According to the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), there is not enough evidence to classify pornography use or addiction as a mental health condition or link it to any negative side effects, such as depression.
According to AASECT, people may experience negative physical, spiritual, or psychological consequences related to their sexual urges, thoughts, or behaviors, such as pornography use.
However, there is not currently enough evidence to support the idea that pornography use can lead to depression. That said, research has found some links between the two.
For example, one 2019 study that surveyed 507 women and 250 men found that depression seemed to raise the risk of developing a problematic relationship with pornography.
However, this was only the case for people using pornography to escape unpleasant emotions and women with sexual problems related to using pornography.
Another 2019 study found that excessive pornography use increased the risk of depression in both men and women.
How likely someone is to experience depression alongside or related to pornography use also seems to depend on how often they use it and how long their exposure to it is.
For example, one 2017 study that surveyed 582 senior male students found that 14.6% of those who used pornography more than three times per week reported experiencing depression, compared with 2.8% of individuals who reported using pornography less than once per week.
The same study found that those who started using pornography at elementary school, junior middle school, high school, or university had depression ratios of 11.7%, 7.1%, 4.9%, and 5.9%, respectively.
Individuals who morally disapprove of pornography may also be more likely to view their relationship with pornography as addictive and feel sexual shame, which may ultimately lead to higher levels of depression.
Problematic pornography use also seems to have a positive correlation with: