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Despite the widespread usage of pornography, with over 28,000 people viewing porn at any given moment, it isn’t exactly a dinner table conversation topic. Viewing pornography is an intensely private matter and for that reason, people often do not know about the effects viewing pornography can have.

Can you get addicted to pornography?

Whether a person consumes porn casually or compulsively, there are significant effects on the brain. A study published in the journal Behavioral Sciences identified that the process and effects of porn addiction are comparable to substance use disorders and other online disorders like Internet Gaming Disorder.

Although pornography addiction is not defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and thus it can’t be clinically diagnosed, viewing porn rewires neurological pathways that reinforce the brain’s system of reward, motivation and memory – just like other addictions.

Moreover, porn use mimics substance addiction in that viewers become desensitized to porn and seek more perverse porn, including rape, sexual aggression and sexual promiscuity according to a study published by the Family Research Council.

It’s important to note that there is a high co-occurrence of all types of addictions and mental health issues. In fact, studies estimate that about half of those with addictions struggle with mental health disorders, depression being one of the most common. Although addiction to porn can’t be diagnosed, it’s probable that there’s also a high co-occurrence with depression.

A link between pornography and depression

There is plenty of research that shows a strong association between porn addiction and depression. A study found that the accessibility and ease of obtaining porn exacerbated feelings of loneliness that contribute to depression.

Another study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that college-age porn users were much more likely to experience negative mental health outcomes and presented with compulsive, addiction-like behaviors.

There has also been a proven link between problematic pornography usage and lower overall life satisfaction.

The connection works both ways, too. A study published in 2019 found that depression was a factor that increased the likelihood of individuals beginning a pornography addiction.

How does porn affect relationships?

Porn greatly changes a person’s social expectations. The relationships that occur in pornographic material are quixotic and often escalate to unhealthy or even dangerous behavior. Watching porn regularly may warp how a person participates in daily interactions, especially intimate ones.

A study published by the Marriage Research Council notes numerous key ways relationships are affected by porn.

  • Men who view porn are less sexually and emotionally satisfied with their wives
  • Porn usage often leads to divorce and is cited as a major reason for a large portion of divorces and marital issues
  • Using porn frequently leads to a decrease of interest in investing in good family relations

Additionally, people who start viewing porn at a young age may be hindered in their sexual development. A study of 2,343 teens found that those who were exposed to porn also had lower sexual self-esteem, had more sexual uncertainty, was less sensitive to sexual exploitation and had higher rates of depression.

One of the strongest protective factors against depression is the presence of strong and healthy relationships. Because porn sabotages relationships, it’s definitely influencing depression, too. Thankfully the reverse is true, too. Cutting porn out can be a step towards reviving relationships and managing depression and its symptoms.

Isolation and porn

Feelings of loneliness are painful. Not only that but being isolated is correlated with negative outcomes such as poor executive functioning, low sleep quality, weakened immune systems, accelerated cognitive decline and higher rates of depression according to the American Psychological Association.

Because porn is such a private affair, it is marketed to take advantage of isolation. After the onset of the coronavirus pandemic when many people were confined to their homes and with extra time on their hands, Pornhub offered free premium membership and website traffic increased by 24.4 percent.

Because viewing porn is a behavioral addiction, the more a person consumes, the more he’ll want and thus the more time he’ll spend isolated. Porn use spurs a vicious cycle of loneliness and consequently depression, and getting help for both is crucial.

Where to turn

If you feel like your mental health has suffered due to viewing pornography, it’s time to reach out for help. Talking about a pornography habit can be uncomfortable, but rest assured that you’re not the first one to go through it.

Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare can help you find healing and freedom from porn usage and mental health struggles. You’ll be paired with a compassionate mental health professional who fits your needs and will listen without judgment. To find out more about Pyramid’s services and how to get started, call 678-274-4936 today.

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