John

Health anxiety, hypochondria, and obsession with symptoms

32 posts in this topic

ADMIN NOTE Nobody on this site thinks any disorders magically go away by going off psychiatric drugs. If you think the drugs are controlling certain symptoms, you will need to take responsibility for learning to manage those symptoms without drugs.

 

Taking responsibility for your own health and behavior is key to going off psychiatric drugs. If you cannot do that, and the symptoms are hampering your life, perhaps going off drugs is not for you.

 

If you have a tendency towards obsessive anxiety about your health, no amount of reassurance from others here will have an effect on it. You must do the work yourself.

 

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), other types of talk therapy, and meditation are non-drug ways to manage habits of obsessive thinking. People also find their own effective self-treatments, such as taking up various sports or hobbies.

 

SurvivingAntidepressants.org is not a general mental health support site. If you wish to talk about your obsessive preoccupations, you may wish to visit http://www.depressionforums.org/or other general mental health support sites, and post on SurvivingAntidepressants.org only when you have questions about tapering.

 


 

Now that i'm once again in the throes of withdrawal (and I hope it IS withdrawal), I read incessantly for an answer of why I feel this way, and how to fix this (which i'll never find).  Since I searched for why my anxiety almost goes away (if not totally) at around 8-9pm,  I came across a story on depression, and how he described it, saying at first mornings arent so great, then during the day its better, and at night its sometimes gone.  They also mention weight loss (which I had when I went cold turkey because all my life, when I get scared or upset my appetite disappears), etc.  When this first started, I saw a psychologist, and I asked him if I had depression, and he said "no".  Also, does depression begin at a moments notice,and stays at such a high level for months?  I also dont feel worthless, guilty, or sad.  Here's what I read:

 

http://www.mentalhealth.com/story/p52-dps5.html

Edited by Altostrata
added admin note

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There are a lot of horror stories and misinformation on the internet, if you keep searching for other explanations for your symptoms or a quick fix, its not surprising that you would get more confused or anxious.

 

I spent a lot of time doing just that before I found this site and realized what was going on.  It still took quite a while before I believed it fully.  I think you would be better off exploring this site and the many helpful links.  Search the internet for resources to help you relax and stay calm and stay occupied in more helpful ways.

 

Some things I have found helpful are guided meditations and meditation music.  Sleep hypnosis youtube videos.  Talks and interviews with a spiritual theme.  Talks, lectures and documentaries about things I'm interested in, but nothing too emotionally arousing.

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John...

 

In your opening sentence you answered your own question ~ it's WD and much like you I drive myself absolutely insane trying to figure out what in God's name is wrong with me.

 

Doing this must be part of WD

 

When I re-read my posts when I am in a huge downer I see that I ask this question over and over again.  Then I settle down and I am able to say "It's psych drugs."  But it is very hard when going thru it.

 

We just want to feel normal again.

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Hi John, I think there is an element of autonomic disruption in both depression and withdrawal, and that it is the elevated cortisol and related hormones that contribute to this symptom pattern. I still think Unraveling CFS is a most helpful book on this.

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John, im there and really been there.. Been searching EVERYWERE for an answer and a solution on "what is wrong with me" i went to doc, forced him to take plenty of different tests of me, bc i was so sure i had a deadly deasese and was dying and was so pissed they didnt understand or helped me .. came out that all tests was fine..

Its hard feeling almost dead and tests shows nothing wrong with you =(

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All in all, I am not doing so bad. I have good days, and even good weeks sometimes. No real desparation or deep depression. Still alot of fatigue though, and alot of physical complaints, like stomach pain, gas, intestinal pain, shoulderpain with nerve pain in arm, sometimes swollen glands, tingling in hands or feet etc. That wouldn't be so bad if it wouldn'y worry me so much. It's less bad then it used to be but still sometimes I get really obsessed by my physical trouble, start looking things up on the internet and invariably end up terrified that i have cancer or some other terrible disease.

Anyone recognise this? I know I shouldn't look symptoms up on the internet as it is bound to scare me but sometimes I just can't stop myself. Do any of you have advise or tips on how to stop this? Is this something that happens with others as well?

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I do this too. Sometimes I actually want to find something that explains my symptoms that isn't withdrawal, so that maybe it could be cured and there would be an end point.

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I think many of us can relate to this. The suffering is real but tests always come back fine.

It would be a  relief knowing there is something that can be fixed, or an explanation to give

people for why we are so ill. It's an awful thing to go through.

 

I found it much easier when I knew that my symptoms were caused by the drugs and withdrawal.

Just knowing that meant that I could be sick in peace on bad days and know that it will eventually

get better. It took a long time to sink in and believe it and I have Alto and this site to thank for 

teaching me.  Acceptance is the key here, once we accept that it is drugs/withdrawal  we can 

learn to ride the bad times knowing they will end.  It isn't easy, especially when there are people

to look after or a job to go to, it's a nightmare I wouldn't wish on anyone. except the pharma bosses

and shrinks of course, It would be good if every one of them had a taste of withdrawal ! 

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oooh ive been sooo hypocondric during my withdrawal and still is, It feels so weird feeling THIS BAD and go to doc and take tests and it coming back fine. I mean its so weird, but thue , these drugs are really a mess up for the brain :( I feel so angry at myself for trusting the docs to put me back on the medicine over and over again when i was suffering withdrawal but i thought it was something else, like doc told me.

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Bellisimo.....being scared seems to be the norm for most of us when getting off and on these drugs.  Everyone experiences it.

 

Physical symptoms don't really bother me that much.  It is the emotional/mental stuff that scares me.  You had to satisfy your questions on what you were feeling by going and getting tests.  It does not make you a hypochondriac.  It makes you normal and concerned for your own well being.

 

You are trying to care for yourself.  And you are doing the best you can.....

 

Would it help you to know that we all get scared.

 

Hugs

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Do you have health anxiety? What are good ways to deal with it?

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I don't think it would be a relief to know if something is wrong. Because even if it is, WD has made me so sick I couldn't even be treated for it. I can't even add food.

 

So, I chose not to get tested for anything. I can't handle it if there is something wrong, especially when I can't take supplements or adjust my diet, let alone take any new med. That is basically how I deal with it... I choose not to engage with that line of thinking right now because I recognize my inability to handle it.

 

To me, all the testing and anxiety that comes with it seems pretty pointless at this juncture. I would never discourage anyone who feels it may help to know if there is some underlying issue. But, I believe it to be the right decision for me to postpone such inquiry until a later date.

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I have health anxiety sometimes. Internet is the trigger. Usually I let myself search everything all horrible deseases until the fear passes...it will calm down naturally when you look for 10 deases at the end you ricognize that you can't have all.

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I used to have health anxiety, it was one of the reasons why I was put on prozac. 

 

Now I am too numb emotionally to have health anxiety lol

 

I used to cope with it with exercising and avoiding to look stuff on the internet

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Added Admin Note to post #1.

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Aww Theon lol well it worked in a way didn't it..?

 

Not minimising your pain..it's just these drugs are like sledgehammers!

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Aww Theon lol well it worked in a way didn't it..?

 

Not minimising your pain..it's just these drugs are like sledgehammers!

 

Yes, it worked quite well for my health anxiety ... by numbing all my emotions and taking away part of my personality... probably what it is supposed to do.

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A thought that I wanted to post here is that the opinions of people with health anxiety are turned down very very easily by saying that it is part of your health anxiety.

 

What I mean is, as an ex-sufferer from health anxiety (before prozac took my emotions away), I used to worry really a lot about the prozac that I was prescribed, but my therapist always told me that those worries were induced by my anxiety and that they were not true... well, they turned out to be true at the end... 

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Hi John, I think there is an element of autonomic disruption in both depression and withdrawal, and that it is the elevated cortisol and related hormones that contribute to this symptom pattern. I still think Unraveling CFS is a most helpful book on this.

 

I'd like to ask my doctor to test my cortisol levels because I seem to be having symptoms of adrenal insufficiency from being off Zoloft. What are the "related hormones" I should ask to test for? How is cortisol related to AD withdrawal?

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I would first recommend reading The Adrenal Reset Diet, about much more than diet, as it explains the limitations and issues of testing. Adrenaline is a major related hormone, and all the hormones relate to one another, like insulin, TSH, sex hormones, and neuro hormones AKA neurotransmitters.

 

Cortisol is a stress hormone, and withdrawal is a major stressor. And I still think Unraveling CFS has a lot to offer.

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Hmmmm.......just thinking about how I deal with health related anxiety.  Pretty well I think, for now.  I do get obsessed with all the various possibilities from time to time, but they pass fairly quickly.

 

I guess I just become glad after the obsession passes.......to know what kind of things I may need to attend to in the future as far as further medical work ups, and such.

 

Oh and trust my inner voice sometimes helps.  I mean, for me, I believe I will know if there is something that needs immediate attention.  Sometimes that radar IS a little off but mostly........it's good.

 

For now.......it's a day at a time.  Sometimes an hour even.  But definitely making progress.

 

I did the whole adrenal thing for awhile......while I was still on some medication(possibly more than one) or other.  It can result in a lot of time and money invested.  It certainly was not curative of my symptoms of both W/D and psycho drug medication effects.   I based what I did on a book called "Adrenal Insufficiency" I think, forgive me........when I find it........I will post if my guess was correct or not.

 

I will look into the book you mention MQ......Unraveling CFS.......as that may be real helpful for me.

 

At this point though.......I just want to read more fiction, like I used to.........for enjoyment.  :-)

 

You should see the list of stuff.......non fiction.........that I have to pursue at this point........LOL.  I will, however, prioritize as I have been doing.  One can only do what they can at any given point.

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I worry about my health all the time, it takes a lot to convince me that I'm actually okay. I still get checkups every six months to monitor all my vitals and other than very slightly elevated cholesterol, everything is always perfect or near perfect. Yet still I worry. I never get sick.

 

I mostly think that any change in how I'm feeling is part of a downward spiral back into the years between 2010-2013, when I was taking zopiclone every night and felt bad almost every day. Even right now I'm worried that I need to updose something just because I've had bad sleep a few nights in a row. Someone like me never wants to be right about what they are worrying about!

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I am totally with the health anxiety thing here and believe it or not being a nurse doesn't make it any easier. It stems I think from coming to terms with being hurt by people who are supposed to help you heal and get better. This won't have been the intention but that doesn't make it any easier.

 

I am open to many complimentary and alternative practices as I now believe that the medical profession is too far up it's own a$*e to see that damage is being caused. 

 

I do firmly believe that in the not too distant future the tide will turn and medicine will see the error of it's ways with regards to psychiatric medicine just think Thalidomide, hailed as a wonder drug in the 60's but what a legacy it left behind.

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I do firmly believe that in the not too distant future the tide will turn and medicine will see the error of it's ways with regards to psychiatric medicine just think Thalidomide, hailed as a wonder drug in the 60's but what a legacy it left behind.

 

Thalidomide, and the similar mess of the drug DES (Diethylstilbestrol), which was advertised as the "wonder drug" for pregnant mothers and left the children with a host of medical problems including infertility, miscarriages, cancer, etc. If I remember correctly, the DES offspring have a slightly higher occurrence of depression/anxiety as well.

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I've experienced all forms of anxiety: social, ocd, health, generalized. Anxiety is a ***** to deal with. WD made anxiety 10 times worse no doubt. It is a shame there isn't more knowledge about anti-depressant wd. The doctors say they know the long term use of a lot of ssri's but know barely anything about the long term effects of stopping them.

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Can this also be in regard to mental disorders and not just physical symptoms? I obsess and lose sleep over thinking I have certain severe mental pathologies and am triggered when I see certain words.

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As scared as I am, mostly the physical symptoms seem less scary than the mental ones.

I feel bad today but my anxiety seems to run away, and I really have to distract myself to calm it down,and even though I know it's wd I can't help thinking when this is over,a lot of symptoms will remain.

I know someone with experience will shake their head and mutter the phrase, wd,it's wd.

I hope so.

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Health anxiety is what got me into this mess.  Every ache and pain, I was convinced it was cancer.  It is a miracle I can even say the word.  I used to not even be able to say the word cancer or type it.  If a commercial came on tv related to it, I instantly got anxiety.  So I guess that is an improvement. 

 

For some reason, ever since having my daughter 9 years ago, that anxiety and worry all ramped up heavily.  I think it is the realization that we are mortal.  We worry about our kids, our own lives and well being to care for them.

 

I began having real health issues almost immediately after she was born and that did not help.  It literally went from one to the other.  As soon as I figured one out and it got treated, literally another would immediately start.  In March of 2014, while sitting in my office chair at work, I got a horrible pain near my shoulder blade.  Tried walking it off, had my husband come from work to try and rub it out...it was terrible pain.  And never let up.  My doc did an EKG and chest xray.  Both were fine. I kept being told it was muscular.  I wanted MRI's, did not want the CT because I had already had about 4 of them in the previous 3 years due to my other health problems, and was worried about the radiation. More health anxiety.  Anyway, finally got approved for a thoracic MRI while pregnant with my second child.  It showed nothing other than a couple minor disc bulges.  I was sure the pain was caused by something serious.  Since then, the pain has also moved up into my head and neck and caused unbearable occipital neuralgia.  I have had nerve blocks in my head (only thing that has helped, but short term only), epidural injections in my spine, PT for a year, chiro, massage...nothing has helped.  I have since had a cervical MRI (another minor bulge), brain and head MRI, and finally gave into the chest CT when I was convinced it was something in my chest or chest wall/muscles.  Nothing showed up.

 

However, before the CT scan, I was desperate and STUPIDLY as usually, went online to do my own "research"...I found something called a pancoast tumor that sounded EXACTLY like what I had been experiencing...like word for word.  I was convinced this is what it was, and went into a complete anxiety attack.  Nothing could calm me. Of course this was at night, as it usually is, and I'm sure you can all relate to that.

 

Anyway, so there I go and head to the ER...around midnight, by myself.  Of course my pain has ramped up hugely by this point as well.  Husband had to stay home with the kids, parents in bed.  All I wanted was imaging to determine if this was going on.  All the stupid PA would give me was a shoulder xray.  I told him about my tumor concern and he said I'd have to get a CT or MRI from my doctor.  He gave me a pain killer, which did not help much.  So, the a****** decided to give me a shot of Haldol (with "off-label use for pain"). 

 

Dystonic reaction from the haldol...absolute HELL...somewhat recovered from that, then my regular doc thought Zoloft might be a good idea to help with my health anxiety and my worries about this dystonic reaction experience.  One 50 mg pill and I was back in HELL....this hell has continued for over 4 months now. 

 

Now all my concerns, maybe even obsessions, are dealing with the adverse reaction hell.  I'm convinced this is permanent...after all, Haldol has actually killed people.  It has crippled people.  I have to come here for hope.  My parents want me to run the gamut with blood tests and an EEG.  But I know it will show nothing, and I can take no medications, so what's the point.  I know it is 100% from the meds because that is where it began.  So now I find myself looking up things online about this mental issue.  It is far worse than anything I have experienced physically.  I still have the pain in my back/side and now I am unable to even take the occasional pain med to help with that.  Can't even take Ibuprofen.  But I rarely worry about that any longer, because now I have this to worry about.  WHY IS IT ALWAYS SOMETHING???

 

So even though I believe it was a completely incompetent ER PA that REALLY caused this...if I could have just chilled the hell out and stopped panicking, I'd maybe never be here.

 

I need to completely change my way of thinking.  I know that having these worries is bad for our health.  I just don't know how to change it.  I'm going to try acupuncture, hypnotherapy and start meditating more regularly.  Maybe try to read some books, although reading is incredibly difficult for me anymore. 

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Hi everyone,


 


I was requested kindly by a moderator to reproduce my post on a thread here. I've edited it only slightly as I've had time to reread it. I also want to direct people prone to health anxiety to a useful book, which challenges sufferers to embrace the scary things that really worry them, like death, serious illness, and the uncertainty of health (Overcoming Health Anxiety: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (Overcoming Books) Paperback – November 26, 2009):- 


 


 


Here's my largely unedited post: 


 


"I am not a clinical psychologist or licensed CBT practitioner. However, I am a sufferer (albeit recovering) of health anxiety. I suspect you have health anxiety and tackling it will make everything easier to deal with. Earlier in your thread you said 


 


"I know I think about things obsessively." Health anxiety overlaps with OCD a great deal, it is a form of obsession. Understandably but in common with OCD, you are seeking reassurance that your health is okay. Seeking reassurance feels great when you receive it but it is addictive and actually makes health anxiety worse. It is okay to check important symptoms with a doctor but health anxiety makes it almost impossible to discern what is worth troubling yourself and a doctor with and what isn't. 


 


You need to recognize anxiety as something that leads to panic, and whilst both of them feel like they are continuous, they do actually end after a predictable period. When you are anxious or panic, it lasts up to roughly an hour, often 15 to 45 minutes. These numbers aren't that important and are probably not particularly accurate (but they are not wildly inaccurate either), what is important is that once you come down from a panic or anxiety episode, your faulty obsessive thinking kickstarts another episode straight after it. Being in this state repeatedly is exhausting, as I am sure anyone reading this will agree with. Being anxious or panicking is so tiring physiologically but also psychologically, which makes breaking free of it difficult.


 


If you break the cycle just once, you will feel better immediately! Learning to recognize when you are anxious and quelling it with breathing and calming exercises, as well as rational cognition, will fix health anxiety permanently. Each time you break the cycle, you get better at it until it becomes second nature. The goal of this is to feel serenity in the face of uncertainty about your frightening symptoms. 


 


You also said in your thread:


 


"This is more than health anxiety." Don't underestimate health anxiety! As you probably know by now, it can be terrifying, leading to panic and thoughts that you are about to go crazy, lose consciousness, or die. Usually, when you have severe health anxiety, the last thing on your mind is that you have it, instead you're preoccupied with the fear of your symptoms. These symptoms are real to the sufferer but non-sufferers often fail to appreciate that, preferring to dismiss health anxiety as trivial and often using the old moniker of hypochondriasis to describe it.


 


You should always see a doctor if you have symptoms that are inexplicable and could be serious. However, next time you go to the doctor with any symptom that worries you try to take notes (yes by writing them down) of how you felt before the appointment, during it, then afterwards. You should notice that your anxiety and/or panic levels fluctuate. This is your first clue that your problem could just be health anxiety and not a symptom that you need to worry about excessively.


 


The goal is not to stop you seeing a doctor or researching data from reputable sources about your symptoms, which you should whenever you think it is justified. The first step is to get you to make, wait for, and attend appointments calmly, having eliminated your anxiety: this will give you clarity during your appointments and in some cases, make you realize that an appointment may not be necessary. You can always cancel them if you find a symptom has diminished or isn't as serious as you thought. The same applies to researching symptoms: do so when you are calm and reacting not from anxiety but out of rational curiosity. Eventually, you'll be like most people: making occasional appointments calmly, without anxiety driving any aspect of your decision. You will be able to manage your symptoms and avoid the horrors of a relentless panic spiral. 


 


Recovering from health anxiety takes time and work, but the CBT that treats it starts working immediately. I am not 100% yet (I'd say about 90%) but I am so much better. I have avoided so much worry and agony, as well as needless appointments with specialists and doctors, and hundreds of hours of researching symptoms, thanks to health anxiety-focused CBT. Without it, withdrawal would have been impossible to get through.


 


SA has a lot of resources to help you identify symptoms that may be caused by withdrawal. Your medication will also tell you of dozens of symptoms you may encounter as you continue taking it. These are commonplace and mostly do not need medical intervention. 


 


To those overwhelmed by health anxiety and panic, even to the point of crisis, as I have been, I recommend the abovementioned book, a licensed and reputable CBT practicioner, and/or this crisis website: "No Panic" (https://www.nopanic....k/panic-attack/). Withdrawal sufferers have enough to deal with, we don't need health anxiety making our life harder! 


 


I hope you all feel better soon and I hope I made some sense  :)"


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Don't underestimate health anxiety! As you probably know by now, it can be terrifying, leading to panic and thoughts that you are about to go crazy, lose consciousness, or die. Usually, when you have severe health anxiety, the last thing on your mind is that you have it, instead you're preoccupied with the fear of your symptoms. These symptoms are real to the sufferer but non-sufferers often fail to appreciate that, preferring to dismiss health anxiety as trivial and often using the old moniker of hypochondriasis to describe it.

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I have never heard of this term, but I have experienced it many times. In fact it is where almost all of my anxiety comes from. It is such a cyclical pattern and can go on and on and on if you don't use some sort of tool to stop the cycle.

 

Right now, I am scared to death of withdrawal symptoms. And rest assured that I have been called a hypochondriac many many times. But withdrawal is no joke. People who haven't been through withdrawal can not possibly understand how consuming the experience can be.

 

I noticed that you mentioned CBT. I took a 9 month course in DBT, which was transformative. Now I recognize that I'm having anxiety (health anxiety) and use a variety of techniques to overcome it. I do a thing where I fake smile until I feel better. It may sound ridiculous, but it works. I also meditate and perform deep breathing exercises. There are many free guided meditations on Amazon Prime. Distraction and/or laughter can also be quite powerful. I have a list of movies that I watch for distraction and laughter. And for some reason my mind equates Seinfeld with comfort and safety. I also distract with logic games.

 

Anyway, thank you for finally putting a name to the anxiety I've had for so long!!

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On 18/03/2014 at 11:35 PM, mammaP said:

I think many of us can relate to this. The suffering is real but tests always come back fine.

It would be a  relief knowing there is something that can be fixed, or an explanation to give

people for why we are so ill. It's an awful thing to go through.

 

I found it much easier when I knew that my symptoms were caused by the drugs and withdrawal.

Just knowing that meant that I could be sick in peace on bad days and know that it will eventually

get better. It took a long time to sink in and believe it and I have Alto and this site to thank for 

teaching me.  Acceptance is the key here, once we accept that it is drugs/withdrawal  we can 

learn to ride the bad times knowing they will end.  It isn't easy, especially when there are people

to look after or a job to go to, it's a nightmare I wouldn't wish on anyone. except the pharma bosses

and shrinks of course, It would be good if every one of them had a taste of withdrawal ! 

 

So does it completely go away in the end ? I have cognitive issues since i took zyprexa and i only took it for 3 months. Is it more accurate to call it withdrawal or brain Injury ? Wish i could go back to my old self 

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