This page has been edited and reviewed by psychologist R. Y. Langham, M.M.F.T., Ph.D.
Some feel that pornography is a healthy outlet for an individual’s sexual needs, while others assert that pornography contributes to an unhealthy and distorted view of sex and personal relationships. Pornography can lead to depression and/or anxiety. In addition, this sexual pastime can trigger or worsen manic depression (i.e. bipolar disorder
An effective way to overcome pornography addiction is to get out and socialize with others. Isolation and boredom can contribute to pornography addiction.
Pornography Can Lead to Depression
Love is one of the most important factors in maintaining good mental health. Pornography has been described as "anti-love" in that it causes one to view others as objects to sexual exploitation, the objectification of others the opposite or same sex.
Sex with a partner, ideally, is two-sided, with both partners exchanging and receiving satisfaction. It is not just a physical act, but involves an intense emotional connection. The emotional bond formed within a marriage helps enhance the act of “making love.” In fact, the deep emotional connection between these two committed individuals often lends to a more satisfying and fulfilling sexual experience. While not all married individuals have satisfying sexual relations, but happy and stable relationships and marriages enrich and enhance the emotional and physical aspects of sex.
Pornography, on the other hand is most often one-sided, with only one person receiving sexual satisfaction. In fact, with pornography, there are generally no physical exchanges (i.e. touching, fondling, kissing, cuddling, sexual intercourse, etc.). The lack of physical stimulation with another partner or human contact usually results in those viewing pornography to complete the sexual experience through masturbation
. As a result, loneliness, low self-esteem, and/or depression
According to Penny Frolich & Cindy Meston, professors at University of Texas, Austin, and authors of "Sexual Functioning and Self-Reported Depressive Symptoms Among College Women Clinical" (2003), clinical studies indicate that there is a correlation between masturbation and depression
Pornography Addiction Can Lead to Sexual & Relationship Difficulties
Pornography can interfere with one’s ability to have a healthy and mutually satisfying sexual relationship with his or her partner. Some married or committed men can become impotent as a result of pornography addiction. In some cases, pornography addiction can contribute to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
, manic depression, that is bipolar disorder—and/or major depression
. This does not mean that everyone who views or is addicted to pornography will acquire the symptoms associated with a mental health disorder, but that for some who acquire the symptoms of some mental health disorders, pornography addiction can be part of the underlying cause.
Overcoming a Pornography Addiction
A fascination with pornography is certainly common, however, for many, it wreaks havoc on their romantic relationships and mental health. It is important to note that breaking free from pornography addiction is by no means easy. In fact, for some, it is the hardest addiction they ever have to overcome.
Some pornography addicts report that the withdrawal process is similar to that of the withdrawal process for heroin and cocaine addicts. It is important to note that some porn addicts will not be able to fully recover without familial and professional help.
In some cases, spiritual strategies
such as prayer and reading the Bible
can help someone overcome pornography addiction.
Using Practical Measures & Art to Break Free from Pornography Addiction
can help one break free from pornography addiction. Replace the strong visual attraction of pornography with a socially positive and visually pleasing activity that increases self-fulfillment and self-esteem.
For persons who are visually oriented, a healthy way to fulfill the need for visual stimulation is to engage in creative art. An interest in art not only helps develop one’s self-esteem, but it also helps to improve concentration. Art has been successfully used as a psychotherapy technique to help those with mental illnesses, emotional distress, psychological disorders and stress. It can also be one positive step to help those with pornography addiction permanently break free from it!
Additionally, practical measures such as exercising on a regular basis, removing the television out of the bedroom--late night cable television might be a source of sexual fuel or soft porn--and maintaining positive social contacts, avoiding isolation, and psychotherapy
can benefit some struggling from pornography addiction.
References and Resources - Pornography Effects
1. Mary Anne Layden, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology, Psychiatry Department, University of Pennsylvania. Co-Director, Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program.
2. Graemme Mashall, Are You Saying 'NO' to Internet Pornography?
3. Child Pornography - Approximately 500,000 Americans engage in child pornography. Many times, child pornography slips through the cracks. The lack of monitoring at public libraries have caused them to be a haven for those who want to view pornographic images, including sexual images of minors, children and even babies.
4. Frolich P. & Meston, C. (2003). Sexual functioning and self-reported depressive symptoms among college women. University of Texas: Austin.
5. Pornography - Harmless or Harmful? (2003). Awake!
Pornography, Mental Health and Pornography Addiction Resources
Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. - The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family and Community
Robert A. Baron, Ph.D. - Effects of Pornography.
Sean Covey - Analysis of Pornography and Pornography Addiction
How Exposure to Pornography Affects Children
K9 - Free Parental Internet Filtering Software