In order to take good care of people’s mental health, it is necessary to be aware that behavioral addictions can be much more common than you imagine. In fact, you may be an addicted person but have never considered it as a mental health problem before. Most people think that an addiction is only related to the use of substances or medications … But in reality, you can also have a behavioral addiction that can put your mental health at risk. People can get hooked on anything, like sex or the Internet , two increasingly common addictions in our society.

Some activities are so normal that it is hard to believe that people can become addicted to them.  The addiction to the behavior becomes so strong that the person continues to participate in the activity despite the negative consequences. They may also experience withdrawal, or negative emotions and other symptoms, when they are unable to participate in the activity. This is so because behavioral addictions follow the same pattern as substance-based addictions, causing problems in many areas of the affected person’s life.

Types of addictive behavior

Not all addictions are recognized by mental health experts, but it is necessary to recognize them to know what the most common behavioral addictions are and in case they happen to you, seek professional help as soon as possible. The most common addictions are: gambling, sex, Internet, shopping, video games, food, exercise , work, tattoos, love or porn.

Signs that you have a behavioral addiction

Understanding the addictive process and warning signs can help you tell the difference between addictive behavior, problem behavior that is not an addiction, and normal behavior that is not problematic or healthy. The warning signs are:

    • Spending a lot of time involved in the behavior, thinking about or organizing the behavior (or recovering from negative consequences)
    • Relying on behavior as a way to deal with emotions and “feel normal”
    • Continuing the behavior despite the physical and / or mental harm
    • Having trouble stopping that behavior despite wanting to stop or not wanting to stop it anymore
    • Neglecting work, school, or family to engage in the behavior more often
    • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms (eg, depression , irritability) when trying to stop that behavior
  • Minimize or hide the extent of the problem

Living with a behavioral addiction

It can be difficult to admit to yourself, much less anyone else, that you have a problem, and it can be even more difficult when the problem is misunderstood and cannot be taken seriously by friends and family. Understanding the stages of change will help you be kinder to yourself if you are not ready to seek help.

If you feel like you don’t want to seek help to overcome your behavioral addiction right now, focus on making sure your behavior doesn’t harm those around you or yourself. Consider learning more about the behavior and ways to manage it. Even if you don’t want to tell other people about your problem, try not to lie to the people who are closest to you.

What to keep in mind

Sometimes people with behavioral addictions get tired of the cost their behavior takes on their lives and those of those around them. They may also suffer losses that seem too great to bear, such as money problems or relationship problems. What once seemed exciting and satisfying becomes an embarrassing and difficult burden to manage.

Fortunately for those who suffer from behavioral addictions, treatments that have been developed to treat substance dependencies have been used successfully to treat behavioral addictions. Addiction professionals are developing competencies to treat a variety of addictions, and there are clinics that specialize in treating behavioral addictions.  They can also benefit from seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist , who is trained to help people overcome emotional difficulties and make changes in their lives. 

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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