Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Primary research

Sexual obsessions and suicidal behaviors in patients with mood disorders, panic disorder and schizophrenia

Liliana Dell’Osso1, Giulia Casu2, Marina Carlini3, Ciro Conversano1, Paola Gremigni2 and Claudia Carmassi1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Via Roma 67, 56127, Pisa, Italy

2 Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

3 Azienda Sanitaria Locale Massa, Pisa, Italy

For all author emails, please log on.

Annals of General Psychiatry 2012, 11:27  doi:10.1186/1744-859X-11-27

Published: 30 October 2012



The topic of sexual obsessions as a psychiatric symptom has not been well investigated. The aim of this study was twofold: 1) to explore the presence of sexual obsessions in patients with mood disorders (n=156), panic disorder (n=54) and schizophrenia (n=79), with respect to non-psychiatric subjects (n=100); 2) to investigate the relationship between sexual obsessions and suicidal behaviors, taking into account socio-demographic variables ad mental disorders.


289 psychiatric patients with mood disorders, panic disorder or schizophrenia, were recruited at the Italian University departments of psychiatry along with 100 non-psychiatric subjects, who presented for a routine eye exam at the ophthalmology department of the same Universities. The assessments included: the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR, the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), the Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Self-Report (OBS-SR), for sexual obsession, and the Mood Spectrum-Self Report lifetime version (MOODS-SR). Suicidality was assessed by means of 6 items of the MOODS-SR.


Sexual obsessions were more frequent in schizophrenia (54.4%), followed by mood disorders (35.9%). Among schizophrenia patients, males reported more sexual obsessions than females (P<0.01). Subjects who were more likely to report suicidal behaviors (suicidal ideation, plans and attempts) were female (adjusted OR=1.99), patients with mental disorders, specifically mood disorders (adjusted OR=11.5), schizophrenia (adjusted OR=3.7) or panic disorder (adjusted OR=2.9), and subjects who reported lifetime sexual obsessions (adjusted OR= 3.6). Sexual obsessions remained independently associated with all aspects of suicidal behaviors. Age, education, marital and employment status were not related to suicidal behaviors.


Special attention should be given to investigate and establish effective strategies of treatment for sexual obsessions, especially those with comorbid mood disorders or schizophrenia.

Sexual obsessions; Suicidal ideation; Suicidal plans; Suicidal attempt; Mood disorders; Panic disorder; Schizophrenia