Pornography and Depression: Are They Related and How?

Recent statistics suggest that problematic pornography use affects about 3% to 6% of the adult population worldwide. In the meantime, The World Health Organization estimates a solid 4% of depression sufferers or about 280 million people all over the globe. 

Of course, these two groups don’t necessarily overlap. In fact, many studies have been carried out in recent years to define and explain the connection between pornography and depression. None of them proved a direct cause-effect correlation, but many of them showed steady overlapping between these phenomena. 

So – can porn make you depressed? Or can your depression drive you to increased porn consumption? Let’s see how things work. 

How Does Porn Cause Depression?

Once again – no one ever proved it does. Or at least not directly. 

There isn’t a single mechanism through which porn will immediately turn you into a sad and self-pitying emotional wreck. Instead, there is a long list of possible interdependence patterns that may include:

  • Taboos. Your background cultural and religious background forms a rather significant part of your value system, whether you want it or not. Certain inbound stereotypes might lead you to a persistent feeling of guilt and shame for consuming pornographic content, causing you to blame yourself and feel pretty bad.
  • Loneliness. Lacking actual physical intimacy and feeling lonely or isolated is among the most commonly spread porn addiction causes. This is a vicious circle where you turn to adult content to satisfy your basic sexual urges but then find yourself gradually depressed about not being able to meet them in any other way.
  • Negative self-image. Early exposure to pornographic content might form some rather unrealistic expectations about intimacy and sexual life in general. And although porn comes in all shapes and sizes, it can often make you feel insecure about your attractiveness and “skills”.
  • Emotional deprivation. If excessive and long-term, porn watching can lead you to objectify the people around you and consider sex to be more physical than an emotional act. Surely, this is not good news for your general intimate life and ability to form healthy bonds with your partners. 

And though these mechanisms are often enough observed in problematic porn users, they are still far from a “formula” that puts a sign of equality between watching porn and being depressed.


Pornography and Depression vs. Self Pity

It’s more logical and realistic to assume that self-isolating and excessive porn use are common among individuals prone to self-pity rather than clinical depression. And if clinical depression can cause severe symptoms on a purely physical level, self-pity is more of exaggerating misfortune to the point where you become addicted to being sad.

Of course, both conditions are classified as mental health issues and can often overlap with one another. Still, self-pity is a thinking pattern you can work on by choice, while clinical depression is best addressed by a certified mental health practitioner. 

Can Porn Make Depression Worse?

And if there isn’t a single valid proof of the direct correlation between porn and depression, things are different when an already depressed person turns to porn. The reasons are purely physical and are relatively easy to explain.

Low serotonin and dopamine levels are among the most common chemical imbalances observed in people with depression. But then, an orgasm will give you a super fast and efficient serotonin and dopamine hit, making you feel calm and relaxed immediately after. 

However, the “do it for the happiness hormones” strategy is not very sustainable. Just like using drugs, watching porn is something you develop a tolerance to. Then, to get the same effect, you need to do it more often and in larger doses. That’s how treating depression with porn can turn you into a literal pornography addict and stop you on your way to a healthy mental state.

Can Porn Addiction Lead to Anxiety?

Discussing porn and anxiety isn’t much different than discussing porn and depression. There is still no direct “cause and effect” mechanism, but there are certain risks for predisposed individuals. 

Taboos, guilt, shame, and insecurity can both trigger and worsen your anxiety – especially when you begin to compare your intimate life with the adult movie-making industry standards. So if you find yourself feeling less satisfied and having more tension when being intimate with someone, it’s time to consider if you haven’t gone too far.

If not addressed timely and adequately, severe porn addiction can damage your general well-being to the point where professional help is the only option. Unfortunately, statistics don’t say much about porn and suicide, but a quick browse through the Internet will give you a fair number of personal stories thrilling enough to make you think twice and seek support when you need it. 

Stay tuned to the RexalifyApp blog for more insight into mental health, emotional well-being, and coping mechanisms that will help you solve a problem without creating a chain of additional issues to be solved! 

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