Is there a link between watching pornography and depression?
Pornography is often used to enhance sexuality, increase intimacy, relieve stress, and/or explore the world of porn. Have you ever thought that this activity could also cause depression?
There are many reasons people watch pornographic material. These reasons can range from increasing intimacy with a partner to self-exploration and even boredom.
Even though pornography is often a controversial topic, it has been shown to have certain health benefits.
Sociology published a study that found pornography could provide education value. Carnegie Mellon University also found that porn viewing reduces stress in males.
However, watching porn does not have a negative impact on your mental health.
Research has also shown a correlation between pornography and depression symptoms.
Here are the findings of experts and research.
Is watching porn a way to make you feel better?
The brain’s reward system is a major focus of scientific discussion about pornography.
Any pornography can trigger the release of dopamine, a chemical that stimulates pleasure and well-being.
Some research has shown that viewing pornography can also be linked to depression.
The studies on this topic are inconsistent, inconclusive and limited. The existing studies suggest that depression and pornography consumption have a complicated relationship.
Here are some recent research findings:
- A study in 2019 found that adults who ate porn increased their risk of developing depression. The rise in depression was affected by whether viewers considered pornography “problematic.” We’ll get into this distinction soon.
- An 2018 study of adolescents showed that porn viewing may lead to depression symptoms. However, the authors of the study concluded that watching pornography may not be the only reason for young people’s depression.
Research has shown that pornography viewing is not harmful for many adults.
These findings aside, it is clear that watching pornography does not have a negative impact on mental health or cause depression.
You may still be wondering, “What if I have depression?” Can pornography use worsen my symptoms?
Paul Greene, PhD, a clinical psychologist who is also the director of Manhattan Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, says that “Pornography doesn’t inherently worsen depression.”
He adds that if someone is unable to maintain relationships or engage in other mood-boosting activities, such as exercise or socializing, then it can indirectly make their depression worse.
Potential mental health effects of pornography use
Experts believe that pornography can lead to:
- High levels of distress
- Anxiety episodes or generalized anxiety
- Avoidance of emotional attachment and detachedness
- Feelings of loneliness
- Anger and irritability
- Sensitivity to sexual pleasure has declined
New research suggests that the effects of porn may not be caused by the content, but viewers’ perceptions. The mental health impact of porn is related to the viewer’s perception of it.
If you think you shouldn’t watch porn, but you can’t stop watching it, you might be more likely to experience symptoms of psychological distress.
This is especially true if pornography contradicts your ethical, religious, or spiritual beliefs.
Gender also has an impact on the possible effects of pornography consumption upon mental health.
A 2018 study, for example, examined the relationship between attachment styles (and pornography) and sexual behavior. The study found that higher levels of pornography were associated with greater relationship satisfaction in men. However, the opposite was true for the women in this study.
It is important to remember that most research on pornography has been done on heterosexual, young men. It is not clear what data we have about women. The data on LGBTQ+ people has been largely ignored, and not many studies have considered the intersectionality between cultures and races.
Is depression a sign of compulsive porn viewing?
Compulsive pornography use, also known as “problematic porn usage” (or PPU), is defined as the inability to control impulses related to pornography viewing. It is often included in the study of sex addiction and compulsive sexual behaviour disorder or hypersexuality.
Although there are many rumors on the internet, there isn’t any overwhelming evidence that depression can lead compulsive porn viewing.
You can easily find the best porn movies by browsing Google or other web portals. The last one I visited was xxx, the content is superb, but you have to watch these videos once every few days so they don’t become addictive. A suitable dose of xxx hd movies will make life more beautiful and free from monotony, stress will no longer be as oppressive.
However, research shows that people who are depressed may be more inclined to view pornography. This could be especially true for men.
A 2017 study found that men with depression might use pornography as a coping tool.
This is in line with the opinions of experts.
Kyle Zrenchick PhD, LMFT, a certified clinical sexologist, says that depression can manifest as isolation, escapism and binging behavior. “People can notice a marked rise in pornography consumption during depression.”
Sean Duane, LCSW is an addiction expert. He adds that “Compulsive online pornography watching can be linked to addictive behaviors as well as patterns and a history of isolation anxiety, depression, or other mental disorders.”
Pornography that is occasional or problematic can be used
Although compulsive porn watching has been diagnosed in some clinical settings, it is not considered a mental illness.
Experts suggest watching porn can become compulsive. This can lead to problems, as with all compulsive behaviors.
What is compulsive, “problematic” and what is “occasional” pornography?
It all comes down to how you feel about the subject and whether or not you believe you have control of your viewing habits. This is also affected by the level of distress you feel from this activity.
Raffi Bilek LCSW-C, therapist, and director of Baltimore Therapy Center, says that the critical difference between compulsive and occasional porn viewing is not about how often or how many times one views it but the question of control. A problem with compulsion is when a person cannot stop watching porn even though they may have tried, and this is something to be concerned about. Even if they don’t watch it often, this is true.
Bilek says that someone could watch porn every day and it’s not necessarily a problem. “As long as they have control over what they are consuming, when they are consuming it, and how often,” Bilek says.
Zrenchick also agrees. He says that there is no one-size-fits all definition of what makes pornography (or any other digital media) problematic. It all comes down to each person’s individual definition.
Duane suggests that there may be a line between “occasional” and “problematic” consumption of pornography.
- Watching pornography online can cause you to lose track of your time
- Increased isolation or preferring porn to socializing
- To watch porn, it is a good idea to ignore friends, family, and loved ones.
- Feelings of euphoria after viewing pornography are followed by guilt
To view pornography, you must have difficulty with the completion of obligatory tasks such as school, work, and parenting.
Avoid new relationships and avoid physical contact with your partner
Alphonso Nathan is a therapist, author and vice president at Brightside Counseling. “To be clear, watching pornography is fine.” It can become an obsession that interferes with your daily life and becomes a problem.
It can lead to anxiety and depression in many cases.