Is Sex Addiction Connected to Serotonin Levels?
What many people don’t realize about different addictions is that they often have similar causes and roots. Addiction can come in a number of forms from substance abuse to gambling to sex addiction. Whatever an individual is addicted to, their habit is usually related to brain chemistry and how their brain reacts to a certain substance or activity.
Drugs and certain activities like sex can change your brain chemistry so that you experience a chemical reward. Chemicals like dopamine and serotonin are released in high levels in the brain when you are involved in an addictive activity. These chemicals are related to feelings of pleasure, reward and regulating mood which means that a person relies on them to experience joy and happiness.
People who develop sex addictions often have lower levels of serotonin and dopamine in their brain due to past experiences of abuse and trauma. They may feel inclined to use sex as a way to temporarily raise the levels of these chemicals or escape feelings of pain and depression. A person with an abusive past may also become addicted to pornography because it gives them a quick and very strong “chemical hit” to their brain.
Those who become addicted to sex may benefit from receiving treatment that addresses low serotonin levels. Medications like antidepressants may be useful in helping an individual resolve some of the issues in their brain chemistry that may be causing them seek out sex as a reward. Other more lasting sources of improved serotonin levels such exercise, good nutrition and meditation may also be helpful in treatment.
Sex addicts can never completely remain abstinent from their addiction but they need to learn how to find other, healthier ways to experience a feeling of reward without relying on sex.