Although the interaction between sex and mental health is well studied, a new study suggests there may be a complex correlation between seemingly disparate disorders.

In a new article published in the Reports from the Journal of Affective DisordersA group of Italian psychology researchers say they have found a correlation between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depressive symptoms, hypomania (the clinical term for “mania” or high energy), and hypersexuality, or a preoccupation. intense about sexual things. thoughts and actions, and that people who experience these sets of symptoms may use sex as a kind of “self-medication.”

Study co-authors Giacomo Ciocca, an assistant professor of sexual psychology at the Sapienza University of Rome, and Davide Doroldi, a clinical psychologist, said PsyPost who were inspired to investigate the possible link after observing higher rates of hypersexuality among people with ADHD.

Using an online questionnaire with subjects recruited on social networks, Italian psychologists assessed ADHD symptoms and the emergence of hypersexuality in 309 participants aged between 18 and 79 years. They discovered, fascinatingly, that respondents’ hypersexual thoughts and acts seemed to increase when they were either depressed, manic or in mildly psychotic states.

A key factor, as previous studies have shown, appears to be impulsivity, which, of course, people with ADHD and hypersexuality struggle with. However, when experiencing depression or hypomania, people may also use sex to calm themselves or relieve stress, and not just out of impulsiveness, scientists argue.

“Strong negative emotions and difficulties in emotional regulation trigger sexual behavior, which is used as an emotion-based coping strategy,” the researchers said. PsyPost. “People with ADHD, in part due to the problems derived from this disease, are particularly vulnerable to dysphoric emotional states.”

Notably, the study was heavily biased toward women, as more than 67 percent of respondents in the sample were women. While this reflects the need for more research into this relationship, it also sheds light on ADHD and hypersexuality in women, both of which have been understudied, stigmatized, and misunderstood for years.

As the Italians pointed out PsyPost, hypersexuality “often characterizes many psychopathological conditions” and is “a consequence of some major mental illnesses.” However, in the case of this new research, it may also be a type of coping mechanism, which could not only reduce the pathologization of such behaviors and thoughts, but could also help the psychiatric community better understand how People living with ADHD experience the world too.

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By Sam