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Bipolar Hypersexuality

Many people with bipolar disorder must contend with hypersexuality, a heightened interest in sex that cannot be easily controlled.

Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder marked by sharp changes in mood and energy levels. Patients can go from a manic, elated state to severe depression. Managing everyday life becomes quite difficult.

During a manic episode, people are often restless and easily distracted. They may be extremely happy or overly agitated. Their thoughts may race and they might have trouble sleeping.

They may also have a significant increase in sex drive that can’t be satisfied and engage in impulsive, risky sexual behaviors, such as unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners or strangers, and extramarital affairs. They may also masturbate or use pornography more frequently.

In contrast, bipolar patients may lose interest in sex completely during depressed episodes.

Hypersexuality usually subsides when bipolar disorder is managed with medication and therapy. During depressed episodes, bipolar patients may lose interest in sex completely.

Bipolar hypersexuality has not been widely studied, but research suggests that it affects 25% to 80% of patients who have mania. It also appears to affect women more than men.

While hypersexuality can be a symptom of bipolar disorder, it isn’t always addressed by healthcare providers. It’s important for patients to bring up the subject themselves, if it’s a problem. Partners are also encouraged to seek counseling, as bipolar hypersexuality can put great strain on relationships.


Solovitch, Sara

“Opening the door on hypersexuality”

(Spring 2009)

Rodriguez, Diana

“Bipolar Disorder: When Sexuality Is in Overdrive”


Connell, Kelly, PhD

“Sexuality and Bipolar Disorder”

National Institute of Mental Health

“What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?”

“What is bipolar disorder?”

Hatch, Linda, PhD

“Bipolar Hypersexuality of Sex Addiction?”

(Last reviewed: April 13, 2013)