WHO declares sex addiction as a mental illness

New Delhi: Just weeks after classifying gaming addiction as a mental illness for the first time, the World Health Organization (WHO) has put compulsive sexual behaviour in the same category.

The WHO describes the condition as “persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in a repetitive sexual behaviour.”

Dr. Valerie Voon, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said between 2% and 4% of the UK population suffer from compulsive sex behaviour. In the US, it’s estimated to affect between 3% and 6% of adults.

She added: “It is a behaviour that tends to be hidden as it’s shameful and often sex addicts don’t come forward.”

“Adding this to the WHO list is an excellent step for patients as it allows them to recognise that they are suffering with a problem — it takes it out of the shadows and they are able to seek help for it.”

Symptoms include sex becoming the “central focus” of the person’s life at the neglect of health, personal care or interests and responsibilities. The behaviour should be clear for six months or more and cause distress in personal lives.

Voon also added that sex addiction can be treated alongside other issues such as depression and anxiety.

“We hear from many people that they are unable to control their sexual behaviour,” said Ammanda Major, who is a part of relationship charity Relate, welcoming the move. “This often negatively impacts their lives and the wellbeing of partners and families.”