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Kevin B Skinner Ph.D.

Depression

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 blatantly 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 the 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.

The results:

Nearly 30 percent report that they view pornography at least three to five 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 scores about a 6.5 on depression. When I looked at individuals who viewed pornography at least three to five times a week they averaged almost 18. According to a 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 three to five 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 three to five 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 post, I will share what I learned about depression levels in single versus married individuals.

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