Porn addiction symptoms - Brainbuddy

Any addiction comes with a number of symptoms. These symptoms can be physical, emotional, or social in nature. The symptoms are the unwanted side effects of the addiction, the actual issues that are presented by compulsive behavior.

An addiction without any symptoms is most likely not an addiction at all. If you’re able to maintain your porn use without developing any of the symptoms that we describe in this article, you’re likely able to maintain a habit that isn’t destructive or dangerous.

Nonetheless, not everyone is able to maintain their porn use at this stage. In this article we will explore the many different issues that can influence porn addiction symptoms. We will also discuss another addiction that almost always accompanies porn addiction: masturbation addiction.

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Factors that influence symptoms of porn addiction

The specific symptoms experienced by any individual will depend on their own personal experience with addiction, as well as other factors. It’s important to consider these different factors because they’ll help you determine whether you or your loved ones are actually suffering from a porn addiction.

  • An individual’s physiology can affect the physical symptoms that they experience as a result of their porn addiction. For example, someone who has low muscle mass and low energy levels may be more prone to fatigue or over-exert themselves from watching porn and masturbating.
  • If you have had a past experience with addiction (whether it was to drugs, alcohol, or to other behaviors, like gambling) then you may be more prone to develop a porn addiction. All addictions stimulate similar pathways in the brain, and the more you become addicted, the easier it is to fall back into addictive patterns.
  • Your age may influence the symptoms that you develop as a result of your porn addiction. For example, many youth are first exposed to pornography during high school. It may be considered more socially acceptable to discuss porn at this age rather than at a later age, where discussing pornography might be considered a taboo social symptom of addiction.
  • Your physical gender determines the type of sexual symptoms that you might develop as a result of your porn addiction. 
  • Your physical health and dietary habits can have a significant impact on your porn addiction and any subsequent symptoms. Healthy people who eat regularly and exercise are much less likely to become dependent on activities like watching porn to feel fulfillment.
  • Your social skills, status, and capabilities. These factors can all influence the type of social symptoms that you may experience as a result of your porn addiction.

Remember that even accounting for these different factors and lifestyles, not everyone will experience the same issues. Some people may experience very few symptoms, whereas others may develop intense addictions very quickly and experience large numbers of symptoms. 

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Why is it important to identify porn addiction symptoms?

There are several reasons that you might want to identify porn addiction symptoms. Ultimately, however, this can be broken down into two categories: either you’re trying to figure out if you have a porn addiction yourself, or you want to figure out if someone that you know has an addiction.

Identifying porn addiction symptoms in yourself

If you’re here in hopes of identifying a porn addiction in yourself, then we commend you. It is one of the most difficult things that a person can do to consider that they have an addiction. An addiction is an overwhelming condition that takes away self-control. Acknowledging an addiction is firstly an acknowledgment of powerlessness — however, by acknowledging this, you also gain the opportunity to take back lost power.

However, before you can do this, you have to know whether or not you actually have an addiction! If you’re worried about your porn use but you’re uncertain of whether or not you’re addicted, then the only way you can really find out is by studying the symptoms.

Who knows — perhaps you’ll be relieved and find out that your ‘addiction’ is nothing more than a habit. Or perhaps you’ll discover that your habit is actually much worse than you thought. In either case, if you’re reading this page, chances are that you’re having some hesitations about the amount of porn that you use, so perhaps it’s time to tone it down a bit.

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Identifying porn addiction symptoms in others

If you’re reading this article so that you can hope to identify a porn addiction in someone else, you must tread carefully. While many people approach this situation from a position of genuine concern, others do not.

If you are simply nosey and hoping to identify somebody’s addiction so that you can spread rumors and gossip about it, then it is absolutely invasive and wrong to do so. However, if you have reason to believe that somebody is harming themselves or hindering their personal growth because of porn addiction, it may be in your best interest to intervene. 

Remember, however, it is not your job or duty to be a savior. Chances are, if you choose to call somebody out for their addictive behavior, they will not be overly enthusiastic or receptive. 

Porn addiction symptoms in romantic partners

You may also be interested in identifying addictive behavior in your spouse or romantic partner. Some partners simply don’t like their significant others watching porn. It can bring up feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy, and so on. You might start to wonder that you are not attractive enough for your partner, or become concerned that they are fantasizing about other people

These are certain topics worth discussing with your partner. However, your opinion about pornography does not necessarily mean that your partner is a porn addict. You may disagree with porn entirely, and your opinions are just as valid as anybody else’s. However, whether or not someone has an addiction is not a matter of opinion.

This is why it’s important to learn and understand the symptoms of this type of addiction. Then, if you have reason to believe that your loved one is actually struggling with an addiction, you can take the next step towards helping them.

Addiction can cause biochemical changes in the brain and can interfere with the quality of a person’s life. If you suspect that your partner is addicted, it could be helpful to both of you to work on the problem together.

Thus, it is a good idea to study the symptoms of porn addiction. Then, before accusing your partner of having an addiction, you can be absolutely certain whether or not their pornography usage constitutes an addiction or a simple habit.

Masturbation addiction and pornography

Many people who develop a pornography addiction also have a masturbation addiction. In fact, it is far more common for people to have both of these issues than to simply struggle with a porn addiction. However, the DSM-V doesn’t separate the two different types of addiction, instead referring to them both as ‘sex addictions.’

Masturbation addiction involves the actual physical, sexual stimulation that often (but not always) leads to orgasm. Masturbation addiction is accountable for most of the physical symptoms of porn addiction that are often described — without masturbation, porn addiction is unlikely to cause many physical symptoms at all.

In fact, without masturbation and the resulting physical stimulation and orgasm, it is rather difficult to become addicted to porn at all. Not impossible, but very difficult. While pornography is able to stimulate the mind and cause a bodily response, without further stimulation, it does not produce much pleasure and thus does not provide an avenue for addiction.

Symptoms of pornography and masturbation addiction

The symptoms of any addiction can be loosely separated into two categories: physical and mental symptoms. In this section of our page, we will discuss some of the physical and mental symptoms associated with pornography addiction.

The thing to remember here is that many of the symptoms of pornography addiction are personal and will only be noticed by the individual with the addiction. If you are hoping to diagnose a loved one with porn addiction, it can be difficult. Even if you understand the symptoms, you’ll have a hard time identifying them all without violating your friend or partner’s privacy.

Nonetheless, here is an outline of some of the symptoms.

Physical symptoms

Masturbation and sexual difficulties

As mentioned, porn addiction usually occurs alongside masturbation addiction. It is very uncommon for people to be addicted solely to the act of watching porn without masturbating as well.

As such, some of the first, foremost, and most obvious side effects associated with porn addiction are sexual side effects. During a porn addiction, you are abusing your sexual organs and the part of your brain that is responsible for feelings of arousal. The natural result of this, of course, is a number of changes in your sexual behavior.

You might have noticed some obvious physical symptoms of porn addiction such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation. You might also have noticed that you find it difficult to physically enjoy real sex when not thinking about porn or watching porn. You might experience difficulty masturbating when not looking at porn or thinking about it.

A further symptom that some men report which is worth considering is the effects of “Traumatic Masturbation Syndrome”. While this may not be strictly related to porn use, it can be a concern for men who use what’s described as “unusual or vigorous masturbation techniques''. This can include regularly exerting extreme pressure (often called ‘deathgrip’) and speed to masturbate, which over time can reduce sensitivity.

This kind of technique can’t be matched by normal intercourse and can lead to problems when having real sex. Masturbating while ‘prone’ – i.e. laying face down - can also eventually lead to desensitization as it can put excessive pressure on your penis. This can ‘train’ you to enjoy a masturbation sensation that can’t be easily replicated during sex with another person or using normal masturbation. 

Lastly, if you’re masturbating vigorously all the time, you may injure the tissue of your genitals.

Emotional and mental symptoms

When it comes to emotional and mental symptoms, many men notice an array of negative impacts on their life. These can include:

  • Feeling angry and hostile when you can’t access porn or when asked to stop using porn. This might include hiding your porn use from loved ones and people you are in intimate relationships with. 
  • Differences in the way you view women in normal life as a result of your porn use – and feeling ashamed or guilty about these differences.
  • Spending time isolating yourself and avoiding social situations which can be the result of factors such as lower self-esteem, an increase in social awkwardness which some people have suggested may be due to excessive screen time interfering with the development of social skills.
  • Inability to concentrate and a decrease in the ability to delay gratification in a general sense. This means finding it hard to stop yourself from taking part in activities you want to, even if they will interfere in your life.
  • Feeling depressed and helpless about your porn use and finding you are starting to lack motivation to take part in everyday activities.
  • You may feel a sense of guilt at the porn you view, especially if it’s interfering in an intimate relationship or your porn use has escalated to include viewing porn that you don’t ordinarily find attractive, ethical or aligned with your sexuality.

Porn addiction causes biochemical changes in the brain that can negatively affect our brain’s reward center. This can cause us to feel depressed, especially when we stop watching porn. This is akin to the withdrawal that drug users feel when they stop taking drugs.

In either case, understanding the physical and mental symptoms of porn addiction can help you prepare for the worst and learn to overcome this issue.