What is sexual OCD? Extreme and unusual sexual thoughts are called sexual OCD. These are often under-reported and under-treated.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by compulsions, an uncontrollable urge to repeatedly perform an act, and obsessive-compulsive disorders (the inability to stop thinking on a particular topic or image without anxiety).
Within the realm of obsessions, a person suffering from OCD may become fixated on thoughts of violence, aggression, or even religion. Among the most troubling, however, are sexual/sex obsessions.
What Is Sexual OCD?
People who continuously experience extreme and unusual thoughts of a troubling sexual nature might suffer from misdiagnosed sexual obsession. It is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which affects a significant percentage of the 1 in 40 individuals who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Researchers have found that sexual OCD is often under-reported, under-recognized, and undertreated.
Obsessions of this nature occur equally in both men and women and can play a role in preventing or disrupting intimate relationships due to the fear, anxiety, and distress caused by the individual’s obsessive thoughts.
It can lead to anxiety, fear, and distress that can cause disruptions in intimate relationships. It is common to believe that sexual obsessions are fantasies. While fantasies can provide pleasure, obsessions focus on the fear of perversions, such as pedophilia and rape. OCD sufferers don’t want to think or have these thoughts, and they find them shameful, painful, and embarrassing.
Individuals suffering from sexual obsession have thoughts that the person is unable to ignore or find frightening because these thoughts are not typical of their own views and morals. Some people’s thoughts may seem so intense that they appear to be true, but generally, the person is aware that they aren’t true. It’s typical for someone to fear that if these troubling thoughts persist or increase, they could act upon these thoughts. Sometimes, people are aware that they won’t engage in their fears; however, the thought of having these thoughts may be seen as an act of moral violation.
Sexually intrusive thoughts may involve:
- Insane, unpleasant thoughts that are not compatible with sexual orientation
- Thinking about performing horrible inappropriate, or embarrassing actions of sexual nature, one doesn’t want to commit (including sexual interactions with children or with authority people)
- Consideration of the idea of forcing someone to perform something sexually or being ordered to perform a sexual act
- Repetition of an action or an enticing routine because of sexually disturbing thoughts
- The act of performing an action mentally or reciting a prayer to eliminate the unwelcome sexual desire
Sexual OCD: Common Obsessions
OCD can be associated with many common obsessions, such as:
- Extreme fear of being attracted towards a family member, animal or dead/inanimate object, or children
- Intense fear of sexually heinous acts
- Extreme fear of becoming violent in sex
- Images or thoughts that intrusively suggest distressing sexual acts between undesirable entities (such as children or animals) can lead to intrusive thoughts and images.
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Your physician or another mental health professional could conduct an assessment of your psychological state that may include answering questions regarding your:
- Physical and mental health, and your overall emotional well-being
- Sexual thoughts, behavior, and habits that are difficult to manage
- The use of recreational drugs as well as alcohol
- Sexual problems that are caused by your behavior
- Family, relationships, and social situation
While this condition can make it difficult to talk about, however, skilled mental health specialists assure people that help is on the way, and not treating the condition or self-treating can increase your disorder. People who think they may have a sexual obsession or have a family member who is suffering from these situations need to seek help.
Find a certified specialist in OCD who is proficient in cognition-behavioral treatment using responses and exposure, which helps the patient navigate their obsessional feelings of stress to help them build an acceptance of their feelings and lessen their obsessional behaviors. A trained health professional will work with a patient to develop strategies for them to deal with the physical and emotional turbulence of their obsessive thoughts.
As with all OCD types, sexual OCD can also be treated using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This includes treatment methods called Exposition with Response Prevention (ERP) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
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Mindful-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MBCBT) teaches patients that all people experience intrusive thoughts. People will learn that intrusive thoughts do not have power over them. They also learn that they can respond to their thoughts by engaging in compulsive behaviors. This gives their thoughts more credibility and strength and reinforces their fears and obsessive disorders. The combination of ERP and mindfulness-based CBT can make Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MBCT) a highly effective OCD treatment.
Exposition with Response Prevention (ERP) exposes patients and their anxiety to situations related to intrusive sexual thoughts. This treatment aims to help the patient avoid compulsive behavior when they are triggered by intrusive thoughts. Over time, the situations will worsen until the patient can face and overcome their worst fears. They can feel great relief from OCD symptoms once they are able to stop responding to their compulsive thoughts.
Alongside psychotherapy, certain drugs may aid in treating depression because they affect brain chemicals associated with obsessive thoughts and behavior, decreasing the chemicals “rewards” these behaviors provide when you take action or decrease sexual desires. The type of medication or treatment that is most appropriate for you based on your situation and any other mental health problems you might be suffering from. Some common medicines used to treat sexual OCD includes-
- Antidepressant. Certain types of antidepressants that treat anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder can aid in controlling obsessive sexual behaviors.
- Naltrexone. Naltrexone (Vivitrol) is commonly used to treat opiate and alcohol dependence. It also blocks the portion of your brain which feels pleasure from certain addictive behavior. It could help in the treatment of addictive behaviors like sexual compulsive sexual behavior.
- Mood Stabilizers. These medications are commonly used for bipolar disorders, but they may also help reduce compulsive sexual desires.
- Anti-androgens. These medications reduce the biological effects of sexual hormones (androgens) in males. Since they lessen sexual urges, they are frequently used by men whose impulsive sexual habits are harmful to other people.
For more information on this topic, contact Dr. Neha Mehta. You don’t have to suffer in silence now. Reach out to us and get the appropriate treatment for various mental problems.
About Dr. Neha Mehta
Dr. Neha Mehta is an RCI registered Psychologist, certified Relationship Counselor, and a well-known Child Psychologist practicing in Haryana.
Dr. Neha has 10 years of enriching experience in the field of counseling. She’s an accredited Psychologist by NIMHANS and International Affiliate with American Psychological Association.