Sex addiction, also known as hypersexuality, is not an official clinical diagnosis. Experts consider sex addiction to be a sub-disorder grouped under the umbrella category of hypersexual disorders. The first major study of sex addiction and hypersexuality was published in 1991.
Sex addiction is characterized by compulsive engagement in sexual activity, particularly sexual intercourse, despite negative consequences. Furthermore, sex addiction is often an escape from emotional, physical, or mental pain. Thus, it can mask other issues, such as depression and anxiety.
Sex addiction is defined by a pattern of self-destructive or high-risk sexual behaviors that are unfulfilling. However, sex addiction does not necessarily manifest as hypersexuality. In other words, a sex addiction diagnosis is not dependent on the type of sexual activity, the frequency of such activity, or the number of partners a sex addict has.
Sex addiction leads to a loss of self-esteem, as well as feelings of shame and guilt. Fortunately, sex addiction help is available. Inpatient sex addiction rehab and sex addiction treatment involve learning how to rebuild healthy relationships, identify sex addiction triggers, manage stress, and discover less damaging alternative behaviors.
Sources: US National Library of Medicine (NIH), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration