NoFap Depression after Week One (And Easy-to-Use Tools for Coping with It)
After my first week of giving up masturbation, NoFap depression set in.
I felt unmotivated and prone to mood swings.
But I hung in there and got better slowly.
Here’s what I learned about No Fap depression and how I coped with it.
Follow my tips and you’ll feel better, too!
Check out the companion video if you don’t want to read:
My account of NoFap and depression
I’ve had a mild addiction to PMO (Porn, Masturbation, Orgasm) since childhood.
It provided a convenient escape from feeling bored or facing a challenge.
But I also hated the feelings of guilt and regret that came with it.
So I said, “No more!” and started NoFap.
6 years later, the answer to the question “Is NoFap legit?” is crystal clear to me.
It absolutely is. I’d never want to go back and give up all the exciting NoFap benefits.
But getting to this place required willpower and coping with depression.
One week later, I experienced these PMO withdrawal symptoms:
- Lack of motivation to do anything
- Intense mood swings between euphoria and depression states
What caused them?
Chemical reason for NoFap anger and depression
No matter how happy you feel about going NoFap, your brain will still give you a hard time.
Here’s why it does this.
Downregulation of dopamine receptors
PMO floods your brain with neurotransmitter dopamine associated with pleasure and motivation.
High dopamine levels cause the number of dopamine receptors in the brain to decrease.
This is called downregulation: more masturbation leads to fewer dopamine receptors.
As a result, your capability to feel pleasure from anything decreases. You need more and more stimulation. That’s why people go for more bizarre porn or use stimulants for a stronger orgasm.
Upregulation of dopamine receptors
When you start NoFap, a reverse process happens.
Your number of dopamine receptors increases.
This is called upregulation.
As a result, you become more susceptible to dopamine.
So if you’re wondering, “Does NoFap make you happier?”, that’s the answer.
You don’t need masturbation to feel terrific.
With more dopamine receptors, you start feeling pleasure from simpler things.
What do I make of these processes?
Here’s the tricky part.
Downregulation happens quickly but upregulation is a slow process.
That’s why we develop cravings and addictions almost immediately.
But overcoming them takes much more time.
And while you’re in the beginning stages of No Fap, depressed might become your normal state.
Depression is the way our brain fights for high levels of dopamine it’s used to.
That’s when you find yourself wondering, “Is NoFap worth doing?”
The most important thing at this point is to keep at it. I know it’s difficult but make sure you don’t fap during depression. If you persist long enough, the NoFap first-week depression will go away inevitably.
Psychological reasons for NoFap depression
Addiction to PMO makes us predisposed to depression:
- We already feel guilty about masturbation.
- We regret the time and effort lost.
- We hate the feeling of not being in control.
For me, going NoFap was a bittersweet experience.
I liked how I exercised the willpower to quit masturbation.
But I also felt depressed because of those feelings of guilt, regret, and being weak in the past.
Opening our eyes to problems
Another common reason for depression is facing our problems.
PMO is an easy way to escape our challenges.
But when we go NoFap, we open our eyes to those problems.
And this realization hits us hard.
For example, when I stopped masturbation, I realized I wasn’t doing my best as a husband and a father.
That left me feeling depressed and wanting to masturbate to escape this feeling.
Tools for coping with depression
The good news is that now that you gave up masturbation, depression won’t last long.
As your brain rewires itself, you’ll feel calmer, happier, and more motivated.
But I know sometimes it’s really hard not to give up.
For me, it was always something challenging, e.g., at work, that tempted me to masturbate.
Because I already felt depressed, tackling other challenges felt too tiring.
But I pressed on, and soon enough, my depression on NoFap went away.
Now let’s go over a few tools that helped me cope with it.
Tool 1: Be around other people and help them
When we’re depressed, being around other people makes us feel better.
When I was alone, I was stuck in my head, feeling sorry for myself.
But talking to other people helped me stop being egocentric.
I realized there was more than just myself and my depression.
And if I was able to help somebody, I felt even better.
That said, if you’re a loner, then the fourth tool will help you.
Tool 2: Leverage hedonic adaptation
Another tool that helped me was reframing my depression as hedonic adaptation.
Humans have this ability to adjust to our current level of comfort.
Although it does take time and patience, we can be sure hedonic adaptation will happen.
I knew it worked because I had used it to beat my sugar cravings once.
I gave up sugar almost completely over a period of a few years.
In the meantime, I developed a craving for broccoli!
That’s hedonic adaptation: I let my receptors adjust to a less stimulating source of pleasure and still felt happy.
So when I had NoFap depression, I knew hedonic adaptation would occur eventually.
This helped me reframe negative thoughts more positively.
Tool 3: Leverage willpower rather than antidepressants
I’m not a doctor so use my advice with caution.
I never used antidepressants because the very idea seems counterproductive to me.
When I went NoFap, I wanted to take control of my dopamine levels so that I felt great on less dopamine.
But antidepressants such as norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors do the opposite.
They increase the amount of dopamine in the brain!
These drugs would’ve messed up with my neurotransmitters.
They wouldn’t have let my brain rewire healthily.
That said, I’d leave antidepressants for situations when you feel incapable of life.
Otherwise, fuel your NoFap motivation instead to keep going.
Tool 4: Keep yourself busy or productive
Urges come mainly when we don’t have anything to do and feel bored.
But when you keep your mind focused on an activity, it has little space to trick you.
Focus is one of the three parts of Tony Robbins’s Triad.
The other two are physiology and language.
Here’s an example of how to use all three:
- Physiology: Get out of your house. Take a walk. Ride a bike. Go on a hike. Discover a new place.
- Focus: Focus on the activity and your urges will decrease.
- Language: Catch yourself saying disempowering things to yourself. You could be saying, “I want PMO so badly. Why can’t I have it?” Replace it with an empowering incantation, e.g., “The old me is dying and the new me is rising from the ashes like a Phoenix.”
Tool 5: Get enough rest to renew willpower
When you feel tired, your willpower is lower.
For example, when I do dopamine fasting, my willpower drains slowly.
At the end of my fasting day, I’m hungry and I feel I don’t have any willpower left.
But after I wake up the next morning, my willpower is renewed even though I’m still hungry.
Tool 6: Keep feeding your mind with uplifting information
When you get off porn, you create a void in your mind where porn was. Because of that, your brain starts to crave it twice as much as it did before.
Now, you need to give your brain something instead of porn. A good place to start is replacing it with uplifting content.
Here are a few things that help people:
- Listen to audiobooks such as Your Brain on Porn by Gary Wilson.
- Watch NoFap videos on YouTube constantly. Do it first thing in the morning.
- Read a NoFap blog like mine.
These things will give you something positive to fill your mind with. And you’ll find yourself craving porn less.
Coping with NoFap depression with coaching
As a coach, my goal is to support you through depression during NoFap.
When depression hits, it’s good to have someone who has been there and understands you.
One way I can help is by sharing my best tips for making it through a 90-day reboot process.
To do this more easily, get my “7 Proven Tips for 90 Days of No Fapping.” This is a free guide with practical tips that will minimize depression NoFap causes.