Q: I'm obsessed with hooking up. I'm out on the town night after night. I'm miserable if I have to go home alone, and miserable when I don't. How do I stop?
EVELYN Q., SYRACUSE, N.Y.
A: It sounds as though you may be struggling with what's popularly called sex addiction. (Charlie Sheen and Kanye West say they've battled it.) And although the behavior is not yet recognized as a diagnosable condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, what researchers are calling "hypersexual disorder" may soon be.
There's a lot of research accumulating on this compulsive-addictive problem. We know that it can be a form of self-medication - often in an attempt to ease depression or anxiety. And once this behavior takes control of your life, it interferes with relationships, your work and your physical health. Sex addiction is associated with job loss and dissolution of an ongoing relationship.
Your best bet is to get help so you can identify the feelings that fuel your actions. Look up "Sex Addicts Anonymous" online for more info. Also, cognitive behavioral therapy may offer you ways to change your behavior, and talk therapy can let you explore your subconscious motivations.
We urge you to combine those solutions with a daily workout: Go for 10,000 steps a day, or 45 to 60 minutes on the bike, in the pool or jogging. Add strength training two to three days a week, too. You'll dispel a lot of stress, ease depression and anxiety and respect your body more.
You also may be surprised by how altering your diet can ease depression and change your attitude about yourself. You can reduce bodywide inflammation by eliminating fatty and processed foods, excess alcohol and added sugars and sugar syrups. It really will help transform your outlook.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.