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"The world comes crashing down," says Reid, "and some say, 'I'm glad that I got caught.'" There are no reliable estimates of how many people have the disorder.
"You want to make connections with other people who are also struggling, and you have to know who you are going to call, what you are going to do, and how you are going to attend to your feelings," O'Neill says.
It also could be tied to abnormal levels of the brain chemical dopamine or serotonin.
Or, problems related to attention, impulse control, or emotional regulation could also be involved.
They're caught in the act by a spouse, fired from their job, or arrested for soliciting sex from prostitutes.
For some people, the crisis brings relief from distress caused by their behavior and constant fear of being discovered.