Behavioral Addictions and DSM 5 Disorders

Behavioral Addictions and DSM 5 Disorders


  • Introduction

Several behaviors produce short term feelings of wellbeing that may trigger habit forming behaviors despite knowledge of adverse effects like one losing control over the behavior. Losing control over the behavior is the core defining concept of hard substance dependence or addiction. This similarity has thus given rise to the concept of behavioral addiction. Thus in this research we focus on several concepts that may bring light about this behaviors including; symptoms of some of the behavioral addiction disorders, evidence as to why they should be considered addiction disorders and evidence as to why they should not be considered addiction disorders and lastly try to identify any dsm 5 disorders that may share symptoms and that may also explain these thoughts, urges or behaviors that persist despite negatively affecting health, job or relationships.

  • Symptoms Of Behavioral Addictions

Behavioral addictions incorporate sex addiction, internet addiction, and video gaming addictions, eating addiction and shopping addiction. The most common behavioral addictions affecting the contemporary youth include sex addition and video gaming addiction (Thorat, 2018). This research will focus on the two addiction paying attention to their symptoms and effects not only to the youth but also the general population.

Video Gaming Addiction Symptoms

Technological advancement came with the development of online gaming which became a new hobby to most people. One of the main symptoms of digital gaming is excessive use of the internet most online games require internet connection in order for one to play (Robbins & Clark, 2015). Another symptom is violent behavior especially a person when interrupted without consent. Video game addicts spend too much time thinking about games, they feel down and bored when unable to play, they require excessive time playing in order to feel satisfaction, lose of interest in other activities and they keep playing even though it caused problems (Jorgenson, Hsiao & Yen, 2016). Furthermore, most of them do not wish to discuss the fact that they spend excessive time on these games. They also spend most of their time playing as a way of escaping their feeling of discomfort or worry.

Sex Addiction Symptoms

Sexual addiction is a condition in which individuals cannot manage their sexual behavior. Persistent sexual thoughts affect their ability to work, maintain relationships and fulfil their daily activities (Billieux et al., 2015). Their thoughts are mostly dominated by sexual activity and interactions and if they become uncontrollable, the person is likely to have difficulties of functioning in social situations. Some of the symptoms of sexual addiction include; increased desire to masturbate, seeking of multiple sex partners, hiding behaviors especially the act of viewing pornographic videos, persistent use of pornographic literature and feeling of guilt after having sex (Petry, Zajac & Ginley, 2018). A sexual addict is also likely show some sense of guilt and shame, or spent excessive time indulging in sex. Some also give up social or work related interactions or recreational activities to indulge in sex.


  • Evidence And Rationale As To Why The Two Should Be Considered Addiction Disorders

A behavior is only considered addictive if the person suffering from it loses control over it and does anything satisfy the urge. Thege et al. (2015) allude that intense sexual behavior is the excessive engrossment of sexual desires in a person’s mind which becomes difficult to control. This behavior mostly causes distress and can affect people’s health, job relationships or other aspects of their life. Sexual addiction is considered a disorder due to several reasons. Individuals affected usually experience repeated sexual desires and feel depressed. They mostly prefer using sex as a way of dealing with stress. Also, sexual addicts more often try to nub their behavior at some point their life but fail. Kraus, Voon and Potenza (2016) conducted a research and interviewed several participants in mental health facilities in which all the patients involved were trying to fix their behavior on sexual issues. More than a of the patients half percentage were accurately categorized to have sex addiction disorder. At least more than tenth of the patients involved in the study lost their jobs at least more than once. The researchers concluded that excess sexual activity was considered an addiction disorder.

In another research thousands of participants completed a checklist of symptoms that was used to diagnose internet gaming disorder  (Grant, Brewer & Potenza, 2006). The researchers proposed nine symptoms associated with video game addiction disorder: spending too much time thinking about games, feeling depressed and anxious when unable to play, increased playtime to keep excitement high, inability to reduce playing, loss of interest in other activities, playing despite knowing the risks, keeping others from knowing how much they, playing to escape feeling of discomfort and risking friends and opportunities due to games. Using symptom as well as scientists and experts recommendations, participants were diagnosed with internet gaming disorder if they exhibited five or more of the symptoms. Furthermore, Studies suggest that a substantial number of people who play video games are at risk for developing video game addiction disorder (Grant et al., 2010).

  • Why This Two Should Not Be Considered Disorders

Few researchers have failed to believe that there is sufficient evidence to support the definition of sexual addiction as a disorder and refuted to support the initial findings (Grant et al., 2006). Researchers also conducted a study on a number men and women, who experienced the symptoms of   sexual addiction (Thege et al., 2015). Unlike drug addicts, the sex addicts in this study did not find the sexual scenes more compelling than other images. They looked like normal people with high sex drive and there was no evidence indicating that they were different. A disorder such bipolar is something an individual looses complete control over and has nothing to do on the event of its attack. Sexual addiction should not be categorized as a disorder since as its effect may be long term and may not require special treatment like surgery to control. However, it requires a few weeks of brain reconstruction through counseling to correct the problem. A disorder like bipolar cannot be corrected by counseling.

  • Other DSM 5 Disorders That May Have Similar Symptoms
    • Substance Related And Addictive Disorder

The essential feature of behavioral addictions is the failure to resist sudden and strong desires of acting into temptations of performing an act that is harmful to themselves or others. Behavioral addictions resemble substance use disorders (Billieux et al., 2015). Individuals with substance addictions report difficulties of resisting the urge to use drugs. Behavioral and substance addictions have many similarities and share adverse consequences. Many people with behavioral addictions experience a strong urge of indulging in the behavior as the individuals with substance disorders do prior to substance use. Additionally, these behaviors often reduce anxiety and result in temporary excitement similar to substance abuse.

  • Bipolar Disorder

A bipolar disorder is associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to maniacs high. Its symptoms include very high energy relating to that of with someone under substance abuse (Thorat, 2018). There is also the loss of interest in daily activities relating to that of a person with sex addiction who may forfeit daily activities like playing with friends. This enables them to satisfy their sexual urge. They also tend to lose motivation a feeling that is common among online video gamers who is always lose the end hatching low self-esteem. Common to substance abuse addicts, bipolar patients also suffer risk of physical wellbeing and higher rate of relationship problems. This is because individuals with high sex drive may fail to match their partner’ with the same level of drive resulting to relationship problems. Furthermore people addicted to substance abuse most likely fail to maintain a relationship since they mostly value their satisfaction more than anything (Kraus, Voon & Potenza, 2016). In most cases financial and marital problems are common in behavioral addiction. Depression also a common symptom of bipolar disorder and an obvious symptom for those with sex addiction,


Behavioral addiction can or cannot be classified as a disorder depending on the subject state of mind. A person with high interest in online gaming but reserves time for the rest of his activities is not included among people with disorders. Impulsive disorders qualify as disorders since the patients tend to lose control over their ability to resist. Thus, they need to be handled with care and secure understanding from the community. Some of these disorders like substance addiction, sex addiction, and online gaming addiction are better taken care off before they become a problem. Proper regulations of certain activities sparked by the internet such as easy availability of pornographic materials can help curb the disorders.


















Billieux, J., Schimmenti, A., Khazaal, Y., Maurage, P., & Heeren, A. (2015). Are we overpathologizing everyday life? A tenable blueprint for behavioral addiction research. Journal of behavioral addictions4(3), 119-123.

Grant, J. E., Brewer, J. A., & Potenza, M. N. (2006). The Neurobiology of Substance and Behavioral Addictions. CNS Spectrums11(12), 924–930. Doi: 10.1017/s109285290001511x

Grant, J. E., Potenza, M. N., Weinstein, A., & Gorelick, D. A. (2010, September). Introduction to behavioral addictions. Retrieved from

Jorgenson, A. G., Hsiao, R. C. J., & Yen, C. F. (2016). Internet addiction and other behavioral addictions. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics25(3), 509-520.

Kraus, S. W., Voon, V., & Potenza, M. N. (2016). Should compulsive sexual behavior be considered an addiction?. Addiction111(12), 2097-2106.

Petry, N. M., Zajac, K., & Ginley, M. K. (2018). Behavioral addictions as mental disorders: to be or not to be?. Annual review of clinical psychology14, 399-423.

Robbins, T. W., & Clark, L. (2015). Behavioral addictions. Current opinion in neurobiology30, 66-72.

Thege, B. K., Woodin, E. M., Hodgins, D. C., & Williams, R. J. (2015). Natural course of behavioral addictions: A 5-year longitudinal study. BMC psychiatry15(1), 4.

Thorat, N. M. (2018). A Study on Binge Eating Disorder (BED) Using Different Psychometric Variables. Journal of Addictive Behaviors, Therapy& Rehabilitation07(02). Doi: 10.4172/2324-9005.1000181


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