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Psychologists Sydney / Associated Counsellors Blog / Covid-19 lockdowns lead to increased porn use

Covid-19 lockdowns lead to increased porn use

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We’re seeing more calls from people wanting help with porn addiction

Over the course of the various lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, we have noticed an increasing trend in people seeking help for online porn addiction. Our anecdotal evidence is revealed in formal studies such as a recent study published by the academic journal Frontiers Psychiatry [1] which used Google Trends to reveal  a significant rise in interest in online porn in countries affected by COVID-19 lockdowns, compared to the last 4 years. Furthermore, between February and March 2020, traffic to the Pornhub website in Australia jumped from 0.5% to 5.2% [2]. In many countries, spikes in visits to Pornhub have occurred in the early weeks of the pandemic, immediately after social distancing measures were put in place.

This is unsurprising, as the spread of the coronavirus and stay at home orders have led to increased loneliness, isolation and stress, causing people to turn to pornography as a form of entertainment, connection and distraction.

Porn causes a dopamine hit

Porn addiction can be a highly rewarding behaviour, due to the quick and intense brain rewards (dopamine) which pornography encourages, and there is nothing wrong with watching porn. Unfortunately, however, the reward cycle can sometimes lead to a dependency or addiction, which in simple terms means that you find yourself watching too much porn too often, at a detriment to your other normal activities or your relationships.

According to a survey of Australian adults, approximately 4.4% of men and 1.2% of women consider themselves porn addicts [3]. As this survey only included those who were willing to share this information, it it likely that the figures are even higher.

When porn starts to interfere with your relationships or day-to-day life …

While the moderate use of porn does not interfere with daily life or romantic relationships, porn addiction can occur when the consumption of porn reaches a level where you become dependent on it. If porn addiction is affecting your personal relationships, work, responsibilities or family life, it may be time to reach out and seek professional help for the problem.

Signs you may have a porn addiction

Typical signs and symptoms of porn addiction include:

  • Increasingly spending more time watching porn
  • Having the feeling that you need a porn “fix” and are experiencing a “high” from it
  • Hiding or lying about your porn use
  • Struggling to stop watching porn, despite multiple attempts
  • Feeling frustrated or ashamed after viewing porn but continuing to use it
  • Losing interest or being unable to perform in real-life sex
  • Feeling irritated or angry if asked to stop porn use.
  • Continuing to watch porn despite experiencing consequences such as losing your job or relationships
  • Struggling to become aroused
  • Compulsive masturbating

We have counsellors trained to help reduce your overuse of porn

Acceptance and honesty is the first step in seeking help and overcoming addiction. Porn addicts can try to find a counsellor, psychologist or support group where they can open up about the true nature and extent of their problem and equip themselves with tools and strategies to manage their addiction.

(1) Hashir Ali Awan et al, “Internet and Pornography Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Presumed Impact and What Can Be Done“, Frontiers in Psyciatry, 16 March 2021

(2) Porn Hub: Corona Virus Insights: https://www.pornhub.com/insights/corona-virus

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