Depression and Sexual Addiction: What is the Connection?

Woman on the beach struggling with addiction

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

There is a common misconception that individuals who struggle with addiction simply have a lack of “self-control” or tendency to overindulge.

AbusedHowever, the reality is that addiction is a complex disorder that often involves many different factors, including genetics, neurobiology, environment, family history, and much more. An individual who struggles with an addiction often repetitively engages in a dangerous cycle of behaviors in spite of negative consequences.

While this may be hard for outsides to understand, addicts often persist in their behaviors for some reason that is benefiting them.

For example, underlying mental illness is often associated and connected with addiction. A person struggling with substance abuse or alcoholism may have co-occurring mental illnesses, such as depression, that are left undiagnosed and untreated.


An individual who is struggling with severe depression or anxiety may turn to substances, such as illicit drugs, prescription drugs or alcohol, as an attempt to “cope” with the symptoms they may be experiencing.

Any type of addiction can develop alongside underlying depression, whether to substances, alcohol, or sexual behaviors, and as long as a person is untreated for this mental illness, the addiction will continue to serve a purpose. An individual addicted to sex and who is also dealing with underlying depression may continue on in their behaviors until the depression is addressed and effectively treated.

Screen+Shot+2015-10-15+at+5.01.13+PMA sexual addiction that is fueled by underlying depression cannot be resolved until the depression has been acknowledged and treated as well.

If you or a loved one has been dealing with an addiction to sex as well as depression, it is important to seek out professional help and assistance for addressing these complex disorders.

Many treatments are available for helping an individual effectively heal from depression and finding ways to manage a sexual addiction, which can ultimately lead to greater satisfaction and freedom in life.

A combination of therapies, including behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy, may be helpful in treating both the depression and sexual addiction. Talk with someone you trust to begin your road to recovery today.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

If you have been in recovery for sexual addiction, did you also struggle with depression? How did you address this in your treatment and with professional assistance?

Crystal Karges photo

About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on December 9, 2015
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