Pornography and Depression
The Link Between Pornography and Depression
Even though it is hard to categorically say that viewing pornographic materials causes depression, studies have shown that there is a thin link between pornography and depression, because in most cases, viewers of pornography tend to feel a sense of shame, guilt or loss of self-esteem either while viewing pornography or afterward, and this feeling can easily lead to depression and a loss of self-worth. Therefore, there is a very thin line between pornography and depression; and so, in some cases, the two work hand-in-hand. The feelings that are associated with viewing pornography are even harder for some people with high moral standards to deal with.
People who believe that it is immoral to view pornography but still find that they cannot do without watching it are most likely the ones that easily fall into depressive states. This is because they know that what they are doing is wrong but they cannot fight the urge to continue viewing it; this is a stain to their morality but they feel helpless. The more they try to quit it the more they find themselves craving more for it. Eventually they are so deep down the rabbit hole that they believe they have no hope of redemption, hence the depression.
While studies have shown that people who believe that viewing porn is morally wrong and still view it anyway have a high chance of feeling depresses, the same studies have also shown that even those who do not believe that it is morally wrong to view porn have the tendency of feeling depressed if they view such porn at high frequency. So basically, the link between porn and depression really has nothing concrete to do with your moral standard. If you watch porn, you are probably exposing yourself to depression.
Although it is inconclusive to assume that watching pornography leads to depression, it is safe to say that people who are depressed often have a relationship with pornography. What this means that pornography may not cause depression, but depression can lead to pornography addiction. Therefore, some people who have not been viewing pornographic materials in the first place may end up doing so when they feel depressed. Perhaps they do this with the hope that the pornographic may help them deal better with their depression. But, of course, this is a very wrong assumption. Two wrongs, so to say, have never made a right.
Because of the unlimited access to the internet these days, pornography is more available now than any other time in the past. There are thousands of pornographic websites on the internet these days, and anyone can get easy access to pornography. Even in some of our home videos, there are pornographic contents being displayed in them. So basically, pornography is so much available now that everywhere you turn you seem to find them. And this is also part of the reasons why there are so many pornographic addicts in the world right now, more than any other time in the past too.
Whenever one is viewing pornography, there is a psychological change in the brain, it’s like the gears will somehow shift; this shift often causes the release of a chemical in the brain. This chemical is known as dopamine. The dopamine is often called a chemical messenger because your body and your nervous system use it to send signals between nerve cells. Dopamine is a chemical that plays a major role in how we feel pleasure. And so when viewing porn, this chemical is released and it causes us to feel good about ourselves as we view the porn, at least for a short moment anyway.
To further cement the link between pornography and depression, some studies have shown that those who watch porn are more likely to feel lonely than those who do not. Although this link provides the correlation between pornography and depression, it does not give certainty that there is a cause-and-effect relationship between pornography and depression, because depression itself is a multi-faceted condition; there are various other factors (which may have nothing to do with pornography) that can lead to depression in a person.
Some of those factors include, but not limited, to the following:
- Increased guilt and worthlessness
- Low mood or irritability
- Thoughts of death and dying
- Changes in sleep and diet or weight
- Lack of interest in pleasurable activities
- Low energy and motivation
The coping mechanism between men and women varies when it comes to pornography and depression in the long run. Due to their gender and mental states, men and women cope differently to porn consumption particularly. It can be surprising to discover that porn consumption could have some favorable outcomes in women rather than men.
A study carried out in 2020 shows that women who regularly view porn have more chances of experiencing positive consequences such as:
- Higher pleasure during masturbation
- Becoming aroused more easily
- More numerous episodes of masturbation that end in orgasm
- Decreased difficulty having an orgasm
How Does Depression Affect Libido or Personal Relationship?
Just like other serious issues that put a person’s mental health at risk, depression can affect some aspects of a person’s life, especially such a person’s sexuality and relationships. When the state of depression increases from mild to severe, the condition will have more pronounced influence on all these aspects of the person’s life.
Depression ultimately results in low level of motivation in a person, lower energy, and less interest in pleasurable activities – and all these symptoms can affect a person’s interest in sex generally. Also, increase in irritability and mood symptoms can pose danger on a person’s relationship in such a way that frustration, anger and tension could exist within a person and their partners. Ultimately, by connecting these menaces, it can be assumed that depression can lead to separation – or divorce among married people. All these show that depression can easily affect a person’s libido or sexual interest.
The Effects of Porn Consumption
In some cases, viewing porn is not really a terrible thing – based on perspectives anyway – but it becomes a serious problem when consumption of pornography starts to interfere with a person’s ability to function well and act morally. Moderation is the key. Porn consumption is just like other activities such as gambling, substance use, and sex – there is usually a thin line between acceptable and excessive. Like they say, too much of everything is bad. Therefore, when porn becomes an addiction, it often leads to symptoms that may later result in depression in the end.
The following pointers are indications that porn consumption is beginning to negatively impact your life:
- Spending a lot more time than you plan on watching porn
- The desire to view porn a lot more often, or having to view more taboo porn just achieve the desired effect on your body
- Having to think about porn almost all the time
- Viewing porn materials at the wrong moments and places, such as during class, at functions, work, or even during time with family and friends
- Having to face conflict in one’s social and romantic relationship due to the effect of excessive porn
- Having challenges in fulfilling one’s responsibilities both at work and at home
- Feeling irritable, frustrated and restless anytime one is unable to view porn
- Having the feeling that one’s physical and mental health are being affected due to the effect of porn
- Attempting to cut back or end porn viewing and discovering that one is failing, which eventually will lead to frustration, and possibly, depression
- Finding out that extreme consumption of pornography ultimately causes one’s heightened level of masturbation
- Hating the fact that you cannot stop yourself from viewing porn
The Correlation of Porn and Depression
There is a clear correlation between addiction to pornography and poor mental health, even with the fact that no study has been able to prove that pornography consumption causes depression. This is more like a chicken-and-egg scenario; it is hard to determine which comes first. Any definite answer will only be based on personal belief and perspective. The science relating porn with depression is still unclear. But it has been discovered that pornography is sometimes used as a mask to cope with feelings of anger, boredom, fear or sadness. And when this is stopped, depressive feelings may be triggered. It’s quite paradoxical.
Pornography has the ability to hijack the pleasure center of your brain; it releases the dopamine in full effect, in excessive quantity. And so, in the long run, it will be hard for you to find pleasure outside pornography. The more you watch it, the more it becomes hard for you to find deeper pleasure without viewing it. Eventually, you find it hard to find pleasure not only outside pornography but also in other areas of your life – which will end up resulting in depression and the sad loss of self-worth.
Porn can cause anxiety by denying you of the joy you deserve in other areas of your life, thus triggering the possibility of depression. So, from these statistics, in my own opinion, the question shouldn’t be will pornography cause depression? but when will pornography result in depression? By having this at the back of our minds, we’ll know that extended consumption of pornography will end in depression, it’s only a matter of time before the effect begins to manifest itself. So, it is advisable that pornography should be totally avoided. And if it can’t be stopped, viewing it should be carefully regulated.
Now let’s be honest here: People hardly talk openly about things that are related to sex, or, to be more direct, pornography. It’s just like masturbation; a lot of people frown at it and preach against it, yet they secretly do it; but hardly would you see anyone openly admit to frequently watching porn. Such topics are considered taboo and so they are avoided, especially in certain cultures and some social groups. Because most people believe that subjects bordering on sex are wildly inappropriate and unacceptable, they decide to shy away from talking about them, which is a shame, actually.
Someone who has never heard people talk about masturbation and pornography in an educational manner might judge the topic to be bad, even though talking about it is actually a normal behavior. Most especially individuals that are struggling from anxiety and the possibility of depression often find it hard to talk about pornography, and so they repress their feelings deeper, enduring the psychological torture of what they suffer, until they eventually can’t take it anymore and decide to jump off the cliff. I think the subjects of masturbation and pornography have not been discussed long and often enough.
Learning Not to Feel Guilty
Even though I am not in support of addictive pornography, it is still a fact to note that what turns one person on may disgust another. Therefore, it is quite healthy to find out what works for you; it’s a prerequisite to becoming a fully-functioning, healthy adult. However, you have to understand that moderation is the key. For you to fully enjoy your own sexuality, you must be honest about your sexual preferences, including that of your sexual partner too. By doing this, you and your partner will have a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling sexual life.
Some people really enjoy watching porn but they tend to feel guilty, so they keep it as a secret from their sexual partner. This action can trigger depression since you realized that you can’t be honest with your partner about what really makes you feel good. It is better for you to talk to your partner and both of you will find a good way to work around this feeling of guilt. In most cases, it is not always as bad as you think it is, even if your partner does not appreciate viewing pornography, there is every chance that you will be supported. Or you can both work towards achieving total liberation from the addiction. However, if both of you enjoy viewing pornography, there is no point keeping it a secret from each other. It can actually make your sexual lives more interesting.
In other words, know what makes you happy and do it; but never forget that moderation is key.