A Bad Day Or Depression, With Teens It’s Hard To Tell

Originally from http://joanigeltman.blogspot.com/2019/09/a-bad-day-or-depression-with-teens-its.html

 

I have had a number of calls recently from parents worried about their teen, trying to figure out whether their teen is just having growing pains, or is in a real depression. Teens love to dump on their parents, giving them their most angry, their most sad, their most anxious and fearful feelings. This is the good news. Think of it as colic. When the bad stuff gets expelled, then sleep and peace can come…until the next time.
 
Teens are feeling their feelings in ways they have never experienced them before. The intensity comes from an adolescent brain that is over activated in the area responsible for emotion, and literally from having some of these feelings for the first time. Without experience and a history that would have given them a game plan to deal with these feelings that are overwhelming, they are vulnerable to feeling like they might never go away. The first break-up, a humiliation on a soccer field, or a stage, the embarrassment of doing something or saying something impulsively stupid in front of your peers, the disappointment that someone you like doesn’t like you back, the worry that they are disappointing you in some way, or any one of a million other things can feel like a catastrophe.
 
So your kid comes to you in a rage, in a tantrum, sobbing uncontrollably and you feel helpless. But they are coming to you. Like a sponge, you absorb every drop of emotion. You can’t sleep, you can’t eat, you live with a pit in your stomach that your kid is in pain. But here is the thing, now that they have dumped it all on you and you have so graciously sopped it all up, they are free to go out and enjoy life again. Rinse and repeat!
 
When is it time to worry? The dumping is a good sign. The emotion is a good sign. They are working it out.  It may be hard on you, but at least they have an outlet. The worry should start, if they are not talking, isolating themselves, and really seem to have lost the up and down nature of teen life. Up and down is good. Staying down is not.  If you see your teen spending increasing amounts of time alone, in their room, avoiding family and friends, you might say something like this: ” I have noticed recently that you seem more down than usual. You seem to be spending a lot of alone time in your room away from us and your friends. I get life can be complicated and difficult and sometimes overwhelming, and you might like just getting away from it all. I used to do that to sometimes. But I worry that you are not giving yourself a chance to talk about it. If you don’t want to talk to us, I understand, maybe it would be helpful to talk to a counselor. I don’t want to bug you, but I love you, and want you to work out what seems to be bothering you. I’ll check back in with you in a few days, and we can talk about a plan.” You will probably get a “leave me alone!” but don’t let that deter you. Keep checking in, and letting them know that you are concerned. Eventually, you may just have to make an appointment and make them get in the car.
 
Seeing your teen be in pain is the worst. Giving them a safe haven to express it is a gift.
 
 

 

 

Why Porn is like a Drug

This article was taken from fightthenewdrug.org

it may be surprising, but porn affects the brain in ways very similar to harmful substances, like tobacco. Studies have shown that porn stimulates the same areas of the brain as addictive drugs, making the brain release the same chemicals. And just like drugs, porn triggers pathways in the brain that cause craving, leading users back for more and more extreme “hits” to get high.

On the surface, tobacco and porn don’t seem to have much in common. One is kept behind the counter at the gas station or supermarket because of its well-known harmful effects; the other is available virtually anywhere. One can quickly become an expensive habit while the other comes free with an internet connection. And let’s be honest, Hugh Hefner doesn’t exactly conjure images of a secretive tobacco executive.

So where’s the similarity? Inside the brain.

In case you’re not a neurosurgeon, here’s a crash course in how the brain works. Deep inside the brain, there’s something called a “reward center.” [1] You’ve got one. Your dog’s got one. For mammals, it comes standard. The reward center’s job is to release “pleasure” chemicals into your brain whenever you do something healthy, like eating tasty food, doing a hard workout, or enjoying a kiss. [2] The “high” you get from that chemical rush makes you want to repeat that behavior again and again. [3] Thanks to your reward center, your brain is hardwired to motivate you to do things that will improve your health and chances of survival. [4] It’s a great system…normally.

The problem is, the brain can be tricked.

When addictive substances are used, they give the brain a “false signal.” [5] Since the brain can’t tell the difference between the drugs and a real, healthy reward, it goes ahead and activates the reward center. [6] An important chemical called dopamine is released, which makes the brain start developing a craving for the fake reward. [7] As long as there’s a lot of dopamine floating around in the brain, the cravings will keep getting stronger, and the consumer will feel super-motivation to keep pursuing more of the drug. [8] Essentially, addictive drugs hijack the brain, turning it around and forcing it in a direction it was never meant to go. Instead of encouraging the consumer toward healthy behaviors, drugs lead the consumer into things that aren’t healthy at all, and can even be dangerous. [9]

Want to guess what else does that? Porn.

Researchers have found that internet porn and addictive substances like tobacco have very similar effects on the brain, [10] and they are significantly different from how the brain reacts to healthy, natural pleasures like food or sex. [11] Think about it. When you’re munching a snack or enjoying a romantic encounter, eventually your cravings will drop and you’ll feel satisfied. Why? Because your brain has a built-in “off” switch for natural pleasures. “Dopamine cells stop firing after repeated consumption of a ‘natural reward’ (e.g. food or sex),” explains Nora Volkow, Director of The National Institute of Drug Abuse. [12] But addictive drugs go right on increasing dopamine levels without giving the brain a break. [13] The more hits drug users take, the more dopamine floods their brain, and the stronger their urges are to keep using. That’s why drug addicts find it so hard to stop once they take the first hit. “[O]ne hit may turn into many hits, or even a lost weekend.” [14]

What else has the power to keep pumping dopamine endlessly into the brain? You guessed it: porn.

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for more important information regarding this theme check out https://fightthenewdrug.org/resources/

Kosher internet Filters

this post comes from vice.com

While rabbis once tried to reject the internet altogether, telling people to stay offline is no longer a tenable position. Even among Haredim, the internet is integral to daily life, from running a business to buying airline tickets.

“Orthodox Jewish homes have valued for as long as anyone can remember the idea of filtering,” said Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, editor of the Orthodox blog Cross-Currents and adjunct chair in Jewish law at Loyola Law School. “Not everything out there is of equal value and you’re trying to keep your home and head full of ideas and images that are healthy and productive, rather than the opposite.” That’s the chief reason why orthodox homes usually don’t have televisions, and why they do have internet filters.

While the internet is widely used to study Torah (the Jewish Bible) and other religious texts and ideas—”We refer to ‘Rabbenu [our rabbi] Google’ as one of the chief teachers in the community,” Adlerstein said—it can also challenge orthodox Jewish values.

Pornography is the most obvious problem. It violates Jewish values both by objectifying human beings and disrupting “inner purity,” Adlerstein said. Internet porn is more convenient than a furtive visit to the candy store to buy magazines and fosters unhealthy expectations in marriages, he added. “Filtering is about both keeping temptation at arm’s length, and maintaining the quality of inner peace where your mind is, and where your soul is,” Adlerstein said.

Exposure to secular or heretical ideas is another problem. “If a kid finds 20 websites that convince him that if you believe in God you might as well believe in the spaghetti monster, there are all kinds of intellectual issues—issues that people in the community try to stay away from, or welcome with the right age, maturation, and background,” Adlerstein said. “[Online] you have no way of controlling that. You have access to all kinds of cynicism that puts down the way your family lives and demonizes the way the community lives.”

Newer filters work in real-time, automatically scanning website pages for non-kosher material. Through a technology called “quilting”, the system is coded to decide whether a web page, paragraph, or image is kosher, said Zvika Ilan, vice president of business development and marketing officer for Netspark, a filter for computers and smartphones. Each customer can decide the level of filtering they want to use: For example, the most basic level would block only pornography, but more advanced levels would also block lingerie or swimsuit images.

“If we think that people don’t want to see harmful content, then in the highest level we will not even show them social networks,” Ilan said. YouTube is allowed under Netspark, but if indecent content comes up even within a few seconds, the video is stopped. The same happens when scrolling through Facebook: “We’re scrolling and deleting harmful content from the wall,” he said.

The filter “understands” what it sees, Ilan added. Whereas before old filters would pick up only on skin tones, that method failed with close-ups of faces, or if a porn video used a red light, for example, and the skin tones were different colors.

Other filters work off a “whitelist” of kosher websites and a “blacklist” of banned websites, explained Eliezer Reiton, Netfree support engineer. Netfree, which Reiton said has thousands of users, blocks a total of 42,000 websites, including porn, proxies, social media, most news sites, and most video sharing sites. Other filters, however, are more lenient, allowing for example the news or some social media. Google is the only search engine allowed, but the results are filtered. Wikipedia is open, with some pages and images blocked. Same with YouTube, blocking certain videos, and so on. All major email providers are open.

Every single image displayed through Netfree is screened by Gentile employees in Ukraine and India similar to the work done by laborers in the Philippines who “keep dick pics and beheadings out of your Facebook feed.” Technically, Jews shouldn’t subject other Jews to non-Kosher material—similar to reasons why a “Shabbos goy,” rather than a secular Jew, might help observant Jews with certain tasks so they don’t have to violate Shabbat.

Because of the “premium attached to keeping temptation maximally distant,” Adlerstein explained, pictures of women are blocked, in addition to naked newborns and naked or partially dressed men. The screening system is attractive to non-Jews, as well: Even Netfree’s Muslim employees in India have expressed interest in it, Reiton said.

These employees are given a very explicit set of instructions in the form of a web app, manual, and powerpoint to help them understand which images are kosher and which should be banned. All new screeners are also trained by more experienced screeners.

Netfree’s list of “Rules for blocking images” includes each image containing a number of specific traits, such as the following:

  • “A human female above the age of 9, or a part of her body”
  • “A human female above the age of 3 without full dressing. Meaning with a swimsuit, underwear, mini skirt without stockings, etc.”
  • “A human male above the age of 6 without full dressing”
  • “Prominence of intimate organs (can be in men’s underwear)”
  • “Women’s lingerie, even if there are no women in the picture (bras)”
  • “Naked human statues”
  • “Sex-related” content
  • “Obscene or disgusting [content]. For example—bodies, murder, evil, abuse, blood”

Images of women’s hands are okay, so long as there’s no nail polish. Screeners are also told to look out for rooms with pictures on the walls containing the above non-kosher imagery, as well as for pictures of pictures on computers, screens, tablets, and cameras.

Ironically, while the internet is the root of many issues in the orthodox community, it’s also a tool to alleviate those issues. “Caught in the shmutz [dirt]? Drowning in the internet?” beckons a site called Guard Your Eyes (GYE). The online GYE internet addiction services are here to help.

Internet addicts often feel like they’re living a “double life,” said Yaakov, founder of GYE, which has nearly 1,500 members. “On one hand, they’re living an orthodox life, studying in yeshiva, and on the other hand, they have the smartphone in their pocket and feel an irresistible urge.”

GYE offers help for varying levels of addiction: a call-in hotline, weekly “chizuk” (strength) emails, online chat forums for moral support, an anonymous 12-step program, and information on filters via the sister site Venishmartem (Hebrew for “you watched yourself”). GYE recommends keeping the computer in a common area, and also offers a partner program, in which internet addicts can have their browsing history automatically sent to a “web chaver [friend]” who keeps them accountable. “If you look at porn sites, your friend gets an alert and then it’s embarrassing to you,” Yaakov explained—and hopefully that helps addicts “break free.”

“The internet is a threat to spirituality, not just religion,” Yaakov said. “They’re two separate things. Religion depends on what you were raised to believe: that’s dogma. Spirituality is the simple belief that there’s a higher power, a loving God who is involved in our lives and cares about us.” You can be religious, but not spiritual, he said, and for addicts, the internet exacerbates that division.

Internet addiction goes beyond porn. It can also be an irresistible waste of time—a problem for seculars and religious, alike. “What a person does in his or her day is supposed to be tachless [purposeful],” said Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesperson for Agudath Israel, a Haredi umbrella organization. “Wasting food, emotion, words, and time is seen as something that denies the value of life. God gave you a gift and you threw it out.” Wasting time is an issue especially for Haredim, who have a religious obligation to study Torah (not surf the web) during their free time.

But the bottom line is that the challenges the internet poses are just as present in the real world—whether it’s wasting time, watching porn, or bearing witness to inappropriate sightings on the street. (For instance, yeshiva boys may see a girl jogging in shorts and a sports bra through Haredi Williamsburg, but such an image would be blocked by filters.) Moreover, any tech savvy kid, like Jonathan was, can figure out how to hack the filters anyways.

“It’s an imperfect system. Assume [kids] are going to come across this one way or another, either through the computer or their friends. You can’t rely on the filter,” Shafran said. The key is “self-control and inoculation,” he added. “If you expose your kids to things that are not in consonance with our belief system, expose it to them outright. Teach by example and discuss with them why it’s wrong to watch pornography, for example. Let them read, let them question. They’ll know there are different approaches and they’ll learn how to reconcile them.”

Internet is not that dangerous… think again

this post comes from cross-currents.com by Yaakob Menken

In the lead-up to the Internet Asifa, Rav Aharon Feldman wrote that the problems associated with the Internet do not begin and end with inappropriate content, and thus filters alone are not a solution. Rather, he explained, the Internet affects the way we think, our ability to focus, and the way that we interact.

As far as I know, HaRav Feldman has not even used e-mail. So how does he know something that Newsweek has now documented after exhaustive studies? “New research says the Internet can make us lonely and depressed — and may even create more extreme forms of mental illness.”

The answer, truthfully, is that this isn’t even a revelation of Rav Feldman’s gifted mind. Only the blind could question Rav Feldman’s statement in this regard… but of course, even a cursory examination of “Orthodox” blogs will remind you that the world is filled with blind pundits. Gedolei Torah have warned us about the Internet for over a decade, and those who wish to mock the Gedolim have demonstrated their own foolishness (not to use any of a number of less charitable adjectives) in their haste to attack. As I put it in 2000, when Israeli Gedolim first warned against the harm of unfiltered home Internet, “secular Israeli ferocity pitted itself against plain American clumsiness to see who could provide the furthest approximation from intelligent coverage.”

In 2000, though, Internet use was not so constant and so intrusive (and there were no blogs on which to find ferocity and clumsiness so neatly packaged together). The idea that someone might get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, and then check his or her email before going back to sleep, was considered funny. [Today, Newsweek asserts that “more than a third of users get online before getting out of bed.”] So twenty years ago, it wasn’t as obvious as today that the Internet can do even more insidious — and just as damaging — harm.

Newsweek begins its coverage with the anecdote of a young man who created a documentary of the crimes of an African warlord, and publicized it via the Internet in an attempt to stop those crimes. But when the video got 70 million views in less than a week, the sudden exposure to digital “kudos and criticisms” overwhelmed the young producer. After a week of decreasingly-coherent Twitter updates, he “went to the corner of a busy intersection near his home in San Diego, where he repeatedly slapped the concrete with both palms and ranted about the devil.” The “sudden transition from relative anonymity to worldwide attention” drove him insane. Oh, and just for good measure, someone filmed his meltdown and stuck it up on YouTube.

The full article is certainly worth reading, but essentially, those questioning the need to warn people about the Internet (e.g. many who mocked the Asifa) deserve all of the same respect and consideration as those who question the need to warn people about using crack. Some quotes:

The current incarnation of the Internet — portable, social, accelerated, and all-pervasive — may be making us not just dumber or lonelier but more depressed and anxious, prone to obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit disorders, even outright psychotic.

Research is now making it clear that the Internet is not “just” another delivery system… The Internet “leads to behavior that people are conscious is not in their best interest and does leave them anxious and does make them act compulsively,” says Nicholas Carr, whose book The Shallows, about the Web’s effect on cognition, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. It “fosters our obsessions, dependence, and stress reactions,” adds Larry Rosen, a California psychologist who has researched the Net’s effect for decades. It “encourages — and even promotes — insanity.”

China, Taiwan, and Korea… [now treat] problematic Web use as a grave national health crisis. In those countries, where tens of millions of people (and as much as 30 percent of teens) are considered Internet-addicted, mostly to gaming, virtual reality, and social media, the story is sensational front-page news. One young couple neglected its infant to death while nourishing a virtual baby online. A young man fatally bludgeoned his mother for suggesting he log off (and then used her credit card to rack up more hours). At least 10 ultra-Web users, serviced by one-click noodle delivery, have died of blood clots from sitting too long.

Then there was the University of Maryland’s 2010 “Unplugged” experiment that asked 200 undergrads to forgo all Web and mobile technologies for a day and to keep a diary of their feelings. “I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening,” reported one student in the study. “Media is my drug,” wrote another. At least two other schools haven’t even been able to get such an experiment off the ground for lack of participants. “Most college students are not just unwilling, but functionally unable, to be without their media links to the world,” the University of Maryland concluded.

Recently it became possible to watch this kind of Web use rewire the brain… The brains of Internet addicts, it turns out, look like the brains of drug and alcohol addicts.

A team of researchers at Tel Aviv University… published what they believe are the first documented cases of “Internet-related psychosis.” The qualities of online communication are capable of generating “true psychotic phenomena,” the authors conclude, before putting the medical community on warning. “The spiraling use of the Internet and its potential involvement in psychopathology are new consequences of our times.”

Interestingly, the article persists in claiming that “blaming the television for kids these days” is “silly and naive” — despite the overwhelming evidence of the effects of passive viewing on developing brains. Will they never learn?

it is a basic necessity to have an internet filter and to always keep an eye on our children’s internet uses and behaviors if you need a kosher filter please check the following webchaver link

this post comes from cross-currents.com by Yaakob Menken

Psychological problems from smartphone addiction

There are concerns that some mobile phone users incur considerable debt, and that mobile phones are being used to violate privacy and harass others. In particular, there is increasing evidence that mobile phones are being used as a tool by children to bully other children.

There is a large amount of research on mobile phone use, and its positive and negative influence on the human’s psychological mind and social communication. Mobile phone users may encounter stress, sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression, especially young adults.

Consistent phone use can cause a chain reaction, affecting one aspect of a user’s life and expanding to contaminate the rest. It usually starts with social disorders, which can lead to depression and stress and ultimately affect lifestyle habits such as sleeping right and eating right.

According to research done by Jean M. Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, there is a correlation between mobile phone overuse and depression. According to Twenge and her colleagues, at the same time that smartphones were on the rise, there was also an increase seen in depressive symptoms and even suicides among adolescents in 2010.

 The theory behind this research is that adolescents who are being raised as a generation of avid smartphone users are spending so much time on these devices that they forgo actual human interaction which is seen as essential to mental health, “The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression.”

While children used to spend their free time outdoors with others, with the advancement of technology, this free time is seemingly now being spent more on mobile devices.

Psychologist Nancy Colier has argued that people have lost sight of what is truly important to them in life. She says that people have become “disconnected from what really matters, from what makes us feel nourished and grounded as human beings.”

 People’s addiction to technology has deterred neurological and relationship development because tech is being introduced to people at a very young age. People have become so addicted to their phones that they are almost dependent on them. Humans are not meant to be constantly staring at a screen as time is needed to relax their eyes and more importantly their minds. Colier states: “Without open spaces and downtime, the nervous system never shuts down—it’s in constant fight-or-flight mode. We’re wired and tired all the time. Even computers reboot, but we’re not doing it.”

The amount of time spent on screens appears to have a correlation with happiness levels. A nationally representative study of American 12th graders funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse titled Monitoring the Future Survey found that “teens who spent more time than average on-screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on non-screen activities are more likely to be happy.” One of the most important findings of this study is how the amount of time spent on non-screen activities versus on-screen activities affects the happiness levels of teenagers.

However, while it is easy to see a correlation between cell phone overuse and these symptoms of depression, anxiety, and isolation, it is much harder to prove that cell phones themselves cause these issues. Studies of correlations cannot prove causation because there are multiple other factors that increase depression in people today. Although parents and other figures share these concerns, according to Peter Etchells, a psychologist at Bath Spa University in England, other possible variables must be reviewed as well. Etchells proposes two possible alternative theories: depression could cause teens to use iPhones more or teens could be more open to discussing the topic of depression in this day and age.

A survey done by a group of independent opticians reviled that 43% of people under the age of 25 experienced anxiety or even irritation when they were not able to access their phone whenever they wanted. This survey shows the psychological effect that cell phones have on people, specifically young people. Checking a cell phone has become a normal daily event for many people over the years just as getting dressed in the morning is, people, don’t feel right when they don’t do it.

original source Wikipedia

The Advantages of Cutting Porn and Excessive Masturbation Out of Your Life

A sexual reboot does far more for you than you might realize, especially if you’ve been masturbating to porn since a young age. That was the case with me, and when I finally recovered and experienced all of these amazing benefits, I truly understood just how much impact porn had on my life.
I can only imagine how different my life would have been if I hadn’t got involved with porn – and that might seem overly-dramatic to you, but I can assure you that’s not the case. By attempting to restore my natural sexual function I inadvertently managed to shed a lot of insecurity, which had previously limited me in life. And this isn’t just my testimony; everyone that has successfully rebooted has reported similar experiences.

Before you go through the list of some of the positive things that you can experience as a result of this method, I want you to write down the things about yourself that you would like to improve. Just one or two things under each of the following categories:

  • Perspective on Life
  • Social Interactions
  • Interactions with Women
  • Physical State
  • Mental State

Done that? Now go through the list and see how many of these benefits match up.

Perspective on Life

  • Feeling more alive than ever
  • Feeling much calmer and centered
  • Huge boost in confidence and determination
  • Pronounced boost in the happiness derived from little things (food, music, walking)
  • Experiencing more emotions, feeling less numb to life
  • Loving/accepting yourself
  • Becoming more assertive, less passive, standing up for yourself
  • Much more positive outlook on life, even in the face of difficulties

Social Interactions

  • A pronounced decrease in social anxiety (which constantly improves)
  • Ability to initiate the conversation more often
  • Increased conversational skills, maintaining eye contact, smiling
  • Increased vocabulary, words come to you more easily
  • Able to relate much better to other people and their emotions

Interaction with Women

  • Take more notice of real women and find them more attractive
  • Senses are more engaged, and not just visual
  • Increased motivation to meet and talk to women
  • Creating a “magnetic sexual presence” which draws more attention to you.
  • Feel less intimidated in the presence of an attractive woman
  • Better sex (enjoying sex itself, not just pursuing an orgasm)

Physical State

  • Improved posture and appearance (more confidence and fewer anxiety results in better posture, as well as exercise)
  • Increased athletic performance (stamina and physical strength)
  • Voice is naturally a little deeper (This can be due to testosterone as well as there is less tension in the body and vocal cords)

Mental State

  • Increased clarity of mind and relief from brain fog
  • Increased concentration and ability to focus
  • Improved decision-making skills
  • Improved memory
  • The mood becomes more stable

Physical and Mental

  • Increased determination, energy, and productivity
  • Increased quality of sleep

Sounds unbelievable, right? Just one little change in your life can have such a huge knock-on effect to so many other areas. And that list doesn’t even take into consideration the other opportunities that you can create for yourself with all the extra energy you’ll have. Really, after you’ve finished this book and begin your sexual reboot you are setting yourself up to enjoy a whole new life!

The post above is a sample from my comprehensive recovery program, Stop… The Easy Way.

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Safe Search

Safe Search helps block explicit images, videos, and websites from search results. Google, Bing, and YouTube are locked to Safe Search. This helps you and your family avoid inappropriate search results.

Why Consuming Porn will become a problem for you

this article was taken from fightthenewdrug.org

Frequent porn consumption tends to escalate. Because of porn’s addictive nature, porn consumers usually need an ever-increasing dosage over time in order to feel the same level of enjoyment, and they often have to seek out more extreme and hard-core forms of porn. Porn consumers can reach a point where they enjoy porn less and less, but want it more and more.

Have you ever wondered how pornographers who charge for their material stay in business when there’s so much porn available for free? As Wendy Seltzer—an attorney and fellow at Yale Law School—explained, the answer is actually pretty simple: once porn consumers get hooked, they’ll want more and more. “Seeing [free porn] just whets their appetite for more,” Seltzer said. “Once they get through what’s available for free, they’ll move into the paid services.” [1]

How can pornographers be so sure? The answer is right there inside the brain.

Like any potentially addictive substance, porn triggers the release of dopamine into a part of the brain called the reward center (a.k.a. reward pathway or system). [2] Basically, the reward center’s job is to make you feel good whenever you do something healthy, like eating a great meal, having sex, or getting a good workout. [3] The “high” you get makes you want to repeat the behavior again and again. [4] (See How Porn Affects The Brain Like A Drug.) Your brain is hardwired to motivate you to do things that will improve your health and chance of survival. [5] Simple.

Well…not quite so simple. Researchers have recently discovered that the reward center is actually two different brain systems, a “Liking” system and a “Wanting” system, that work in different—sometimes opposite—ways. [6] Understanding how they work helps explain why porn can be habit-forming and why consuming porn is often an escalating behavior.

Liking

The “Liking” system is a tiny portion of the reward center. [7] It provides the enjoyable feelings you get when you win a game, share a kiss, or experience any natural, healthy reward. [8] Unfortunately, it also lights up for counterfeit rewards like cigarettes, drugs, or porn, which is why addictive substances feel enjoyable at first. [9]

When something activates your reward center and you feel that intense high from the “Liking” system, your brain starts producing a chemical called CREB. [10] CREB acts kind of like a set of brakes on the reward system. [11] Normally it makes the pleasure fade and leaves you feeling satiated and ready to get on with your life. (See How Porn Can Become Addictive.)

But if the “Liking” system gets stimulated too much over time (as often happens with drugs or porn), CREB levels build up until your whole pleasure response goes numb. [12] Some researchers believe that an excess of CREB is the reason addicts experience tolerance, which means that they feel less enjoyment from the stimulant and need to use more of it to reach a high. [13] In fact, too much CREB floating around in your brain can dull the enjoyment of anything, which may be why addicts often feel bored, detached, and depressed. [14]

Wanting

The “Wanting” system is a much larger area in the reward center, and it causes the brain to rewire itself in response to intense pleasure. [15] With the help of a protein called DeltaFosB, the “Wanting” system builds new brain connections so you can remember the experience and repeat it later. [16] (See How Porn Changes The Brain.)

It’s called the “Wanting” system because those new nerve connections make you crave the pleasurable experience. [17] The more often the experience is repeated, the stronger those nerve connections become, and the stronger the cravings grow. [18] DeltaFosB is sometimes called “the molecular switch for addiction” because it reinforces cravings and, if it builds up enough in the brain, it can switch on genes that leave the consumer more vulnerable to addiction. [19]

DeltaFosB doesn’t just make you remember the pleasurable experience itself; it also forms connections to details associated with the experience. These associations (called “cues”) are found with all kind of addictions. [20] For a smoker, a cue may be the smell of cigarette smoke. An alcoholic may develop pathways triggered by the sight of a bottle or the voice of a drinking buddy. Cues can be anything the brain associates with the experience. For a porn consumer, it may be the memory of a porn scene or a place or time of day he or she can be alone with the internet. For an addict, the whole world starts to seem like a collection of cues and triggers leading them back to their addiction. [21] Gradually, the porn pathways become sensitized, meaning they are easily triggered by the cues that are all around. [22]

Wait! Didn’t we say that CREB dulls the nerves, making them less sensitive? Now we’re saying that DeltaFosB makes them more sensitive. Well, which is it?

Actually, both. Remember, we’re talking about two different brain systems. With repeated exposure to porn, the “Wanting” system grows more sensitive to the cues that cause cravings. At the same time, the “Liking” system grows less sensitive to pleasure. That’s the awful irony of any addiction: the user wants it more and more, even while he or she likes it less and less. [23]

Porn is an escalating behavior because as some consumers develop tolerance, the porn that used to excite them starts to seem boring. [24] Predictably, they often try to compensate by spending more time with porn and/or seeking out more hardcore material in an effort to regain the excitement they used to feel. [25] Many porn consumers find themes of aggression, violence, and increasingly “edgy” acts creeping into their porn habits and fantasies. [26] But no matter how shocking their tastes become, you can bet there will be pornographers waiting to sell it to them.

If you are, or know someone who is, being pulled into more and more porn, it’s not too late! It’s possible to quit porn and replace it with healthy habits. The brain can start to heal, and consumers can regain the ability to fully feel and enjoy their lives again. Thousands already have. [27] Click here to learn how to get help.