As with any addiction, masturbation addiction can have a huge impact on your daily life, work and relationships. Many people struggle with this addiction, and shame can keep people from seeking the treatment they need to overcome it. Understanding the signs and symptoms of masturbation addiction is the first step to getting past the affliction and moving on with life.

Spending Excess Time Masturbating

If you notice that you are masturbating at the expense of other activities like sleeping, eating, working or socializing, it may be a sign of addiction. People who engage in excessive self-gratification often choose to stay home and masturbate instead of socializing with friends. They find themselves behind in work—housework, chores and remote work take a backseat to masturbation. They may often stay up late or wake up early in order to engage in the practice. If this is happening in your life, it may be a sign of addiction.

Masturbating in Public

People who suffer from a masturbation addiction often feel the urge to masturbate, even when they are not in the comfort of their own homes. Because the urge is so overwhelming, many people find themselves unable to confine self-gratification to the privacy of their homes. This is another sign of an addiction that will only get worse if left untreated.

Shame or Guilt About Masturbation

One of the main signs of an addiction to masturbation is shame or guilt surrounding it. Some people believe that masturbating makes them dirty or “wrong,” and this guilt will lead them to engaging in activities to make them feel good again–like masturbation. This cycle of shame and self-pleasuring to ease the shame makes it challenging to stop the addiction. A qualified therapist can help to release these feelings and help to end the addiction.

Interfering With Intimacy

Men and women who suffer from masturbation addiction often find it hard to enjoy intimacy with their partners. In some cases, the self-gratification desensitizes them, making it hard for them to enjoy their partners. This in turn can cause relationship problems, leading to separation or even divorce. People suffering from masturbation addiction often find that therapy and counseling can help save these relationships before the addiction destroys them completely.

Masturbating to Ease Strong Feelings

Some people use masturbation to deal with feelings of fear, loneliness, frustration and anxiety. Masturbation can often ease these feelings, so for a person with an underlying mental health issue, this addiction can exacerbate the problem.

Loss of Sensitivity

If your masturbation is so frequent that you start to lose sensation, it may be a sign of addiction. In some cases, sufferers even experience pain while masturbating but continue anyway. When the masturbation gets to this point, it is definitely time to see a professional for treatment.

Treatment for Masturbation Addiction

For most people, treatment for masturbation addiction starts with treating the underlying issue. If there is a mental health issue like depression, the first step is treating the issue, either through talk therapy, medication or a combination of both. Depending on the severity of the issue, your doctor may recommend inpatient or outpatient treatment that works to dig deep into what is causing the addiction.

Talk Therapy

In talk therapy, your doctor will get the bottom of why you are suffering from masturbation addiction. He will address factors that may have affected you in childhood, events that are happening in your current life and any anxiety you may be experiencing. The doctor may also talk to you about other addictions that may be present in your life. Some people are also addicted to drugs or alcohol, which makes the masturbation worse. A complete plan of therapy will address all of these issues before tackling the masturbation challenges.

Stopping Negative Thought Patterns

One of the problems that happens with excessive masturbation is that the sufferer often feels guilt and shame after it is complete. This guilt and shame makes the problem worse and harder to treat. In addition, if the masturbation is interfering with work or personal relationships, this can cause the person to engage in negative self-talk. Statements like “I’m a bad person,” and “I’m never going to have a successful relationship,” often make it harder for them to address the issue and tackle it head on.

In cognitive behavioral therapy, the doctor will help you to break those negative thought patterns, changing the script to positive thoughts. When you feel the urge to masturbate, you can repeat to yourself, “This is just a feeling that will pass,” and “I’m not a bad person because of my masturbation. I’m working through it,” and “I am a good person and I will have successful relationships.” Self-talk is a huge part of the challenge of treating excessive masturbation, so curbing it is key to dealing with the issue.

Lifestyle Changes

In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy, your doctor will likely ask you to engage in some lifestyle changes to help you to curb the habit. These may include:

-Wearing extra clothing to bed to make masturbation difficult
-Staying busy during alone time
-Limiting privacy
-Refraining from watching adult films or other materials
-Attending support group sessions and meeting other sufferers

Masturbation addiction is common around the world, but the stigma surrounding it means that most people aren’t able to publicly admit to it. There is hope for this addiction. Through talk therapy, lifestyle changes and personalized treatment plans, you can free yourself from the habit and move on to a more fulfilling life. Take this masturbation addiction test to see how addicted you are.

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