In this brief article, we will discuss Pornography and depression.
It’s commonly thought that viewing porn causes depression one study published in 2018, used a sample of 1,639 individuals to explore a link between depression, and porn use.
Perceived addiction to pornography as defined by a study published in the Psychology of Addictive Behavior “When someone is feeling addicted to the pornographic material whether they use it or not”.
This addictive behavior is related to different forms of psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, anger and stress.
Pornography and Depression
Many researchers have established a relationship between pornography and depression and many psychiatric conditions such as mood disorder, anxiety, and personality disorder.
Due to hyper-stimulating nature of pornographic material, it can lead to an increased level of dopamine secretion.
It changes the dopamine reward system and changes in dopamine secretion lead to depression and anxiety.
A study has established that individuals who watch more porn show higher depressive symptoms, have a lower quality of life and compromised mental health than individuals who do not.
In another study, watching sexually explicit content is associated with depression.
It is also reported that consumers of pornographic content are at higher risk of reduced mental health and low quality of life than controls.
Also, teenagers who seek pornographic content, report more clinical features of depression as compared to peers.
Pornography is the depiction of sexual and erotic content that can be either visual or printed for the purpose of sexual arousal or excitement.
Pornography can be presented in many ways like movies, books, magazines, postcards, drawings, animations, phone calls, and video games.
In a few countries of the world, pornography is legal; however, in few, it is restricted and illegal.
Further, pornography is also categorized based on activity, participant characteristics, and sexual orientation.
Statistics about Pornography Consumption
Porn sites make 12% of total WebPages and the increase in the number of porn sites is not as much of a problem as their ease of access.
This ease of access made adolescent exposure to obscene material very convenient.
Easy access to pornographic material has raised the viewership to threatening levels affecting not only adults but also teenagers.
Results from the study reported that 84% of people between the ages of 18 – 49 have watched a pornographic film.
Further, the frequency of seeking pornography is higher among teenage girls than women aged above 25.
Results from the meta-analysis also reported that watching pornography is also linked with increased physical and verbal aggression.
Estimates about porn downloads and data transfers suggested that 34 percent of all data downloads 30%of data transfer is about pornography content.
According to Porn hub analytics, 5,517,000,000 hours of porn were consumed on the porn site.
Almost 5 to 11% of the adult population is suffering from porn addiction where they spend 11 to 13 hours watching porn every week however this number can be much higher.
Many people who watch porn cannot be considered as having porn addiction.
Porn addiction has not been categorized as a disorder by American psychological association thus there is no definition to describe it but it can be conceptualized as having a consistent and uncontrollable compulsion to watch porn.
When watching pornographic content become impulsive, uncontrollable and starts affecting normal life, a person may be known as porn addict.
A person might feel difficulty in leading a normal sexual life or excessive masturbation. Porno
Reasons for Porn Addiction
Porn addiction can be explained like any other behavioral addiction. It works on the mechanism of operant conditioning.
In operant conditioning, any favorable stimulus leads to the strengthening of precedent behavior.
Here the behavior of watching porn leads is strengthened as it leads to reward in the form of fulfillment of the most basic and pleasurable desire of sex.
It is easier than going out to find a mate for sexual pleasure.
Porn addiction can also be comorbid with other psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety or conduct disorder.
Environmental factors such as child abuse or exposure to sexual content can also contribute to this addiction.
In terms of social factors peer pressure, rejection from intimate other or social isolation can enhance the person’s likelihood to be addicted to porn.
Porn addiction can also have a biological basis where a person can have a genetic predisposition to sensation-seeking behavior or have a higher level of sex hormones such as testosterone or estrogen that leads to watching porn excessively.
Effects of Porn Addiction
Porn consumption affects the brain and body in several ways.
In long term consumption, pornographic addiction can equally be problematic for a person as other behavioral addictions because it also has direct impacts on a person’s psychological and social life thus pornography and depression become co-occurring problems.
Porn addiction leads to sexual dysfunction where a person is unable to have or maintain an erection or have a premature discharge.
Watching porn per se might not affect intimate partner relationship but porn addiction enhances sexual desires to the extent that become problematic thus leading to relationship difficulties and infidelity.
A person might become emotionally detached and in pursuit of sexual dominance might end up hurting his partner.
Porn addiction leads to decreased patience for sexual contact resulting in sex crimes.
Porn addiction leads to social isolation where a person withdraws from social activities and starts lying and deceiving others.
Elaborate sexual fantasies of porn addicts make them sexually objectify women and have disrespectful behavior towards them.
Pornography and depression are very real issues now, which are linked to one another
Depression is common serious illness characterized by the feeling of sadness and he loss interest in the daily life activities.
Depression affects normal functioning of the individual.
For depression to be diagnosed clinically a person needs have any three of the following symptoms for 2 weeks with constant depressed mood and loss of pleasure in activities:
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation
- Increased fatigue or loss of energy
- Suicidal ideation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling of worthlessness
Porn Addiction in Children and Teenagers
Being in abundance and easy to access children and teenagers are more prone to develop porn addiction in this era than they were in the past.
This early porn addiction is traumatizing for children and teens leading to severe emotional disturbance and impaired sexual life as an adult.
Hence, these problems related to pornography and depression proves to be detrimental for them
To help prevent porn addiction in children and teens it is necessary to maintain open communication with them.
Parents should educate them about sex in a proper way despite letting them to be misinformed through unreliable means like porn.
It is important to talk about pornography and depression with children and teens to get them aware about healthy sexual life as adults and could save themselves from pornography and depression.
Treatment for Porn Addiction
Pornography is stigmatized by many social and religious groups which makes it difficult for individuals suffering from the problem to come out and seek therapy.
Porn addiction is difficult to diagnose as there are no diagnostic criteria like other psychological disorders by the American psychological association.
However, therapies used for other addiction has been proven effective for treating pornography and depression.
Studies have shown a good prognosis for porn addiction after the administration of such therapies.
Results of study conducted in 2008 showed that after administration of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) porn viewing reduced to 94% and even in the follow up after three-month porn viewing was 86% less than baseline.
Cognitive behavior therapy and counseling have also shown promising results in treating porn addiction.
Individual, family or group counseling is recommended by therapists based on the intensity of pornography and depression.
In a counseling session, a counselor might help them to understand the initial causes of the addiction in help him to change with healthy behavior.
Other than psychotherapy and counseling some drugs have also been proven effective to reduce porn addiction and symptoms associated with such as Neltrexone.
It is often used by alcoholics and opioid addicts to help them with withdrawal symptoms.
As established earlier, an increased level of male hormones that is testosterone can contribute to porn addiction; it can be reduced by taking anti-androgenic tablets which reduces such hormones.
Anti-depressants such as Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or SSRI can also help reduce sexual urges.
These types of drugs can be beneficial for both symptoms of pornography and depression.
Why this blog about pornography and depression is important?
As discussed above watching pornography can lead to poor mental health.
Majority of the youngster’s and adults watch porn and are unaware of its side effects on the brain and mental health.
Pornography can not only cause physical health issues like erectile dysfunctions but also linked with mental health.
It is concluded that pornography and depression are interlinked so, it is important to understand its channel to cause depression as well as how to overcome it.
Your psychologist can help you to overcome the habit of watching pornography.
Understand that you are not alone, download a good accountability program and avoid all kinds of media that you use for watching pornography.
Please feel free to comment in the comments section below!
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
FAQ about Pornography and depression
1. What is porn addiction?
Porn addiction is excessive involvement in pornographic content that gratifies sexual urges and at the same time have adverse effects on physical and psychological health and negatively affects social life.
When porn viewing constitutes the major part of life resulting in extensive sexual desires and fantasies which leads to constrained sexual relationships with an intimate partner, and have a detrimental effect on other relationships at home and work, a person can consider himself porn addict.
2. Am I a porn addict?
Porn addiction has not been characterized as a disorder by American psychological association thus there is no defined criterion to assess an individual’s porn addiction.
A person can be considered a porn addict when watching porn start negatively affecting physical, psychological and social aspects of their life.
Thus a person can be a better judge of himself as to what are the pros and cons of watching in his life.
If cons out weight the cons, the person is porn addict especially when pornography and depression are co-occurring.
3. What are the effects of porn addiction?
Effects of porn addiction vary from person to person but following are effects commonly reported by porn addicts:
– Withdrawing from social activities
– Lying and deceiving others
– Experiencing mood swings
– Feeling irritable and frustrated
– Feeling anxiety & frustration
– Pornography and depression
Sexually Objectifying other People
– Being intensive about sexually harmful behavior
– Disrespecting other people needs of privacy
– Judging others based on sexuality
Engaging in Risky and Unhealthy Behaviors
– Inadvertent sexual fantasies
– Aggressive sexual relationship
– Premature ejaculation
– Erectile dysfunction
4. How can I overcome my porn addiction?
Pornography and depression can be overcome with motivation and determination.
A person can seek professional help to overcome this addiction and can go for therapy or counseling.
This addiction can also be overcome by having self-control as many online treatment programs support porn addiction and apps through which a person can keep track of their behavior.
A person needs to evaluate how watching is negatively affecting their lives and with that, a person needs to examine their pattern of watching porn, their reason that leads them to watch porn, the purpose porn fulfills in their lives and the other way through which this purpose can be fulfilled.
By taking control of one’s own life, building positive strengths and acquiring new skills a person can overcome Pornography and depression.
What we recommend for depression
If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.