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Shocking studies concur porn consumption can be not only addictive, but have a direct relation to depression. Here's the link between both.

Are porn addiction and depression related? Studies seem to say “yes”

While everyone loves to feel a good boost of “self-gratification,” we know more than ever recall that old warning: “too much of a good thing.” With the power the internet making our wildest fantasies come to life at the click of a button, it’s easier than ever to overindulge.

Several emerging reports conclude there’s a net increase in cases of addiction surrounding one of the internet’s most popular adult industries – that’s right, we’re talking about porn. Shocking studies concur porn consumption can be not only addictive, but have a direct relation to depression.

Staggering porn statistics

A survey published in Paediatrics estimated over 40% of children between the ages of ten and seventeen have had some exposure to pornography. According to The Recovery Village, over 40 million Americans visit pornography a year, with a whopping third of all downloads have a direct relation to porn of some form. 

Such easy access has created quite a demand from the industry, and has led more and more users down the rabbit hole of the various sexual activities the internet has to offer. But as some people come back far between gratification sessions, others become compulsive or driven to a point some clinicians liken to true dependence. 

Linking porn and depression

Just like the release that comes from interpersonal sexual relations, porn has long been another way for individuals to satisfy their urges. But like the information overload, we encounter on the internet in plain, everyday use, the variety of options, information, and stimulation can be overwhelming. 

If you’ve ever taken a health or development class in your life, you may remember some vague information about chemicals in the brain – ones like dopamine – sending signals of happiness and satisfaction through our bodies. We catch these natural highs and ride them out until we are able to experience them again – whether by chance or will. 

Although there may not be significant physical effects, some health care studies are concerned with the mental implications of porn addiction. Some people will do anything to seek out and perform the activities giving them that rush, even if it interferes with daily life – like staying motivated or keeping your screen PG at work or in public. 

Depression and porn: Cause or effect

Which came first: the porn or the feelings of depression? Though many studies have concluded some relation between porn addiction and depression, they can often disagree on which is the cause versus the effect. 

Dr. Gary Brooks – a psychologist who has spent nearly three decades studying porn addiction – concluded when someone binges porn beyond its normal cycle of usage, “it can’t help but be a depressing, demeaning, self-loathing kind of experience.” 

For people who are already feeling lonely or dissatisfied, they may turn to pornography to combat these feelings – obtaining a false or temporary sense of intimacy. Others may be bored, troubled, or anxious, using porn engagement for release. The constant use can lead to long-term feelings of depression or greater dissatisfaction. 

For others who are constantly chasing the feelings of satisfaction that porn can fulfill, the repeated increase and release of “feel-good” chemicals in the brain – like dopamine – causes an imbalance. Researchers in Cambridge, UK deduced users actively seek porn to satisfy mental cravings – and like drugs, require more intense experiences over time. 

Fallout of porn addiction

According to information from a public charity called Fight The New Drug, a 2005 study was conducted with 400 porn users, and uncovered a link between pornography use and loneliness – people chase cinematic fantasies and develop unrealistic expectations about what love, intercourse, and the human body can or should be. 

Other side effects of extreme porn use can play further upon these unrealistic expectations, setting people up to feel less inclined to be aroused by other people or real intercourse – hurting their drive to make intimate connections. One’s own realization of these shortcomings can produce low self-confidence, anxiety, and mental health issues. It’s important to reach out for help before more severe mental health issues occur. There is no shame in reaching out. You can always connect with the mental health professionals available online at BetterHelp.

Porn addiction is seen as a vicious cycle repetition – not unlike an addiction to some substances, but more of the symptoms seem to play entirely on a deteriorating state of socioemotional health. Who would’ve imagined feeling like you just had sex whenever you want could be a terrible, life-alerting activity? 

Discourse on depression and porn addiction 

Published in Psychology Today, Kevin Skinner Ph.D. conducted a study of 450 male participants, and found with some metric evidence that daily porn users are “experiencing more depression than the general population” and some of their mental states equate to “moderate depression.”

Porn addiction is still not a true medical classification under practicing medical anthologies and manuals, and some argue it’s too early to place speculated symptoms or find a way to effectively treat the disorder. This hasn’t stopped some psychiatrists from bringing in patients and speaking to them about such afflictions. 

As media forms continue to adapt amidst technological breakthroughs, few can understand the form and accessibility of porn in the coming years, making it harder to address the full scope of porn addiction. 

It seems an increase in depression is at least one common factor between heavy porn users. If you notice your habits changing or your mental health getting worse – and it just so happens you love to “indulge” more than the rare occasion – consider being more mindful of your habits; Or maybe ask a friend to set up a parental lock on your laptop. 

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