Many people are concerned about how pornography and depression are connected. There is no definitive answer to this question, and research is ongoing. There are many things that can lead to depression, and pornography, as well as sexual problems like erectile dysfunction and low libido, can increase feelings of depression in men and women alike. This is not to say that porn and depression are directly linked; however, research has shown a connection between these two things.
Porn and Depression: What the studies have shown
Studies have yet been able to conclusively prove that viewing pornography leads to depression. However, there definitely does appear to be a link between pornography addiction and poorer mental health among users. But it is unclear whether pornography addiction began prior to or after the onset of depression-related problems. It is also not clear whether or not other factors like social isolation and/or relationships may be an important contributor to the development of a pornography addiction.
It is important to recognize that the primary focus of the current discussion is how pornography and depression are related. However, it is also important for people who are in relationships to see pornography as a sexual problem and not a form of relaxation or escape from real or imagined problems. Pornography, like masturbation, sexual fantasy, and sexual intimacy are all normal and healthy forms of sexuality. It is not abnormal to view pornography as a sexual problem, and it certainly does have a negative impact on relationships, especially those that involve some type of physical intimacy.
It should be noted that there are many types of pornography, and people can be exposed to varying degrees of pornography based on their own interests, behaviors, and circumstances. For example, some types of pornography involve masturbation, while some involve partnered orface-to-face masturbation or sexual fantasy. There is a difference when it comes to the actual act of masturbation itself. While masturbation can lead to the development of unhealthy sexual behaviors and relationships, the consumption of pornography does not typically lead to any negative mental health consequences. Some types of pornography do encourage masturbation and may even result in increased levels of anxiousness and problematic thinking.
One reason why masturbation may increase anxiety and depressive symptoms is because of how masturbation causes the release of dopamine. Dopamine is primarily present in the brain during times of excitement and novelty. When a person masturbates, they are experiencing a form of natural self-stimulation, which releases dopamine. This can increase feelings of excitement and anticipation, which are common symptoms of depression and anxiety. The release of dopamine is most often associated with feelings of euphoria, which can heighten anxiety levels.
Sexual fantasies and feelings of guilt related to pornography addiction can also lead to depression and anxiety. When a person becomes aware of their unwanted sexual behaviors and thoughts, it can have a profound negative effect on their emotional well-being. Due to depression related to their sexual behavior, a person can feel unworthy and feel that their partner may be losing respect for them. This can then lead to decreased self esteem and emotional pain. As a result, the person can feel that they must control their behavior and thoughts in order to prevent this pain from occurring. This is often associated with anxiety and self-loathing.
Changes in sexual relationships and masturbation from early adulthood can lead to a reduction of depression related symptoms. Because of the effects masturbation can have on a person’s self-image and feelings of self-worth, these adult sexual relationships can be quite emotionally draining on an individual. It can be difficult for an individual to accept their sexuality as something that needs to be controlled and altered in order to improve quality of life. This change in relationships can lead to the development of healthier feelings and behaviors.
In addition to using pornography to self-medicate for depression, some individuals use pornography to try to cope with feelings of anxiety, anger, guilt, and other negative emotions that come with their sexuality. The same biological causes that produce feelings of depression can often produce feelings of shame, guilt, and self-loathing. When an individual watches pornography, it can be used as a means of escaping feelings of sadness or anxiety, as well as negative thoughts. Over time, this type of substitution can create unhealthy patterns of behavior that can eventually lead to depression and other psychological issues.