Sex addiction divides expert opinion, but for some people it is a very real condition that can be shameful and even “life-destroying”. As relationship charity Relate calls for help to be made available on the NHS, two sufferers speak about the impact it has had on their lives.
“At its worst, even having sex five times a day wasn’t enough.”
Mother-of-three Rebecca Barker said the compulsion took over her life in 2014 and ruined her relationship.
Her addiction meant she was constantly asking her partner for sex.
“It was literally the first thing I thought about when I woke up, I just couldn’t get it off my mind,” said the 37-year-old, originally from Tadcaster in North Yorkshire.
“I felt like everything reminded me of it. I think it was linked to my depression and the lack of serotonin. I felt like my whole body was craving it.
“It was giving me the instant hit and five minutes later I wanted it again.
“I became a hermit, I stayed at home because I felt ashamed that it was all I could think about. Even though no-one could read my mind, it still felt very uncomfortable for me to be around other people.”Ms Barker’s addiction caused serious problems in her relationship. Though her partner enjoyed the attention at first, it became insurmountable for the couple.
“At first he was fine with it but towards the end he couldn’t understand it at all. After a few months he started to raise questions about why and where it was coming from.
“He accused me of having an affair – he thought I must have been feeling guilty about it and that’s why I wanted sex with him.”
In November 2014, Ms Barker “needed a break” from the relationship and went to stay with her mother.
“When I left, I told my partner I needed to get better. He let me go, then the relationship broke down very quickly after that.
“I was under the care of a psychiatrist at the time – she kept saying she would alter my medication but she never said there were any support groups or anything.”
Ms Barker was diagnosed with depression in 2012 after the birth of her third child. She said after it intensified in 2014 she changed jobs, split up with her partner and moved to France.
“I made many lifestyle changes in order to get over the depression and the addiction and for me that has worked,” she said.