Inside Porn Addiction

The path to healthy intimacy.

Can Pornography Trigger Depression?

Or are depressed people more prone to view porn

Do you think that people who frequently view pornography are more prone to depression? Or do you think that depressed people are more prone to view pornography? Why am I talking about pornography and depression? Pornography is a pretty hot topic in our society (pun intended). However, I am not sure we know how to respond to it. What used to be hidden in back alleys is now blantantly in front of us. The problem is we don't yet understand how it influences men and women and their relationships.

Recently, I wanted to know the emotional state (e.g. depression, anxiety) of individuals who view pornography. The question I asked was: "Is there a relationship between frequency of viewing pornography and depression?" To determine this I found a standard measurement for depression and included it as a part of a free online survey found at growthclimate.com. To assess their frequency of viewing pornography I asked this question: "In the last year, what is the frequency with which you have viewed pornography?"

During the past six months nearly 450 people, primarily men have answered these questions.

What are the results?

Nearly 30 percent report that they view pornography at least 3-5 times a week and over 25 percent indicate that they view pornography daily. Initially, I chose to keep these two groups together to see how they did on the depression scale in comparison to the general population. They didn't fair too well. The general population on this particular measurement score about a 6.5 on depression. When I looked at individuals who viewed pornography at least 3-5 times a week they averaged almost 18. According to the particular scale, this would equate to moderate depression.

Next, I broke the frequency down even further and asked what is the difference between individuals who view pornography daily and those who view it 3-5 times a week. The answer surprised me. Individuals who view pornography daily scored in the severe depression range (over 21) while those who viewed porn 3-5 times a week averaged a little above 15--still not great but not severe depression.

I am still trying to wrap my head around this information. Clearly, individuals who consume porn daily are dealing with more than just porn. They are apt to be experiencing depression. I am wondering if depressed people are more prone to view porn to combat the depression or if daily use of porn triggers individuals into a depression? Either way, my research with more than 400 people who voluntarily took my assessment indicates that people who regularly view pornography are experiencing more depression than the general population.

In my next blog, I will share what I learned about depression levels in single versus married individuals.

Kevin B. Skinner, Ph.D., is a licensed marriage and family therapist. He is the author of Treating Pornography Addiction: The Essential Tools for Recovery.

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