Here are signs and symptoms of porn addiction:
1. Isolation: Isolation is common for people who are dealing out of control sexual behavior. When people are dealing with porn addictions, this is a common symptom that they and partners describe. There is often an increased pulling away from the family and other responsibilities.
Isolation is often used as a tool to manage stress and other difficult emotions. Pornography, dating apps, and other technology can often be used as numbing tools. Numbing alone isn’t an addiction, but numbing can lead to compulsive behavior.
2. Irritability: Irritability is common with sexual compulsivity. When people are making behavioral changes, this is can be due to anxiety that comes from abrupt changes in behavior. Some also experience a loss that goes with making big life changes. Counseling can often help people increase tolerance to discomfort.
3. Shame: For some people struggling with sex addiction, shame can be a serious problem. Low shame resilience isn’t caused by compulsive behaviors, but it certainly can reinforce negative feelings about yourself. When shame increases, so does the risk of compulsive behavior. Many have been discovered cheating and telling lies. This can lead to serious feelings of disconnection. Shame resilience is important in any recovery plan.
4. Depression: Depression can be something that leads to out of control sexual behavior or something that increases from dealing with an addiction. Without out of control behavior, you might be face-to-face with the lack of connection that you’re having with your partner. Some deal with feelings such as boredom, which are related to depression. Others deal with more intense feelings of depression. Either way, these things are important to address. Therapies such as Somatic Experiencing, EMDR, ACT, and CBT can be helpful.
5. Loss of Interest: During sex addiction recovery, you may experience loss of interest in addition to your depression. This can be a loss of interest in many things, including sex itself. It can be difficult to stay mentally present and engaged. This isn’t something that changes overnight, but it’s something that you’ll want to work on with your therapist in your recovery.
6. Relapse: Relapsing is common. It’s also complicated. Those who identify as addicts use the term relapse to describe them returning to old coping behaviors. This term can help those who identify as addicts.
Others who don’t identify with the term addiction, often still struggle to make life changes in their behavior patterns.
Whether the term fits or not, people have to deal with guilt and shame that they feel about motivation to change.
7. Mood Swings: Mood swings are to be expected as you adjust to life with new coping behaviors. As you distance yourself from the out of control behavior, your mind and body will become better adjusted to life with balance. During this process, however, you may experience anger, sadness, fear, anxiety, and more during various part of the day for no particular reason.
8. Relationship issues: Whether people are in long term relationships or not, relationship strain is common when dealing with out of control behaviors. This can be a relationship with others, but also your relationship with yourself. It’s important to develop relationships that have boundaries and can build trust and commitment.
9. Dysphoria: This symptom is commonly overlooked but some may experience when recovering from sex addiction. Dysphoria is a state of severe unease or dissatisfaction with one’s life, body, or overall circumstances. It is closely related to depression, but it may be specifically attached to feeling uneasy about recovery or making life changes. This can make it difficult to stick with plans long enough for changes to occur. The best way to deal with this symptom is to speak openly to your doctor or counselor and learn which options are available to you.
10. Sexual Avoidance: It’s pretty common for people to feel so ashamed that they end up avoiding sex altogether. This can be because you feel unworthy of sex from the shame that you’re experiencing. Sexual avoidance can be another extreme and can become its own type of compulsion.