Porn and Mental Health: Can Watching Porn Cause Depression?

A Man Watching Porn

incognito logoAdmit it: you’ve gone incognito and watched porn at least once in your life. The internet is home to millions of adult videos garnering billions of views every year. In 2017 alone, Pornhub — one of the biggest pornography websites on the internet — gained 28.5 billion visits a year. That’s almost a thousand visits a second or 78.1 million viewers in a day. In fact, if Pornhub and its viewers were a country, it would rank the 20th in terms of population — and that’s just for one website.

Access to the internet has made it easy for anyone to watch porn online, making it more popular today than ever. And while porn can make you feel good for a moment, evidence points to the temporary high causing more pain than pleasure in the long run. Studies reveal that watching porn frequently can be dangerous to your mental and psychological help and can lead mental health illnesses, especially depression and anxiety.

Porn on the Brain: How Common is Porn?

Accessibility has helped changed the way society looks at porn and sex. What used to be a scandalous topic to mention in public is now a natural need for adults. With nearly 90 percent of men and a third of women admitting to watching porn, it’s an acceptable habit that takes up to half of all internet use.

People will use porn for their own personal reasons, but the end game is always for the same reason: the temporary feeling of sexual satisfaction. And while you could get various benefits get from that cathartic feeling, too much can lead to an addiction, especially if you’re facing huge amounts of stress, depression, or loneliness and find that that temporary high can serve as a coping method. Prolonged exposure performed excessively, it could lead to negative psychological effects.

How Porn Turns Into an Unhealthy Addiction

Pornography AddictionLike many addictions, developing porn addictions start with the temporary happiness being the highlight of anyone’s day. When you feel happy, your body secretes dopamine, which makes you feel better physically and mentally: it helps numb physical and mental pain. In a way, it psychologically primes you: if you do this, you get dopamine, and you feel happy, so you are trained to repeat your actions if you want to feel happy.

Dopamine, however, can slowly numb your neurotransmitters. You can feel good watching porn once a week, but eventually it will not have the same effect and you may be driven to doing it more often just to achieve the same original feeling. This is what causes a porn addiction.

In extreme cases, a person may have little control over their body and cannot resist the impulse to watch more porn. Around nine percent of viewers claim that they cannot refrain from viewing porn when the idea comes to them.

How Does Watching Porn Affect Mental Health?

The development of a porn addiction, however, raises the question of why a person would want to continue feeling that high. A possible answer is that it affects their psychological effects and mental health problems which may have already existed when they began watching porn.

A study published in the journal of JAMA Psychiatry revealed that watching porn can shrink the brain. Frequent viewers of porn had smaller brain volume and lesser complex brain tissue compared to those who didn’t view porn. Furthermore, a study in the Journal of Sex Research found that watching porn often makes people crave for short-term rewards over delayed gratification. Porn, therefore, enforces a short-term mentality among viewers, and opens the gate for various mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

Depression

In an interview with 450 people who watched porn, Dr. Kevin B. Skinner found that those who watched more frequently scored higher in a depression scale. Those who watched daily ranged in the severe depression scale, while those who viewed three to five times a week had a high risk for depression.

Person suffering from depression because of pornOne reason for this could be the way porn plays on emotional health. People could be watching porn because they feel lonely or unsatisfied in their relationship, and porn is a way for them to forget these emotions. However, this temporary fix does not solve their problems once the high wears off, and they continue to remain unsatisfied despite this.

It’s hard to determine if depression led to watching porn or if porn caused depression. Many studies suggest that the two are linked, especially when it comes to porn addictions. However, after feeling temporary happiness, you could begin to show signs of addiction, including guilt and anxiety.

Anxiety

The guilt of watching too much porn and the feeling of low self-worth may only worsen a person’s mental health state and lead to more destructive behaviors. However, anxiety may not stem from watching too much porn, but the conscious feeling that they are becoming addicted to porn have become too dependent on it to stop.

Anxiety caused by porn addictionResearcher Joshua Grubbs stated that pornography on its own may not be the problem, but the “perceived addiction to porn.”  The intensity and frequency of porn use caused mental distress. When watching porn becomes an uncontrollable habit and begins to control the different aspect of a person’s life, it could cause psychological issues and lead to depression, anger, and anxiety.

The psychological distress may also stem anxiety from people afraid they may be caught and publicly shamed. They also fear that watching too much porn can ruin their marriage or affect their work. However, despite doing anything to avoid these, their continuing to watch porn continues, and they are subject to even worse anxiety.

Overcoming Porn Addiction & Mental Side Effects

While there are some people who might enjoy watching porn every now and then, there are many who use porn as a coping method for anxiety and depression. However, the small bits

Addiction to pornography is a serious problem because it puts a strain on one’s life and personal relationships. While overcoming porn addiction may seem daunting, Pornography Addiction Utah frequently reminds patients it is possible and that talking about it is the first step towards healing.

Watching too much porn can never substitute for genuine feelings of happiness. Graphic sexual videos only set unrealistic expectations, hurt relationships, and lead to psychological distress in the viewer. Resorting to porn will not take away any problems because it is just a band aid solution that could escalate into yet another problem.