Understanding and Managing Compulsive Behaviors

Millions of people suffer from at least one of the, compulsive behaviors, Compulsive shopping, Compulsive eating, Hoarding, Compulsive sexual behavior.

—often, even when the individual wishes they could stop—despite the fact that the act triggers negative outcomes, leads to interpersonal conflicts, or damages mental health.

Common activities that can develop into compulsions include, compulsive  shopping, hoarding, eating, gambling, sex, and exercise. Though some behaviors are easier to over-indulge in than others, in reality, nearly any behavior has the potential of becoming a, compulsive behavior. Some people even talk compulsively, for instance.

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There are also obsessive compulsive disorder, in which a compulsive person performs certain behaviors to relieve underlying anxiety or other negative emotions. A well-known example is a person who checks and rechecks everything—if the stove is turned off, for instance, or if the door is locked.

These behaviors rarely decrease anxiety in the long run; in most cases, they only provide temporary relief. In extreme cases, compulsive behaviors start to take over the person’s work, home, and social life, at the expense of normal activities.

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How are, Compulsive Behaviors, and addictions connected?

Compulsive behaviors, have a genetic effect and are often seen in identical twins. I know 17 year old identical twin girls who came into the foster care system at 4 years old and have had trauma. I attributed their, compulsive behaviors, to genes from their biological parents and environment from their early years in foster care. They started, compulsive behaviors, like stealing  from about 5 years old, as they grew older that transformed into, compulsive shoplifting, then they started running away and couldn’t stop, now they are compulsively, hoarding.

Compulsion behaviors,  often arise after stressful events, trauma, or abuse as we have seen in our study of addictions. When people engage in, compulsive behaviors, they become trapped in a pattern of repetitive actions or senseless thinking from which it can be difficult to break free.

Treatment is often key for overcoming, compulsive behaviors.

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How does normal behavior turn into,  Compulsive Behaviors?

As far as the brain is concerned our rewards are reward important,  so regardless of whether it comes from a chemical or an experience and you know that there’s a
reward and people who indulge in , compulsive behaviors,  like gambling,  eating,  sex, and shopping,  become trapped in the reward system of dopamine.
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Types of, Compulsive Behaviors

Compulsive behaviors come in many forms, all of which can be quite debilitating or even dangerous.

Hoarding, for instance, are those who are unable to part with even the most worthless possessions. Many hoarders find the act of purging so distressful that they live under extremely crowded and potentially harmful conditions.

Compulsive Hoarding
Compulsive Hoarding

Compulsive Hoarding,   is a psychiatric disorder which involves the accumulation of personal possessions to the point at which these accumulations interfere with your quality of life to a significant degree. The acquisition of “things” and failure to throw away unneeded objects can result in only mild symptoms of a cluttered home to a home which is too unsanitary for healthy living. At the current time, it’s thought that between two and six percent of the population is living with some degree of hoarding disorder.

  • Compulsively taking selfies and posting on social media
  • Compulsive sexual behavior or sexual addiction

What negative triggers enable, Compulsive Behaviors like, Hoarding.

The brain tricks us into thinking that we need the reward so we perform the, compulsive behavior, to re up the Dopamine
I know that as humans we move towards pleasure and away from pain. In my role as parent with kids who have, compulsive behaviors. These behaviors are cemented because they engage the reward centers of the brain.

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How does one break that reward system for, Compulsive Behaviors?

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Sex Addiction Treatment

Let’s look at compulsive sexual behavior, or sexual addiction. Sexual addiction, is represented by, compulsive behavior,  in commonly available sexual practices, such as

  • Attending strip clubs,
  • Compulsive masturbation,
  • Paying for sex through prostitution,
  • Excessive use of pornography,
  • and repeated engagement in extramarital affairs.

Compulsive sexual behavior, otherwise known as sexual addiction, is an emerging psychiatric disorder that has significant medical and psychiatric consequences. Until recently, very little empirical data existed to explain the biological, psychological, and social risk factors that contribute to this condition. In addition, clinical issues, such as the natural course and best practices on treating sexual addictions, have not been formalized. Despite this absence, the number of patients and communities requesting assistance with this problem remains significant. This article will review the clinical features of compulsive sexual behavior and will summarize the current evidence for psychological and pharmacological treatment.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2945841/

 

Dr Ahia What forms of, Sex Addiction Treatment, would you administer to someone suffering from, compulsive sexual addiction?

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How would you treat a youth that had the compulsion for taking selfies or even shoplifting?

 

Additional Resources for, Compulsive Behaviors

https://blog.myhelps.us/childhood-sexual-trauma-and-addiction/

Drug and Alcohol Treatment for Women with Trauma

Call me an Addict: Child Abuse Statistics P3

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childabuseandneglect/acestudy/index.html

You’re not imagining it: the rich really are hoarding economic growth

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/8/8/16112368/piketty-saez-zucman-income-growth-inequality-stagnation-chart

https://www.verywellmind.com/all-about-hoarding-and-connection-to-ocd-2510518#targetText=Pathological%20or%20compulsive%20hoarding%20is,%2C%20flyers%2C%20newspapers%2C%20or%20clothes