After my first week of giving up masturbation, NoFap depression set in.
NoFap made me worse!
But I hung in there and got better slowly.
Here’s what I learned about the No Fap depression cycle and how I coped with it.
Follow my tips and you’ll feel better, too!
- Companion video
- My account of NoFap and depression
- Chemical reason for NoFap anger and depression
- Psychological reasons for NoFap depression
- Tools for coping with depression
- Main solution: Replace short-term coping with long-term thriving
- Tool 1: Be around other people and help them
- Tool 2: Leverage hedonic adaptation
- Tool 3: Leverage willpower rather than antidepressants
- Tool 4: Keep yourself busy or productive
- Tool 5: Get enough rest to renew willpower
- Tool 6: Keep feeding your mind with uplifting information
- Tool 7: Build awareness about NoFap depression
- Beat NoFap depression more easily
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 NoFap 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 the 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.
On NoFap, dopamine receptors upregulate.
You get more of them.
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 excessive masturbation, depression won’t last long.
As your brain rewires itself from PMO, 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 one major solution and a few minor tools that helped me cope with it.
Main solution: Replace short-term coping with long-term thriving
8 years ago my wife divorced me. She broke up with me and I felt broken. I felt depressed.
I watched porn as a coping mechanism for my depression. Searching online and looking for that perfect scene.
But it was just a quick escape, just for a few short minutes. I felt fantastic but then I would feel even more depressed.
Now I know that with porn being such a huge overstimulation, the higher I got the harder I crashed. Until I desensitized myself to porn and wanted more intense and more evil stuff.
At that point, I realized that this coping mechanism just doesn’t work for me. The solution was not in looking for spikes of happiness but in finding a level where I would feel content all the time.
Instead of coping, I wanted to thrive. Thriving for me meant working on the root cause of my depression. I had to fix my loneliness.
I went to work on my dating skills. Even though I didn’t get many results at the beginning, I already felt better because I was growing.
And then I found a girlfriend.
Coping doesn’t work long-term — whether you’re depressed on NoFap or because of anything else. It only gives you a short-term escape that comes with opportunity cost and more pain.
Opportunity cost: you know you’re wasting your time and potential.
More pain: the higher you go with porn, the harder you crash. Every single time, you’re more and more depressed.
The solution is to replace short-term coping with long-term thriving.
Find your root cause:
- Get a girlfriend
- Get a job you like
- Hit the gym
Working on these things will make you feel content even if you don’t get results right away. And when you do get results, you’ll thrive.
Now, be a hero who thrives, not copes.
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.
Tool 7: Build awareness about NoFap depression
A follower Brent Hurley feels depression on Nofap and wants to do a PMO session. But after he succumbs to an urge, he feels even worse.
He realized that he regrets relapsing too much. Even though he had really bad flatlines, none of them were as bad those times when he relapsed. These were the truly worst times of his life.
That’s because he catches himself in the negative cycle of porn:
Depression on NoFap or anxiety → Porn Dopamine as a coping mechanism → More depression or anxiety
When Brent became aware of this negative cycle, it’s become easier for him to break it.
After all, awareness is half the cure.
A good start is to listen to this podcast I did recently with Kingsley Moyo:
Why do I feel depressed on NoFap Day 10?
No Fap depression is real. If you feel depressed on the 10th day of NoFap, it’s normal.
I was addicted to porn and jerking off for 17 years. Each time I watched porn, I got so much dopamine from it. My brain got so addicted to that easily accessible dopamine.
And then suddenly I went NoFap, cutting access to all that free dopamine fix. My brain went bonkers—it wanted dopamine back.
But because there was none, my brain made me feel bad: unmotivated, angry, sad. That’s why I know that No Fap depression is real. With that depression, my brain pushed me to crave porn dopamine 2x.
I realized that losing access to dopamine so quickly was too difficult. I allowed myself to have a NoFap relapse after 7 days instead. But I promised to make my next NoFap streak 8 days.
I wasn’t giving up on my Hero’s journey. I was being strategic. No Fap depression is real and not a joke. I had to respect it
Why No Fap transforms you for life❓
I had depression before doing No Fap. And when I started NoFap, I got even more depressed.
But then I saw how fapping was holding me back from seeing the psychological deficit behind my depression. Instead of focusing on healing the depression, I was focused on my mental war with PMO.
When I took a step back from PMO, I finally had the mental firepower to see my psychological deficit. It was my loneliness. I craved intimacy and love after my wife broke up with me.
The next step was working on that root cause while also continuing with NoFap. I started developing social skills.
I learned the theory of social success and started to go out to practice. My journey was brutal at first and I got rejected a lot. But eventually, I got better socially.
Finally, I got an amazing girlfriend. She was one of the most beautiful women I ever met. That’s when I started to believe that I can deserve a great partner.
With that success and confidence, I healed the root cause of my depression—loneliness. And I changed for life. These social skills help me every day. They make me certain that I will never return to that loneliness.
And I won’t need to fap to soothe my depression.
Beat NoFap depression more easily
There you go, my NoFap experience with depression. Having been there, I know exactly how you feel. And my goal is to help you through depression during NoFap.
When it hits, it’s good to have someone who has been there and understands you. One way I can help is by sharing my story and best tips for making it through a 90-day brain reboot.
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