look absolutely irresistible, feels like men are looking at me in a sexual manner, dancing arouses me again feeling more sensual, i get tingling & pulsating sensations down in my 'below parts' clitoris area, breasts become sensitive and get that exited feeling, vagina mucus (cum), shallow breathing (sometimes heavy) along with some overwhelming euphoria, i get flirtatious, i like to wear seductive clothing low cut shirts tight jeans my hair looking fabulous pulling it onto my cheeks, again these things make me feel sexual & sensual, butterflies in chest area and stomach, weakness, light headedness, dizzy, sex with husband is much more intense and orgasms last a long time and i get a lot of pre-mini ones.

What do you do to reduce the hypersexuality?

• I try to occupy my time with other things like hobbies or exercise. I go to therapy and talk about it and learn new coping mechanisms. I try to keep away from my trigger situations. I avoid alcohol and try to surround myself with positive people who are there to support me. Although even with all of this, it is still so incredibly hard to decrease this want when it sets in.

• I go exercise, clean house, or write my feelings out. It doesn't seem to do much good at times. I may be able to hold it off at bay for a while. Sometimes a medication change is necessary but I have not been able to find an ‘anti-hypersexuality' medication yet.

• Have more sex with my husband, have masturbated (not often), i avoid certain people.

• Increase my anti-psychotic.

• Either act on it or wait it out. I haven't really looked at or attempted anything other than that.

Are there any feelings you have either before, during, or after, i.e., loneliness, grief, guilt, shame, unsafe, unsure, doubt, depression or even an increase in mania, or whatever else you may experience)?

• In my experience, no there hasn't been a noticeable link between that and a sudden increase or decrease in my mood state. The hyper sexuality is definitely strongly associated for me with being hypomanic, however in my recollections there hasn't been a constant link between when it happens and the overall arc of the episode itself.

• Usually there is guilt after my hypomania stops but the connections I've made may go on after the hypersexuality stops. Usually when I come out of a hypomanic episode, I crash, feeling guilty, lonely and having severe depression.

• I experience this symptom mostly when hypomanic/manic and am usually very excitable over just about anything not sex stuff and have an overwhelming LOVE for people, then more so men then symptoms sets in, been depressed too and still experience hypersexuality. I do feel shame and guilt almost always when i chose to act upon the urges but I've learned to just 'shut these emotions down' and not feel these feelings and they go away quickly, during hypersexuality i feel good, high, young, and euphoria, i just want to go have sex with all men, it's like a real buzz that i don't want to go away, for me this symptoms comes and goes quick so that could be why i enjoy it so much. Its just when i act inappropriately is when the negative stuff affects me guilt and shame, and I've acted impulsively numerous times now on minor stuff and a few bigger stuff.

• After I get the release or contact that I had desired it normally sends me on a trip up to severe mania. The high only makes me higher and makes me want more and therefore I am almost less satisfied because now I am searching for more, always more. Eventually once I come down from the mania or the high I start to feel lonely, abandoned and depressed. Mainly I am not so much ashamed as I am confused on how it happened so fast and how out of control it became and knowing that it's going to happen again.

My only other comments on hypersexuality is that I believe that people without bipolar tend to believe that this symptom is an excuse for a bipolar person to be promiscuous and to hurt others. Coming from someone who suffers from this symptom I would like them to know that in no way would I ever do this on purpose and want to hurt people. But when the symptom comes and becomes so out of control it is like something else takes over and I feel as though my actions are not my own. It is like I have been reduced to my basic primal instincts. The feeling is a feel of loss of control, need and pleasure seeking. Trying to fill something inside that is impossible in reality to fill. However all of that being said I realize that we are responsible for our actions and that is why I am in therapy and taking steps to try to control this symptom, but the intensity of this symptom for me still gives me much trouble.

Narrative Responses:

• I was not self-aware enough until the past two years to know when I was hypersexual. For me I'd sleep with people impulsively then try to make relationships out of casual sex.

I only feel ashamed much later. While I'm in it I can't feel shame. Last summer I became hypersexual and webcam sex with several people while I was married. Keep in mind I hadn't had sex in almost two years and I am totally against sexual pictures. It was totally out of character. Now I am very embarrassed and don't feel like that was me that did that.

Masturbation helps me with hypersexuality, but real sex is much better. Unfortunately my ex was unwilling or unable to participate. I did finally decide to end my relationship around the time of the webcam stuff. I'm not sure if it was impulsively. The problems had been there for years, but the hypersexuality made me decide I couldn't take it anymore.

• For me hypersexuality is at its height with mania or hypomania and I cannot stop the urges no matter how hard I try. I can try to focus on something else, do other activities, or anything really but it doesn't help. The urge and want is still there. However I do have the choice on whether or not to act on it. Sometimes at the height of mania I don't even feel like I have the control to stop myself, but in mania a lot of times I feel out of control of much more than just hypersexuality. I don't think as bipolar we want to hurt anyone, I know that I don't. I just know that sometimes something takes over you and you feel like you are not yourself and suddenly you don't know how to control yourself or even realize what the right behaviors are. Your mind is just racing and you are trying to catch up with it. I would never hurt anyone on purpose, but sometimes there are forces greater than us that take over. BUT, with therapy, a pdoc and learning how to control your emotions can help greatly in overcoming this.

At, one can find what others are saying about hypersexuality and bipolar disease.

Hypersexuality and Relationships

“Hypersexuality can be a fun time depending on what you and your partner like and how available your partner is. You may be able to channel the overflowing sexuality into a glorious weekend or even week.

Or you might not.

Unfortunately, often hypersexuality results in the seeking of sex from any available source and sometimes this is outside the relationship. Yes, hypersexuality during mania can destroy relationships.” 5

Managing Hypersexuality

“Hypersexuality with bipolar disorder isn't a separate condition or problem that needs its own treatment – it's a symptom of bipolar disorder. Once the bipolar disorder is successfully treated and mood swings and symptoms are under control, those hypersexual feelings will dissipate.

‘You treat the disease, not the symptom,' says Viguera. Once the disease is under control, people with bipolar disorder often react differently to sex and their past behaviors.

‘You often see a lot of regret for the past behaviors because they put themselves in very bad situations,' says Viguera. ‘When they're well, they reflect back on that and there can be a lot of regret and remorse. It's just another clue that shows you that that was not their normal state.'

Bipolar disorder is usually treated with:

• Mood-stabilizing medications

• Antidepressants

• Cognitive-behavioral therapy

• Other forms of therapy and counseling that may include family members

• Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT); also called “shock therapy” because small electrical waves are used.

The right combinations of these various therapies can reduce or eliminate bipolar mood changes between mania and depression, and symptoms of hypersexuality will no longer be a problem.

But those symptoms of hypersexuality may be a big red flag for some people with bipolar disorder that they are slipping into a manic episode. When they start to notice themselves thinking more about sex or engaging in promiscuous behavior, it's time to notify the doctor that symptoms are starting.” 6

“It simply comes down to knowing yourself and your life. This symptom is just like any other, if it is harming your life, then you should develop strategies to handle that. For example:

1. Recognize hypersexuality onset

2. Tell your partner

3. Talk to your doctor for a possible med change

4. See a therapist

5. Create a network to help you handle the symptom without harming yourself or others.

While you'll likely have to just wait for the feeling to pass, the feeling along won't destroy your life, but your actions can.” 7

Hope this information, the real life comments from your own MDJ Community Members, and the links are helpful and can lead you to the answers you are searching for. This is information is just a tool, a resource, if you will.

Cited Sources


2 disorder-and-sex.aspx

3 hypersexuality-explained/


5 hypersexuality-explained/

6 disorder-and-sex.aspx

7 hypersexuality-explained/


03/27/2011 04:28 PM


03/27/2011 04:28 PM

Wow great resources, thank you!

03/27/2011 04:30 PM
Posts: 13727
Group Leader
I'm an Advocate

Wonderfully prepared, good work i thank you on behalf of the mdj community for preparing this...(((Hugs)))

03/27/2011 04:40 PM
Posts: 14315
Group Leader
I'm an Advocate

A wonderful resource for our community!

03/27/2011 05:08 PM
Posts: 6985
VIP Member
I'm an Advocate

Thank you so much for taking the time to prepare this wonderful resource for our community here at MDJ.

03/28/2011 10:07 AM
Posts: 4290
VIP Member
I'm an Advocate

This was EXCELLENT!! The links are fantastic.

I have had many questions (and some shame) about hypersexuality. This clears those up.

You put so much work into this. Bravo! You are a blessing! Smile

03/29/2011 11:57 AM
Posts: 757
Senior Member

Such an excellent read! Well thought out and put together. Much food for thought. Thanks for taking the time and effort as it did explain alot about my past and present behaviours.

03/29/2011 12:25 PM

Wonderful resource! Thanks for posting this!

03/30/2011 07:18 PM
Posts: 3

wow thats all i have to say WOW

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