Clicky

In the past, most people wanted to hide their porn use. Today, with easy access to free pornography online, it has almost become mainstream. The scary part of this recent social trend is that watching pornography might lead to addiction, depression, and even suicide.

However, the science behind this last statement isn’t entirely clear. The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) does not recognize “porn addiction” as an official mental health disorder. Instead, most therapists consider watching porn a compulsion.

Despite this lack of official recognition for the condition, many studies have shown striking similarities between the brains of compulsive pornography watchers and substance abuse addicts. Other studies have shown a strong correlation between depression and watching pornography.

This article will cut through the fog to show how porn addiction can lead to depression and suicide.

What Is Porn Addiction?

Even though the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) doesn’t list porn addiction, many therapists consider it a compulsion that can cause mental health problems.

Compulsions are irrational, repetitive behaviors that people frequently use to relieve anxiety.

There is no specific amount of watching porn that makes a person “addicted.” Some people can view porn every day without problems. Others might watch pornography once a month and have serious mental health issues. Instead, porn addiction is about lack of control.

If porn addiction interferes with social functioning, sexual relationships, job performance, or daily activities, the person has a mental health problem.

Symptoms of porn addiction can include:

  • Sex life becomes unfulfilling
  • Giving up regular activities to watch porn
  • Lose interest in anything but porn
  • Ignore important tasks
  • Become less interested in social interactions
  • Neglect personal care
  • Watch porn in inappropriate places
  • Can’t quit watching when trying to stop
  • Continue watching porn despite it becoming less enjoyable
See also  How to Stop Fapping [Benefits of Kicking Masterbation Addiction]

Causes of Porn Addiction

When a person enjoys an experience, the brain responds by releasing a neurotransmitter called dopamine that causes pleasure. Dopamine also enhances memory. A person strongly REMEMBERS what caused the pleasant sensation, which encourages them to repeat the behavior.

Watching porn is easier than most actions that release dopamine. For example, winning a game means defeating an opponent who is also trying to win. Eating a tasty meal requires money or time, effort, and skill to cook. However, online porn often costs nothing and is easy to access. A person can get repeated dopamine “hits” with few limits.

When large amounts of dopamine regularly flood the brain, it becomes desensitized to the chemical. The same amount of dopamine produces progressively less pleasure. This decline causes many people to watch even more porn to experience the same good feeling.

The easy-to-achieve pleasure from watching porn can take over lives.

Diseases like epilepsy and dementia can also damage the area of the brain that controls sexual behavior (including consumption of pornography). High levels of mood-altering brain chemicals such as serotonin and norepinephrine show a positive correlation with regular porn use.

Porn addiction is also more likely if s person has one of the following mental health conditions:

  • Prior sexual abuse
  • Suffer from depression or other addiction
  • Substance abuse problems
  • Family conflict
  • Victim of physical abuse

Porn Addiction and Depression

There is currently no solid evidence that porn causes depression. But, numerous studies have shown that watching pornography is related to depression.

For example, a 2019 experiment demonstrated that excessive viewing of porn caused a higher risk of depression in both men and women. Another study showed that being depressed also causes a higher risk of developing a compulsion to watch porn in individuals who used it to cope with negative emotions.

See also  Pornstars and Their Unhappy Lives: The Truth About the Industry

The quantity of porn use also is associated with depression. A 2017 experiment showed that 14.6% of male students who watched porn more than three times per week reported depression. Meanwhile, only 2.8% of students who watched porn less than once a week experienced depression.

Other studies show that people who consider watching porn a moral flaw or feel they can’t control their pornography habit are more likely to experience sexual shame. Feelings of shame or failure can lead to depression.

Suicide and Pornography

Many people who suffer from compulsive sexual disorders want to kill themselves. The shame of hiding their problem and the fear of discovery can cause considerable mental distress. Many feel suicide is their only way out.

According to Dr. Patrick Carnes, 17% of sex addicts attempt suicide at some point in their lives. Seventy-two percent have considered it. That’s nearly four times the suicide attempt rate for the general population(4.6%).

Even though the DSM fails to recognize porn addiction as a mental health disorder, porn addiction can lead to terrible outcomes.

The mental health carnage isn’t limited to the person with porn addiction. Many spouses can feel sexually betrayed by a porn addict. When a suicide attempt leads to death, the surviving spouse’s mental health can suffer. They often blame themselves for the suicide if they confronted their partner with their porn addiction or even merely suspected it.

Children experience the sudden death of a parent. The loss of a breadwinner can cause financial hardship. The entire family will often struggle to understand what happened, which can lead to anger, resentment, and sorrow. These feelings can cause mental health problems years after the suicide.

Treatment

First know this, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. There are much better options. You can absolutely overcome a porn addiction and so many people already have. Depression can also be successfully treated.

See also  Porn Betrayal: The Other Side of Porn Addiction

There are multiple methods to treat addiction to pornography, which include self-help, therapy, support groups, and medication.

Self-help
Some porn addicts may be able to control their condition on their own by:

  • Substituting another activity when feeling the urge to watch porn
  • Writing down the problems caused by porn use
  • Avoiding anything that triggers the urge to watch porn
  • Deleting bookmarks to online porn sites
  • Getting rid of porn stored on computer and hard-copy porn
  • Asking another person to install anti-porn software or accountability software on devices without giving the the password to the porn addict
  • Keep a record of efforts to stop watching porn

Therapy
Seeking therapy with a mental health professional can help many who suffer from the compulsion to watch porn. This treatment can include individual, group, or family counseling. There are both in-person and online therapy options.

Try to find a therapist that specializes in treating porn addiction. If it’s proving difficult to find such a therapist you can at least find one who specializes in addiction in general.

Counseling can help porn addicts discover the cause behind their compulsion. Therapy can help patients develop coping mechanisms that can change their behavior.

Support Groups
Many porn addicts feel alone due to their condition. Talking to other people who have similar problems can relieve anxiety caused by social isolation. Patients can seek information about support groups from their primary care provider, a mental health professional, or mental health association.

Conclusion

While porn addiction isn’t a universally recognized mental health condition, it can cause many psychological problems. Porn addiction can cause compulsive behaviors that interfere with social functioning, sexual relationships, job performance, or daily activities. It can also lead to depression and even suicide.

People who feel they have a problem with pornography can seek professional help to treat the condition. Ignoring the problem can have disastrous consequences.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).