Are you a porn addict? Find out how much is normal and when you need medication | sex and relationships | Hindustan Times
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Are you a porn addict? Find out how much is normal and when you need medication

A woman in Mumbai went to court to ban pornography as her husband was addicted to it. The issue has put the subject back in spotlight with people debating how much is normal and when one ought to consult a doctor.

sex and relationships Updated: Apr 07, 2017 08:01 IST
Sanchita Sharma
Watching too much porn can be harmful and might need a doctor’s help.
Watching too much porn can be harmful and might need a doctor’s help.(Shutterstock)

A Mumbai woman’s petition to the Supreme Court to ban pornographic sites because her 55-year-old husband was hooked to them has put the spotlight on whether watching pornography is normal or an addiction.

Unlike sex addiction, addiction to porn is not officially categorised as one in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5), the psychiatric touchstone on diagnoses and treatment.

While the jury is out on whether watching porn is normal, if watching porn is adversely affecting your life or those around you, it’s time to seek psychiatric counselling and, if needed, medication.

“It’s the quantum of time spent and how it interferes with your social life and productivity is what defines whether you need support to stop,” Dr Sameer Malhotra, head of mental health and behavioural sciences at New Delhi’s Max Super Speciality Hospital, says.

Porn addiction triggers the same chemical dependence as addiction to nicotine and banned drugs.

“Watching too much porn also stimulates the dopamine reward pathways in the brain, which makes it difficult for people to stop even when they know it’s affecting their lives,” Dr Malhotra says.

Porn addiction, like other substances abuse, usually starts in adolescence but may spiral out of control, so much so that you may get more sexual gratification from watching porn than from real sexual relationships.

Watching too much porn could lead to troubled sexual behaviour in the future, particularly among teenagers, say experts. (Shutterstock)

It gradually takes over your life, becoming more important than people and situations you have to deal with through the day.

“Porn easily becomes reinforcing because the reward pathways tap into sex, which is a very basic instinctual drive, but unlike sex, getting gratification from porn is just a smartphone away,” Dr Pulkit Sharma, a clinical psychologist at New Delhi’s Imago-Centre for Self, says.

People who are impulsive, risk-seeking and prone to anxiety and depression are more likely to get addicted, as are those with higher levels of sex hormones like testosterone or estrogen.

“Psycho-social factors like an inability to form and hold on to relationships can also make you use porn as a way of getting sexual gratification,” Dr Sharma adds.

Am I addicted?

1) Watching porn gives you a high, you can’t stop
2) It’s interfering with your relationships and productivity
3) You need more time and more stimulating pornography to get aroused
4) You feel depressed and anxious when you can’t watch porn
5) You can’t stop despite it affecting your work or relationships
6) You get more gratification from porn than sexual relationships
7) It’s causing sexual dysfunction, such as impotence, premature ejaculation
8) Your sexual behaviour has become more aggressive, dominant or emotionally disconnected

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