Sexual obsessions linked to suicidality

Sexual obsessions are associated with an increased risk for suicidal behaviour, especially in patients with mood disorders or schizophrenia, research shows.

The team found that sexual obsessions and suicidal behaviour were significantly more common among patients with mood disorders and schizophrenia than mentally healthy individuals.

Nevertheless, the risk for suicidal behaviour associated with sexual obsessions remained significantly increased even after adjustment for these psychiatric conditions, say Claudia Carmassi (University of Pisa, Italy) and team.

Carmassi and team write in the Annals of General Psychiatry: "Special attention should be given to investigate and establish effective strategies of treatment for sexual obsessions, especially [in] those with comorbid mood disorders or schizophrenia."

The findings come from a study of 79 patients with schizophrenia, 156 with mood disorders, 54 with panic disorders, and 100 mentally healthy individuals (controls), all of whom were aged between 18 and 60 years.

Sexual obsessions were assessed using the Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Self-Report questionnaire, and suicidality was evaluated using the Mood Spectrum-Self Report lifetime version.

The team found that schizophrenia patients had the highest prevalence of sexual obsessions, at 54.4%, followed by patients with mood disorders, at 35.9%, and those with panic disorders, at 20.4%. Controls had the lowest prevalence of sexual obsessions, at 11.1%.

Sexual obsessions were more frequent among men than women in the control group, but there were no significant gender differences among the three patient groups.

Compared with controls, the risk for suicidal behavior was greatest among mood disorder patients (odds ratio [OR]=11.5), followed by schizophrenia patients (OR=3.7), and those with panic disorder (OR=3.0).

Further analysis showed that the presence of sexual obsessions was significantly associated with an increased risk for suicidal behaviour, even after controlling for socio-demographic characteristics and the presence of mental health disorders (OR=3.6).

The researchers note that age, education level, marital status, and employment status were not associated with suicidal behavior.

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