The country singer Eduardo Costa has already admitted to being a sex addict and needed treatment to contain his sexual urges. “I have a problem with that [sexo]boy, I do it about 15 times a week, I’m serious”, he said, during participation in the YouTube channel “Conceito Sertanejo”, last year.
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), this addiction is known as compulsive sexual behavior disorder. But it can easily be confused with a high libido, according to professor of psychiatry Danilo Baltieri, who specialized in sexual disorders during his doctorate at USP (University of São Paulo).
He explains that the diagnosis of sex addiction does not depend on the number of times an individual masturbates or has sex per day, but on the loss of control over desire. “Addiction is when the individual cannot postpone the will. It is an intense and persistent behavior that causes damage, because the person stops doing other activities, including professional ones, due to sex”, he says.
Second baltieri, this addiction is related to dopamine, one of the main hormones linked to pleasure, which is released after having sex and consuming drugs such as alcohol, cocaine, heroin and nicotine. “There is a neurobiological denominator common to the addiction to sex and other drugs. That’s why many addicts feel the need to progressively increase their sexual practice. I’ve seen patients who had sex 17 times a day, for example”, says he, who created a one of the few Brazilian outpatient clinics prepared to treat those who suffer from sexual disorders.
But the professor explains that, unlike drug addiction, sexual compulsion often goes unnoticed by the patient’s social circle, who needs to seek help on their own. “The big problem is the low adherence to treatment. About 80% drop out”, he says. “Of course, sadness and remorse come later, but the feeling of pleasure caused by sex is much more powerful for the memory than the negative memory. It’s just like drugs.
There is no cure for sex addiction, but there is a way to control it. The treatment is carried out by psychiatrists, who assess the patient’s suspicion and give the diagnosis, then prescribe drugs that help control the excessive search for sex – usually antidepressants with anxiolytic properties.
In parallel, the patient needs to undergo psychotherapy sessions. The therapeutic line most indicated by specialists is cognitive-behavioral, but other approaches, such as psychodynamics, can help patients whose sexual compulsion is related to problems such as sexual abuse suffered in childhood.
The treatment works like training, explains psychologist Priscilla de Castro, who specializes in sexual disorders. “Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps individuals to perceive themselves in a functional way and question their behavioral distortions. The training consists of strategies and tools that we insert into that individual’s life to help them overcome their difficulties. give new meaning to their behaviors”, she says.
Professor of psychiatry Marco Scanavino, who coordinates an outpatient clinic specializing in sexual disorders at USP, says that psychotherapy also helps the patient deal with mood swings and triggers that can jeopardize the treatment. “It’s as if there was a greater stimulus for the affective part of sexuality at the expense of the genital experience”, he says. “Sex is extremely important and beneficial for mental health. Therefore, what we seek is not abstinence, but a greater balance in practice.”
*With information from the article published on 04/06/2021