Pornography has never before been as ubiquitous as it is today. With the rise of technology in recent decades producing cable television, laptops and then smartphones, porn has grown to a multi-billion-dollar industry. Practically anyone with a television, laptop or smartphone can access porn for free at any time.
Research published in The APA Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology estimated that 50-to-99 percent of men and 30-to-86 percent of women use porn.
Given this relatively recent spike in consumption, have you ever wondered about the short- and long-term effects of porn on the user’s mental health?
Can you actually get addicted to porn?
Some argue that pornography is harmless or even healthy, and that it’s impossible to become addicted to porn. These statements aren’t exactly true.
Experts continue to debate whether porn addiction is indeed a true addiction like substance use disorder. However, anything in excess can become harmful, especially when it begins to interfere with other aspects of an individual’s life.
Because of the stigma associated with porn addiction, and because it isn’t recognized as a “real” addiction, you might feel resistant to acknowledging that your habit of using porn has become a problem. To determine whether you might need professional help, make a commitment to stop consuming it for a certain amount of time, such as three days or a week. If you can’t resist using porn during that time frame, then you might need to seek counseling.
Whether or not it is indeed possible to become addicted to porn, it’s important to understand the ways its use can negatively impact your mental health.
Understanding porn addiction
Like substance use, porn use serves as a self-soothing mechanism to provide temporary relief and pleasure while suppressing unpleasant feelings of pain or loneliness. The worse we feel, the more desperately we cling to any form of comfort we can find.
Compulsive consumption of pornography can take a toll on mental health and damage other aspects of our lives.
Effects of porn on mental health
More research is required to fully understand the connection between porn addiction and mental health. However, existing studies suggest that compulsive consumption of pornography can lead to severe depression, anxiety and self-isolation in both men and women.
Other negative effects of porn include:
- Guilt or shame that results in lying or keeping secrets from loved ones
- Loneliness and insecurity causing the user to withdraw from relationships
- Increased tendency to engage in risky sexual behaviors
- Decreased satisfaction and intimacy in romantic relationships
If you suspect you might have developed a porn addiction, we’re here for you. Consider reaching out to our team at Mazzitti & Sullivan Counseling.
Contact us for professional help
We know how difficult it can be to admit you’re struggling with a porn addiction.
In a culture that both stigmatizes porn addiction and celebrates pornography as a form of sexual liberation, suffering in silence can sometimes seem like the better alternative, but it isn’t—and you aren’t alone.
Here at Mazzitti & Sullivan, we offer comprehensive treatment plans that are customizable for your individual needs, preferences and goals. To learn more about how we can help you overcome a pornography addiction, call us at 1-800-809-2925.