A behavioral addiction is a type of addiction disorder, though it’s not just about substances. Most people with a behavioral addiction do not use drugs or drink alcohol excessively. Instead, they have an obsessive need to engage in behavior that’s not necessarily satisfying but is rewarding to the individual. While a behavioral addiction can be challenging enough to overcome on its own, it is important to also know can behavioral addictions cause mental health disorders?
A person with one addiction doesn’t necessarily have another; most people with behavioral addictions do not use drugs or drink excessively.
Behavioral Addiction Is a Mental Health Disorder
Behavioral addictions are similar to substance abuse disorders, but no substance is involved. Instead, the individual has a compulsion to perform a specific activity or routine despite negative consequences. The behavior may not be pleasurable but is rewarding for the person experiencing it because it helps them cope with stressors in their lives. For example, some people eat or drink excessively when they’re bored or depressed; others engage in compulsive gambling; and still, others find themselves unable to stop texting on their smartphones even though it’s causing problems at work or home.
The most common behavioral addictions are:
- Gambling Addiction
- Sex Addiction
- Internet Addiction
- Shopping Addiction
- Video Game Addiction
- Adrenaline Addiction (Risky Behavior/Dangerous Behavior)
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) defines behavioral addictions as compulsions to perform a certain activity or routine despite negative consequences. The DSM is the standard psychiatrists and psychologists use to diagnose mental disorders. If you’re concerned that you may have an addiction, it’s important to know what your doctor will look for when they evaluate your condition.
The American Psychiatric Association publishes this manual every few years with updated information about psychiatric conditions–and in 2013, they included behavioral addictions as officially recognized diagnoses for the first time ever.
Behavioral Addiction is Based on Compulsive Behavior
When you hear the word addiction, what comes to mind? Drugs and alcohol are probably at the top of your list. But behavioral addictions can be just as destructive–and sometimes even more so.
A behavioral addiction involves an obsessive need to engage in a behavior that’s not necessarily pleasurable but is rewarding to the individual. The reward may be the feeling of being in control or winning money from gambling; it doesn’t matter if it’s fun or not–the person just needs to do it over and over again for their own self-satisfaction.
Behavioral addictions can also be treated with therapy, and medication like substance addictions do.
Behavioral Addictions Can Cause Mental Health Disorders
The most common mental health conditions that are associated with behavioral addiction are depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Other disorders that may be present include:
- Borderline personality disorder.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
People with behavioral addictions may continue to engage in their compulsion even when it has caused them significant distress or problems in their relationships, careers, or daily lives. The person may be aware that their behavior is causing problems, but they cannot stop themselves from engaging in the activity.
The compulsive behavior may be a result of a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety, or it could be due to a combination of factors, including genetics, upbringing, and environment (e.g., childhood trauma).
CTRLCare Offers Treatment For Behavioral Addiction in New Jersey
It’s important to understand that a person with one addiction doesn’t necessarily have another; most people with behavioral addictions do not use drugs or drink alcohol excessively. In fact, many are highly functional in their professional lives. The fact that they can maintain their careers while struggling with these habits shows that the term “addiction” is not always accurate when applied to these behaviors.