Hypersexuality, a frequent urge for sexual activity, has long been touted as a symptom of bipolar, which is said to become apparent as individual descends into into a manic or hypomanic state.However, it’s now the subject of much debate amongst both medical professionals and those with the condition.Years ago, I dated a guy with undiagnosed bipolar disorder. When low, his habit of stumbling out of bed to browse porn as the kettle boiled, or spending hours trawling the profile pictures of escorts had me convinced he had some sort of addiction issues.A few months into our relationship, I dragged him off to sex therapy because of his seemingly uncontrollable behaviour. Up until the escort point, I’d thought that the other signs – the spending sprees, sporadic drug-taking, or staying up all night to work - were nothing more than foils to his ample creativity.Individuals learn to watch out for triggers that may send them spinning into an exaggerated mood state.Yet, sex for those who are bipolar can prove a real minefield.Bipolar is essentially a mood disorder which causes an individual to swing between depressed and elevated states.Some 2.4 million people are thought to be affected in the UK, with most diagnosed with either bipolar 1 -characterised by the most severe ‘up’ states, known as mania (which can also lead to hallucinations), or bipolar 2: the less severe form - defined by hypomania, a milder elevated state.
In both cases, ‘up states’ are usually followed by down or depressive periods, although the balance of up to down varies from each individual.Most can manage their disorder through medication and therapy.I’d always known he struggled with high and low moods.But it wasn’t until the intimate aspect of our relationship fell apart that I realised, perhaps selfishly, that something else was wrong.
As Suzanne Hudson, chief executive of Bipolar UK explains, it’s not so much that everyone entering an elevated mood becomes hypersexual, but that feeling ‘high’ can lead to some individuals engaging in more ‘pleasure-seeking’ behaviours - which include things like shopping, gambling and sex.“Someone about to go into hypomania usually becomes very productive,” she tells me.