The World Health Organisation (WHO) has flagged sex addiction as a mental health disorder. The decision by the agency comes a month after they controversially listed gaming as mental health disorder. According to the WHO, a person is addicted to sex when they show "persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in repetitive sexual behaviour."
Sex becomes the "central focus" for a sex addict leaving behind other personal responsibilities and interests. They continue the same pattern even when they derive no pleasure out of it. To be diagnosed with the disorder, the person must be suffering from it for at least six months and should be facing distress due to it.
Valerie Voon, a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the main professional organisation of psychiatrists told The Sun that in the United Kingdom approximately 2 and 4 per cent of people suffer from sex addiction. According to the report, 3 to 6 per cent of the US population is also expected to have the condition.
Voon said, "Adding this to the WHO list is an excellent step for patients as it allows them to recognise that they are suffering from a problem. It is a behaviour that tends to be hidden as it's shameful and often sex addicts don't come forward. It takes it out of the shadows and they are able to seek help for it."
While this is the first time WHO has stated sex addiction as a mental disorder, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has a listing on the range of sexual compulsions under 'Sexual Disorder Not Otherwise Specified'. It is not sure if the British National Health Service (NHS) will also include sex addiction to its list of mental illnesses.
WHO describes itself as a specialised agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. The WHO added sex addiction to their 11th edition of its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11) which was released on June 18. The ICD is WHO's tool for diagnosing, managing and treating various physical and mental disorders.