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Depression: It’s Not Your Serotonin

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This article was written by Dr. Kelly Brogan, posted here with permission.

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Millions believe depression is caused by ‘serotonin deficiency,’ but where is the science in support of this theory?

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“Depression is a serious medical condition that may be due to a chemical imbalance, and Zoloft works to correct this imbalance.”

Herein lies the serotonin myth.

As one of only two countries in the world that permits direct to consumer advertising, you have undoubtedly been subjected to promotion of the “cause of depression.” A cause that is not your fault, but rather; a matter of too few little bubbles passing between the hubs in your brain! Don’t add that to your list of worries, though, because there is a convenient solution awaiting you at your doctor’s office…

What if I told you that, in 6 decades of research, the serotonin (or norepinephrine, or dopamine) theory of depression and anxiety has not achieved scientific credibility?

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You’d want some supporting arguments for this shocking claim.

So, here you go:

The Science of Psychiatry is Myth

Rather than some embarrassingly reductionist, one-deficiency-one-illness-one-pill model of mental illness, contemporary exploration of human behavior has demonstrated that we may know less than we ever thought we did.  And that what we do know about root causes of mental illness seems to have more to do with the concept of evolutionary mismatch than with genes and chemical deficiencies.

In fact, a meta-analysis of over 14,000 patients and Dr. Insel, head of the NIMH, had this to say:

“Despite high expectations, neither genomics nor imaging has yet impacted the diagnosis or treatment of the 45 million Americans with serious or moderate mental illness each year.”

To understand what imbalance is, we must know what balance looks like, and neuroscience, to date, has not characterized the optimal brain state, nor how to even assess for it.

A New England Journal of Medicine review on Major Depression, stated:

” … numerous studies of norepinephrine and serotonin metabolites in plasma, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid as well as postmortem studies of the brains of patients with depression, have yet to identify the purported deficiency reliably.”

The data has poked holes in the theory and even the field of psychiatry itself is putting down its sword. One of my favorite essays by Lacasse and Leo has compiled sentiments from influential thinkers in the field – mind you, these are conventional clinicians and researchers in mainstream practice – who have broken rank, casting doubt on the entirety of what psychiatry has to offer around antidepressants:

Humble Origins of a Powerful Meme

In the 1950s, reserpine, initially introduced to the US market as an anti-seizure medication, was noted to deplete brain serotonin stores in subjects, with resultant lethargy and sedation. These observations colluded with the clinical note that an anti-tuberculosis medication, iproniazid, invoked mood changes after five months of treatment in 70% of a 17 patient cohort. Finally, Dr. Joseph Schildkraut threw fairy dust on these mumbles and grumbles in 1965 with his hypothetical manifesto entitled “The Catecholamine Hypothesis of Affective Disorders” stating:

“At best, drug-induced affective disturbances can only be considered models of the natural disorders, while it remains to be demonstrated that the behavioral changes produced by these drugs have any relation to naturally occurring biochemical abnormalities which might be associated with the illness.”

Contextualized by the ripeness of a field struggling to establish biomedical legitimacy (beyond the therapeutic lobotomy!), psychiatry was ready for a rebranding, and the pharmaceutical industry was all too happy to partner in the effort.

Of course, the risk inherent in “working backwards” in this way (noting effects and presuming mechanisms) is that we tell ourselves that we have learned something about the body, when in fact, all we have learned is that patented synthesized chemicals have effects on our behavior. This is referred to as the drug-based model by Dr. Joanna Moncrieff. In this model, we acknowledge that antidepressants have effects, but that these effects in no way are curative or reparative.

The most applicable analogy is that of the woman with social phobia who finds that drinking two cocktails eases her symptoms. One could imagine how, in a 6 week randomized trial, this “treatment” could be found efficacious and recommended for daily use and even prevention of symptoms. How her withdrawal symptoms after 10 years of daily compliance could lead those around her to believe that she “needed” the alcohol to correct an imbalance. This analogy is all too close to the truth.

Running With Broken Legs

Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Carlat has said:

“And where there is a scientific vacuum, drug companies are happy to insert a marketing message and call it science. As a result, psychiatry has become a proving ground for outrageous manipulations of science in the service of profit.”

So, what happens when we let drug companies tell doctors what science is? We have an industry and a profession working together to maintain a house of cards theory in the face of contradictory evidence.

We have a global situation in which increases in prescribing are resulting in increases in severity of illness (including numbers and length of episodes) relative to those who have never been treated with medication.

To truly appreciate the breadth of evidence that states antidepressants are ineffective and unsafe, we have to get behind the walls that the pharmaceutical companies erect. We have to unearth unpublished data, data that they were hoping to keep in the dusty catacombs.

A now famous 2008 study in the New England Journal of Medicine by Turner et al sought to expose the extent of this data manipulation. They demonstrated that, from 1987 to 2004, 12 antidepressants were approved based on 74 studies. Thirty-eight were positive, and 37 of these were published.  Thirty-six were negative (showing no benefit), and 3 of these were published as such while 11 were published with a positive spin(always read the data not the author’s conclusion!), and 22 were unpublished.

In 1998 tour de force, Dr. Irving Kirsch, an expert on the placebo effect, published a metaanalysis of 3,000 patients who were treated with antidepressants, psychotherapy, placebo, or no treatment and found that only 27% of the therapeutic response was attributable to the drug’s action.

This was followed up by a 2008 review, which invoked the Freedom of Information Act to obtain access to unpublished studies, finding that, when these were included, antidepressants outperformed placebo in only 20 of 46 trials (less than half!), and that the overall difference between drugs and placebos was 1.7 points on the 52 point Hamilton Scale.  This small increment is clinically insignificant, and likely accounted for by medication side effects strategically employed (sedation or activation).

When active placebos were used, the Cochrane database found that differences between drugs and placebos disappeared, given credence to the assertion that inert placebos inflate perceived drug effects.

The finding of tremendous placebo effect in the treatment groups was also echoed in two different meta-analyses by Khan et al who found a 10% difference between placebo and antidepressant efficacy, and comparable suicide rates. The most recent trial examining the role of “expectancy” or belief in antidepressant effect, found that patients lost their perceived benefit if they believed that they might be getting a sugar pill even if they were continued on their formerly effective treatment dose of Prozac.

The largest, non-industry funded study, costing the public $35 million dollars, followed 4000 patients treated with Celexa (not blinded, so they knew what they were getting), and found that half of them improved at 8 weeks. Those that didn’t were switched to Wellbutrin, Effexor, or Zoloft OR “augmented” with Buspar or Wellbutrin.

Guess what? It didn’t matter what was done, because they remitted at the same unimpressive rate of 18-30% regardless with only 3% of patients in remission at 12 months.

How could it be that medications like Wellbutrin, which purportedly primarily disrupt dopamine signaling, and medications like Stablon which theoretically enhances the reuptake of serotonin, both work to resolve this underlying imbalance? Why would thyroid, benzodiazepines, beta blockers, and opiates also “work”? And what does depression have in common with panic disorder, phobias, OCD, eating disorders, and social anxiety that all of these diagnoses would warrant the same exact chemical fix?

Alternative options

As a holistic clinician, one of my bigger pet peeves is the use of amino acids and other nutraceuticals with  “serotonin-boosting” claims. These integrative practitioners have taken a page from the allopathic playbook and are seeking to copy-cat what they perceive antidepressants to be doing.

The foundational “data” for the modern serotonin theory of mood utilizes tryptophan depletion methods which involve feeding volunteers amino acid mixtures without tryptophan and are rife with complicated interpretations.

Simply put, there has never been a study that demonstrates that this intervention causes mood changes in any patients who have not been treated with antidepressants.

In an important paper entitled Mechanism of acute tryptophan depletion: Is it only serotonin?, van Donkelaar et al caution clinicians and researchers about the interpretation of tryptophan research. They clarify that there are many potential effects of this methodology, stating:

“In general, several findings support the fact that depression may not be caused solely by an abnormality of 5-HT function, but more likely by a dysfunction of other systems or brain regions modulated by 5-HT or interacting with its dietary precursor. Similarly, the ATD method does not seem to challenge the 5-HT system per se, but rather triggers 5HT-mediated adverse events.”

So if we cannot confirm the role of serotonin in mood and we have good reason to believe that antidepressant effect is largely based on belief, then why are we trying to “boost serotonin”?

Causing imbalances

All you have to do is spend a few minutes on http://survivingantidepressants.org/or http://beyondmeds.com/ to appreciate that we have created a monster. Millions of men, women, and children the world over are suffering, without clinical guidance (because this is NOT a part of medical training) to discontinue psychiatric meds. I have been humbled, as a clinician who seeks to help these patients, by what these medications are capable of. Psychotropic withdrawal can make alcohol and heroin detox look like a breeze.

An important analysis by the former director of the NIMH makes claims that antidepressants “create perturbations in neurotransmitter functions” causing the body to compensate through a series of adaptations which occur after “chronic administration” leading to brains that function, after a few weeks, in a way that is “qualitatively as well as quantitatively different from the normal state.”

Changes in beta-adrenergic receptor density, serotonin autoreceptor sensitivity, and serotonin turnover all struggle to compensate for the assault of the medication.

Andrews, et al., calls this “oppositional tolerance,” and demonstrate through a careful meta-analysis of 46 studies demonstrating that patient’s risk of relapse is directly proportionate to how “perturbing” the medication is, and is always higher than placebo (44.6% vs 24.7%). They challenge the notion that findings of decreased relapse on continued medication represent anything other than drug-induced response to discontinuation of a substance to which the body has developed tolerance. They go a step further to add:

“For instance, in naturalistic studies, unmedicated patients have much shorter episodes, and better long-term prospects, than medicated patients. Several of these studies have found that the average duration of an untreated episode of major depression is 12–13 weeks.”

Harvard researchers also concluded that at least fifty percent of drug-withdrawn patients relapsed within 14 months. In fact:

“Long-term antidepressant use may be depressogenic . . . it is possible that antidepressant agents modify the hardwiring of neuronal synapses (which) not only render antidepressants ineffective but also induce a resident, refractory depressive state.”

So, when your doctor says, “You see, look how sick you are, you shouldn’t have stopped that medication,” you should know that the data suggests that your symptoms are withdrawal, not relapse.

Longitudinal studies demonstrate poor functional outcomes for those treated with 60% of patients still meeting diagnostic criteria at one year (despite transient improvement within the first 3 months). When baseline severity is controlled for, two prospective studies support a worse outcome in those prescribed medication:

One in which the never-medicated group experienced a 62% improvement by six months, whereas the drug-treated patients experienced only a 33% reduction in symptoms, and another WHO study of depressed patients in 15 cities which found that, at the end of one year, those who weren’t exposed to psychotropic medications enjoyed much better “general health”; that their depressive symptoms were much milder”; and that they were less likely to still be “mentally ill.” 

I’m not done yet. In a retrospective 10-year study in the Netherlands, 76% of those with unmedicated depression recovered without relapse relative to 50% of those treated.

Unlike the mess of contradictory studies around short-term effects, there are no comparable studies that show a better outcome in those prescribed antidepressants long term.

First Do No Harm

So, we have a half-baked theory in a vacuum of science that that pharmaceutical industry raced to fill. We have the illusion of short-term efficacy and assumptions about long-term safety. But are these medications actually killing people?

The answer is yes.

Unequivocally, antidepressants cause suicidal and homicidal behavior. The Russian Roulette of patients vulnerable to these “side effects” is only beginning to be elucidated and may have something to do with genetic variants around metabolism of these chemicals.  Dr. David Healy has worked tirelessly to expose the data that implicates antidepressants in suicidality and violence, maintaining a database for reporting, writing, and lecturing about cases of medication-induced death that could make your soul wince.

What about our most vulnerable?

I have countless patients in my practice who report new onset of suicidal ideation within weeks of starting an antidepressant. In a population where there are only 2 randomized trials, I have grave concerns about postpartum women who are treated with antidepressants before more benign and effective interventions such as dietary modification and thyroid treatment. Hold your heart as you read through these reportsof women who took their own and their childrens’ lives while treated with medications.

Then there is the use of these medications in children as young as 2 years old. How did we ever get the idea that this was a safe and effective treatment for this demographic? Look no further than data like Study 329, which cost Glaxo Smith Klein 3 billion dollars for their efforts to promote antidepressants to children. These efforts required ghost-written and manipulated data that suppressed a signal of suicidality, falsely represented Paxil as outperforming placebo, and contributes to an irrepressible mountain of harmdone to our children by the field of psychiatry.

RIP Monoamine Theory

As Moncrieff and Cohen so succinctly state:

“Our analysis indicates that there are no specific antidepressant drugs, that most of the short-term effects of antidepressants are shared by many other drugs, and that long-term drug treatment with antidepressants or any other drugs has not been shown to lead to long-term elevation of mood. We suggest that the term “antidepressant” should be abandoned.”

So, where do we turn?

The field of psychoneuroimmunology dominates the research as an iconic example of how medicine must surpass its own simplistic boundaries if we are going to begin to chip away at the some 50% of Americans who will struggle with mood symptoms, 11% of whom will be medicated for it.

There are times in our evolution as a cultural species when we need to unlearn what we think we know. We have to move out of the comfort of certainty and into the freeing light of uncertainty. It is from this space of acknowledged unknowing that we can truly grow. From my vantage point, this growth will encompass a sense of wonder – both a curiosity about what symptoms of mental illness may be telling us about our physiology and spirit, as well as a sense of humbled awe at all that we do not yet have the tools to appreciate. For this reason, honoring our co-evolution with the natural world, and sending the body a signal of safety through movement, diet, meditation, and environmental detoxification represents our most primal and most powerful tool for healing.


Learn more by taking Dr. Kelly Brogan’s E-Course Vital Mind Reset.

GreenMedInfo LLC. . This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of GreenMedInfo LLC.  Where it first originally appeared. Want to learn more from GreenMedInfo? Sign up for the newsletter here http://www.greenmedinfo.com/greenmed/newsletter.”


Dr. Brogan is boarded in Psychiatry/Psychosomatic Medicine/Reproductive Psychiatry and Integrative Holistic Medicine, and practices Functional Medicine, a root-cause approach to illness as a manifestation of multiple-interrelated systems. After studying Cognitive Neuroscience at M.I.T., and receiving her M.D. from Cornell University, she completed her residency and fellowship at Bellevue/NYU. She is one of the nation’s only physicians with perinatal psychiatric training who takes a holistic evidence-based approach in the care of patients with a focus on environmental medicine and nutrition. She is also a mom of two, and an active supporter of women’s birth experience. She is the Medical Director for Fearless Parent, and an advisory board member for GreenMedInfo.comVisit her website.

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Awareness

The Physicians For Informed Consent Ask If The MMR Vaccine Is More Dangerous Than The Measles

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What Happened: The Physicians for Informed Consent (PIC) are a group of doctors and scientists from around the world who have come together to support informed consent when it comes to mandatory vaccine measures. Their information is based on science. Their mission is to deliver data on infectious diseases and vaccines, and to unite doctors, scientists, healthcare professionals, attorneys, and families who support voluntary vaccinations. Their vision is that doctors and the public are able to evaluate the data on infectious diseases and vaccines objectively and voluntarily engage in informed decision-making about vaccination. 

You can check out their directors, advisors, and founding members here.

The organization itself is much bigger than the founding members, and includes a coalition of organizations, doctors and scientists.

On their website, they’ve put out some excellent downloadable PDF’s with regards to the MMR vaccine. There are four of them that all present different points.

  1. MEASLES: What Parents Need To Know
  2. MMR VACCINE: Is It Safer Than Measles? 
  3. Waning Immunity & The MMR Vaccine 
  4. FAQ’s: The MMR Vaccine versus the Measles

One of them deals with “what parents need to know about the measles vaccine” and another one presents the information that has them questioning if the MMR vaccine is safer than the measles. They point out that the chances of dying from measles and make many comparisons to the vaccine.

According to a MedAlerts search of the FDA Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database, as of 2/5/19, the cumulative raw count of adverse events from measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines alone was: 93,929 adverse events, 1,810 disabilities, 6,902 hospitalizations, and 463 deaths. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act has paid out approximately $4 billion to compensate families of vaccine-injured children. As astronomical as the monetary awards are, they’re even more alarming considering HHS claims that only an estimated 1% of vaccine injuries are even reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS).

The PDF’s are well-sourced and laid out in an easy to read and understand type of manner, and quite detailed. Their arguments are quite compelling, and it would be interesting to present this information to a physician on the opposite end of the spectrum in order to hear or read their rebuttal. So feel free to take a look at them if interested!

Why This Is Important: When it comes to both our individual and collective health, all of us simply want what’s best. Nobody can really deny that, especially for our children. The issue is, many people have been made to believe that vaccines are for the greater good of everybody. We are made to believe that children, for example, who are not vaccinated are actually a danger to the vaccinated children.

The Physicians for Informed Consent are well aware of this argument, and they present a lot of information on why that’s not true. At the end of the day, in order to produce “herd immunity” from vaccines, the vaccines must be 100 percent effective for everybody, all of the time. We already know that that’s not the case and that a large majority are susceptible to vaccine injury. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury act alone is enough to argue against mandatory vaccination and the idea that the unvaccinated are a risk to the vaccinated. In fact, vaccines have been known to spread diseases. This has happened with polio as well as the measles.

For example, during the measles outbreak in California in 2015, a large number of suspected cases occurred in recent vaccinees. Of the 194 measles virus sequences obtained in the United States in 2015, 73 were identified as vaccine sequences. The media (Pharma-owned) generated high public anxiety. This fear-mongering led to the demonization of unvaccinated children, who were perceived as the spreaders of this disease. Rebecca J. McNall, a co-author of the published report, is a CDC official in the Division of Viral Diseases who had the data proving that the measles outbreak was in part caused by the vaccine. It is evidence of the vaccine’s failure to provide immunity. (source)

There are actually decades of examples when it comes to the measles.

The Takeaway

Vaccinations are quite a controversial topic, and vaccine hesitancy continues to increase among not only the global citizenry, but among doctors and physicians as well, which was also expressed at the recent World Health Organization vaccine summit. You can read more about that here.

In today’s day and age, it’s important to ask ourselves if measures taken under the guise of goodwill are really necessary and good for us. Take terrorism, for example, the idea that those who fund the problem, arm the problem, and in some cases create the problem then propose the solution of foreign infiltration, again, under the guise of goodwill.

So what were the real intentions, to stop the terrorists or to take over the country for natural resources and economic power and control?

Are people capitalizing off of the coronavirus? Not just for profit but for control, like Edward Snowden mentioned?

It’s also important to note that pharmaceutical companies hold tremendous lobbying power, even more so than big oil. (source)

Ask yourself, should we not have the right to decide for ourselves what goes into our body? Especially when there is a tremendous amount of flawed logic with the idea of mass vaccinations? Should we not have access to appropriate double blind placebo controlled safety studies? How come there are none for vaccines?

Why are there massive ridicule campaigns against organizations, professionals and people who create awareness about vaccine safety? Is vaccine safety not in the best interests of everybody? Should we not be analyzing and questioning instead of simply believing?

We must ask ourselves if we want to continue to give our consciousness and perceptions about certain medications over to these global and federal health authorities or, is it time to start asking more questions and pointing out facts that don’t really resonate? Why is discussion being discouraged, censored and even punished?

Why is Julian Assange in Jail? Why do we jail those who expose crimes and identify with those who commit them?

At the end of the day, vaccines are not a one size fits all product, and that’s quite clear. There are risks associated with vaccines, and evidence suggests that they are nowhere near as rare as they’re made out to be.

If we can come together as billions and shut down for the coronavirus, imagine what we could do if we come together to oppose measures that we as a citizenry, and as an entire collective, do not desire.

 

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Alternative News

Soft Drink Companies Caught Using Big Tobacco’s Playbook To Lure Young Children

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Documents obtained by researchers clearly outline the unethical and immoral actions Tobacco companies used to 'hook' kids onto sugary drinks. They use the same tactics they did for smoking.

  • Reflect On:

    Why do and have our federal health regulatory agencies allow such products to be approved as safe for consumption when they are clearly linked to a variety of diseases, like cancer?

Many moves made by multiple big corporations are extremely unethical, immoral, and downright shocking. These corporations have completely compromised our federal health regulatory agencies, and it’s quite clear that they do not care about the health of the human race and will do anything when it comes to the success of the products they manufacture, including taking illegal and/or immoral actions.

One of the more recent examples comes from the tobacco industry. Companies within the industry used colors, flavors, and marketing techniques to lure and entice children as potential future smokers. They actually used and applied these same strategies to sweetened beverages starting as early as 1963, according to a study conducted by researchers at UC San Francisco.

As the Sugar Scientists point out:

The study, which draws from a cache of previously secret documents from the tobacco industry that is part of the UCSF Industry Documents Library tracked the acquisition and subsequent marketing campaigns of sweetened drink brands by two leading tobacco companies: R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris. It found that as tobacco was facing increased scrutiny from health authorities, its executives transferred the same products and tactics to peddle soft drinks. The study was published in the March 2019 issue of BMJ.

“Executives in the two largest U.S.-based tobacco companies had developed colors and flavors as additives for cigarettes and used them to build major children’s beverage product lines, including Hawaiian Punch, Kool-Aid, Tang and Capri Sun,” said senior author Laura Schmidt, PhD, MSW, MPH, of the UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. “Even after the tobacco companies sold these brands to food and beverage corporations, many of the product lines and marketing techniques designed to attract kids are still in use today.” (source)

The new papers, which are available in the UCSF Truth Tobacco Industry Documents Library, a subset of the UCSF Industry Documents Library, reveal the close and tight knit relationships between the big tobacco and big food industries. In fact, in the 60s and 70s, these companies conducted taste tests with mothers and their children to evaluate sweetness, colors and flavors for Hawaiian Punch product line extensions. The children’s preferences were prioritized.

Kool-Aid Joins Marlboro

Meanwhile, tobacco competitor Philip Morris had acquired Kool-Aid, via General Foods, in 1985. The company flipped its marketing audience from families to children, created its “Kool-Aid Man” mascot, and launched collaborations with branded toys, including Barbie and Hot Wheels. It also developed a children’s Kool-Aid loyalty program described as “our version of the Marlboro Country Store,” a cigarette incentives program. (source)

“The Wacky Wild Kool-Aid style campaign had tremendous reach and impact,” said first author Kim Nguyen, ScD, MPH, who is also with the UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. “Lots of kids in the ’80s dreamed of getting swag from the Wacky Warehouse. What is really ‘wacky’ is that the Kool-Aid kid program was modeled after a tobacco marketing strategy designed to build allegiance with smokers.”

The tobacco giant also acquired Capri Sun and Tang, and used similar child-focused integrated marketing strategies to drive those sales.

“The industry claims that these tobacco-inspired marketing strategies are not actually targeting children and should be excluded from these industry-led agreements,” said Schmidt. “But the evidence cited in our research shows that these product lines and marketing techniques were specifically designed for and tested on children.” (source)

The UCSF Industry Documents Library was launched in 2002 as a digital portal for tobacco documents. Today, the library includes close to 15 million internal tobacco, drug, chemical and food industry documents used by scientists, policymakers, journalists and community members in their efforts to improve and protect the health of the public.

The Takeaway

At the end of the day, it’s important to recognize that government health authorities and the corporations we buy our food from, among other things, really don’t care about us. This has become extremely evident, as they are responsible for the sharp rise in numerous diseases. It’s not uncommon to see parents buy their children products similar to the ones listed above, and that’s due to mass brainwashing and the fact that we’ve been made to feel that these products are actually safe. This is why awareness is so critical.

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Awareness

Why A Growing Number of People Are Abstaining From Porn & Masturbation

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They are known as “fapstronauts,” and they are part of a growing community of hundreds of thousands of men and women who are abstaining from masturbation to internet pornography.

Their community is called “NoFap,” and its founder, Alexander Rhodes, is a man on a mission to educate and inspire the world about the damaging effects of masturbating to porn.

What could possibly be wrong with harmless masturbation, you might wonder? Aren’t we meant to enjoy the simple pleasure centres of our bodies?

According to Rhodes, masturbating to porn isn’t harmless at all. In fact, it is a silent epidemic of disastrous proportion.

“The emergence of internet pornography has changed the landscape of sexual development and relationships in a way never-before-seen in human history,” he said during his speech at the Out of the Shadows national press conference. “As a result, countless people are having their sexual tastes shaped by porn producers rather than real, human, experiences. These days, exposure to pornography seems to be a virtual certainty and young men [and women] are therefore automatically ‘opted-in’ to potential addiction, relational difficulty, porn-induced erectile dysfunction, and more,” he continued.

During his speech, Rhodes discusses the idea that porn is a relatively new variable in human evolution, and we are only beginning to see the repercussions of its use arise in the current generation of men and women.

He says exposure to porn is so rampant that it is practically mandatory for children to come into contact with some image or video before puberty. He quotes an Australian study which asked 258 male participants about their exposure to porn. Only one reported they’d never been exposed. Even more concerning, the median age of first exposure was 13 for males and 16 for females.

In this way, Rhodes says, kids are learning about sexuality through porn before their first kiss.

Frequent masturbation to porn is causing erectile dysfunction in a generation of men.

Today, a large community of “fapstronauts” is coming forward to talk about the impact this exposure has had on their lives. They report heavy reliance on porn and masturbation is manifesting in disturbing ways­ — erectile dysfunction (ED) and anorgasmia, the inability to orgasm during partnered sex, being a few of them.

According to a Kinsey report, in 1948 less than 1% of men under 30 had ED. In 2012, Swiss researchers found this number at 30%.

And the effects of watching porn span far beyond the physical, says Rhodes.

“Different studies on porn users are showing associations with sexual dysfunction, brain hypofrontality, desensitization, sensitization to porn cues, increased stress, less motivation, relationship problems, decreased sexual satisfaction, and other life-altering detriments.”
(For an extensive list of research articles on the effects of porn, click here.)

Numerous scientific studies have found that excessive porn use has biological and behavioural ramifications.

Rhodes also stresses that he and the NoFap community are in no way ‘sex negative’:

Being skeptical of pornography is not the same thing as being sex negative – there’s a huge difference between pornography and sex. In porn, the viewer is a voyeur, rather than a participant. It is on a screen. It is available in virtually endless amounts and pirated all over porn tube sites without monetary cost. It is always accessible, just a tap or click away. To our brain’s reward system, this can be an especially enticing quick and repeatable path to an orgasm, compared to partnered sex. In fact, many people who are quitting porn are doing so in the pursuit of better sex. Quitting porn is sex positive.

He notes many NoFap community members are there to improve their interpersonal relationships, whether it be for a marriage, a relationship, or single life. For others, it is simply a challenge of willpower — to seize control of your sexuality and turn it into superpowers.

“There are many, many different reasons to join but we’re all on NoFap with one goal – to help each other abstain from PMO (porn/masturbation/orgasm).”

Men And Women Report Incredible Life Shifts After Quitting Porn and Masturbation

Within the many pages of the NoFap forums, whether directly on the NoFap website or within the large and fast-growing Reddit community, it is easy to see the profound shifts taking place for people who’ve succeeded in the NoFap challenge, which consists of setting an intention to abstain from masturbation and watching porn for a certain amount of time and then riding it out.

The NoFap community is growing at a rapid pace.

Participants report diverse and overwhelmingly positive results from their efforts, like increased confidence, reduced anxiety, improved focus and memory, increased concentration, improved social skills, deeper sleeps, enhanced abilities to feel emotions, less brain fog, and even seemingly being more attractive to females.

While some might say these are rather normal powers, fapstronauts say that after years of feeling depressed, scattered. and unmotivated, the onset of these new changes feel as incredible as real ‘ superpowers‘ would.

One user, “borninthenorthwest,” said committing to NoFap altered his attitudes toward sex and women entirely:

My relationship with porn began at the age of 13 with nude Playboy photos of Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy. This was in the days of dial-up Internet, and I was initiated by my childhood best friend at the time. Although this did not seem pornographic, relative to what my peers were beginning to look at, I now see that this was the beginning. It began a cycle where every woman I met was judged by these photogenic standards, and felt no real attraction towards most girls in high school, despite being popular and well-liked for my prowess on the guitar.

He explained his warped attitude toward women posed issues in his sex life.

“None of the girls I met in college could compare to the standards in my own mind. What few girls I was attracted to, I felt incapable of asking out for a date, and often would simply fantasize about them instead.”

He admits he developed an addiction to porn, and at 31 he discovered the NoFap community.

“Since then my relationship with both pornography and far more innocent triggers is vastly different. I no longer use porn at all, and no longer place the celebrity notion of beauty on the pedestal either, and am interested in real life and real people, slowly but surely engaging in reality.”

“Fapstronauts” claim that abstaining from porn and masturbation improves their overall confidence and sex lives.

Here is what a few other fapstronauts had to say.

Thesexymountainman:

“Went to a dance last night and asked a bunch of girls to dance. Felt like a boss. A few months ago I would have been sweating and shaking doing that. I would’ve been looking at the floor with my head down like a whipped puppy trying to ask a girl to dance. Stay strong everybody! There’s life after PMO, and it’s awesome af!”

Amadadado:

“Today I am walking around with random erections all day long, like a teenager. I am in my 40s, so this feels strange.”

IronWide:

“Life is amazing and it’s only been two weeks! I have found out how much more confident I am in public, and how much more secure I feel about myself.”

TheGaurdian97:

“I finished a 300 page book in one sitting today. Before I would fall asleep or procrastinate and play on my phone. Now I can read and actually remember what I read.” 

The Most Important Takeaway

Today, Rhode’s mission is to get the message out to parents so that healthy conversations can start happening at an early age.

Educating children about sexuality and the effects of watching porn is a crucial component in preventing porn addiction and porn related side effects.

“Families need to educate their children about pornography – and they need to do so before the porn producers do, since right now minors are getting hooked on porn long before they are made aware of the potential negative effects.”

And for the ones currently suffering from porn related side effects, he offers that the treatment to these symptoms simply comes down to one thing— removing porn from their lives:

We simply want people to ask themselves the question, how is porn impacting my life and relationships? And if they do not know how porn is impacting them, they can simply take a quick break, changing one variable in a self experiment, to see what impact it might have on their lives and their relationships. Already, thousands have made the personal decision to leave porn in the past, and have gone on to live more fulfilling lives with improved interpersonal relationships. It’s time we think about and openly discuss our heavy usage of pornography. In the meantime more and more people around the world will continue to declare their autonomy and reclaim their sexualities from the porn production companies.

If you are struggling with porn addiction, or are simply curious about what others are reporting from abstaining from masturbation, join the NoFap communities through their website or on Reddit. NoFap offers many resources as well as a global support network to help you transition away from the addictive influence of porn.

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