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Anhedonia, apathy, demotivation, emotional numbness

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Christiana   
Christiana

I keep reading over and over that it will get better, Dazygirl.  I hang onto that.  Try not to feed into it, but instead just let it flow and keep yourself as comfy as you can.  There are plenty of people that are in the same boat with you, including myself.  I'm so sorry you're in the boat too, but instead of being scared and fighting it, which I find only makes it worse, try to find some things to keep you from thinking about it so much.  I know how hard it can be, but rest assured others have gone before us and it has gotten better for them.  I hope you're having an easier time with it today.  (((hugs)))

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dazygirl   
dazygirl

Thank you Christiana, I hope you are doing better also. You've been thru so much. Thank you again. I would have a longer reply but I seem to have come down with a flu or something. 

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Christiana   
Christiana

You're quite welcome, Dazygirl! Thank you very much for the well wishes! I wish you the same!

 

I'm so sorry to hear you've come down with something! Withdrawal can feel like the flu, so are you sure it's not just withdrawal that's making you feel worse? At any rate, I hope you improve quickly! (hugs)

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theelt712   
theelt712

I am 5 months out from taking Zoloft and almost 3 months out from ending it, still have severe anhedonia from a 59 day adverse reaction to it. I took it for 5 weeks before 4 weeks are tapering and it's not physical hell as much as it is mental hell. I am scared I am going to loose everything.

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cymbaltawithdrawal5600   
cymbaltawithdrawal5600

Really, theelt? Oh please sweetie,, I'd like to think I did something 'helpful' because right now, I cannot even help myself.

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theelt712   
theelt712

I know that I can't help myself either, but maybe the ideas there will be useful for teens suffering from anhedonia.

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cymbaltawithdrawal5600   
cymbaltawithdrawal5600

It wasn't just the 'teen' part, per se. It was the 'constant need for stimulation' that the writer was getting at. That, in the absence of stimulation that 'the internet' and electronic devices bring, we become habituated to 'outside stimulation' and the feelings those stimulations bring. When those things no longer give a sense of relief, or NOTHING does, we give a name to the feeling we are left with and one of it's labels is 'anhedonia'.

 

Don't forget, I am a 'child of the internet' too. I just started later in life. There was probably, in my life, an adequate balance of 'nature stuff' and other: TV, books, etc. My dad was a 'nature nut'. Nowadays, I tend to run to my computer to 'fix what ails me', instead of going for a walk, immersing myself in 'petting my cat', cleaning the house. All of those take you out of your 'mind' and into your body and the world of 'sense' (sensory). The internet keeps you focused mainly in your 'mind'.

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Barbarannamated   
Barbarannamated

Really, theelt? Oh please sweetie,, I'd like to think I did something 'helpful' because right now, I cannot even help myself.

I relate to this feeling.

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cymbaltawithdrawal5600   
cymbaltawithdrawal5600

Barb, I hope you are not 'feeling' it too, because I feel really, really bad right now. No appetite, no motivation, tearful and irritable,yada yada I am DEPRESSED. That's what this feels like, it's not anhedonia. Good old garden variety depression, my life companion. I have not made any progress at all.

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catw66   
catw66

Over time on all of these meds, it just seems like small things are too much to bother with and I can spend all day getting hardly anything done some days. I have developed chronic fatigue as well over the last 10 years that has become progressively debilitating. The things that other people take for granted and can easily do, completely overwhelm me at times. I thought this was a symptom of my depression, but at the rate it has been increasing over the years on all sorts of meds, I now think the meds have been the major problem all along.

 

It often feels like my brain just cannot or will not complete the algorithm of whatever it was trying to process.

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Barbarannamated   
Barbarannamated

Yes. Overwhelmed to the point of freezing up, even with everyday tasks. For awhile, I thought it was my physical energy that was stopping me, but, for me, it's more of a brain lock. I can't even get started. Very scary.

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Utahgal   
Utahgal

I feel the same way. Everyday life tasks seem overwhelming. Like cleaning out the fridge. I used to be so motivated and a multitasker. Now I struggle to get the most simple things done. I'm not sure if its a mental condition, or the meds I'm on.

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Jemima   
Jemima

I've also experienced this unwillingness to do things I used to do despite not liking the chores very much. Just today I realized that I had gone ahead and done two chores I didn't feel like doing (grocery shopping and weeding), so perhaps there's some improvement there for me.

 

I think what's missing in withdrawal is any feeling of satisfaction at getting these chores done.  It's all part of that emotional blunting that takes SO long to resolve.

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SigmundFreud   
SigmundFreud

Hi all. I think my new waves now consists of symptoms resembling somewhat cyclothymia. what are the things i can do or supplements i can take to help when i feel that 'blah' that the mood cure was talking about. I think I am already overstimulated and I use taurine, GABA, propranolol, and xanor when i get back to anxiety/panic symptoms. i tend to get stimulated on b-complex, fish oil, st. johns wort, and sam-e. Im waiting on my order of d-phenylalanine because in the mood cure, it turned out i might be low on endorphins after all the painful things that happened to me. any inputs will be greatly appreciated. hang in there guys lets help each other in our journey towards healing.

Edited by SigmundFreud

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Rhiannon   
Rhiannon

One good thing about this really slow taper with occasional really long holds is that it's making it easier for me to see what's the drugs, what's me, and what's withdrawal.

 

I took a long hold this summer and fall because I got into bad shape in July.  In September I started to feel better and I had a great October even after I started cutting again a little. And one thing I noticed is that I was able to get so much done. Made phone calls, took care of some appointments, went out of town three times, winterized my garden, and worked my way through a to do list. Wow! For me that's huge.

 

Now that I've been cutting again a while and I'm starting to have some withdrawal symptoms again (pretty subtle but sadly familiar) I'm back to having that same "I just can't do it. Just can't."

 

So I at least console myself that maybe this will pass and it's not permanent and someday I will be able to do more than just the bare survival minimum in my life.

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Barbarannamated   
Barbarannamated

Now that I've been cutting again a while and I'm starting to have some withdrawal symptoms again (pretty subtle but sadly familiar) I'm back to having that same "I just can't do it. Just can't.".

Rhi,This "just can't" feeling... is it physical or psychological or a combination? This has dogged me so badly and I can't seem to push through it. And I don't have anything in life forcing me to push through it. No responsibilities or local friends urging me out. I feel paralyzed much of the time, as if my brain is not able to force body to start moving. I do only what I absolutely positively must, usually to avoid pain or further withdrawal (take meds, go to chiro when in pain, etc). It takes every ounce of energy to do so. Yesterday I sat up in recliner for several hours and that was a good day. Most are spent in bed. I have an overwhelming feeling that my entire being has given up. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Thanks.

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JanCarol   
JanCarol

Wow, I was sent here because on my "intro thread" I mentioned lack of pleasure in anything.  What I'm hearing here is anhedonia, lack of pleasure, and depression, lack of motivation.  Or maybe I am just conditioned, after decades of depression, to make myself do things, even when there is no apparent benefit, reward, or emotional stroke?  I gave up on sex over a decade ago because I just couldn't feel anything.

 

The best description I've heard in here (sorry it was pages ago) was "Danger?  Really? I'll just watch and see what happens, because to do something would take too much involvement, commitment"  (paraphrased)

 

But I take that back.  I do feel things.  I feel sadness, loss, disgust, annoyance, anger, all those negative emotions.  But not all of them.  It is as though they are at the bottom of the well, and the well is my body, and I can glimpse the thing that is "disturbing the waters" and maybe identify it, but I don't really touch what I suffer from.

 

And the anhedonia:  this is, to me - a trip to the hairdressers.  Gonna get a nice new 'do.  I have to do it, since I lost my thyroid, my hair gets really unmanageable (those of you who cut it off in tangles, I empathize).  So this girl1s fingers are running through my hair, shampoo, hot water, no pleasure.  I remember when this would bring tingles up and down my arms, and a sigh would escape my breath.  Now, nothing.

 

Same with massage.  I thought I would test it and went for a relaxing Bali massage (not an intense, pounding, take your breath away remedial massage).  I could not wait until the girl stopped touching me.  I actually prefer the intense pounding remedial massage, because then I feel SOMETHING, even if it is pain.

 

That is the hug that people want from me, and I give it, but cannot wait until it is over.  That is the kiss that, "kissing 2 minutes a day will heal any relationship", I feel him responding and feeling it, and it is nothing to me.  Nothing.  Just a wet messy motion with my lips and mouth, are we done yet?  When I see kissing or sex scenes on TV, it is like being an alien watching the mating habits of another species.  "What odd things they do with their mouth, what strange ways they have to express their feelings!"

 

As for what I see here as depression:  the "give-a-yhit-a-tude" that makes you do things, get up and go.  Sometime in the 90's I decided that to do one thing a day was good.  Whether that was work, or exercise, taking a bath/shower, or dinner with friends - I didn't distinguish because I got similar reward from all.  Today it is an appointment with the dietitian, I will write more about that in my intro thread.  SOME DAYS I actually do two things, like yesterday was a trip to the chemist and going to a test at my karate school (not my test, just the littlies getting their first belt).  Both were fairly low key, but involved talking to people, thinking of things to say (especially when the kids got discouraged).

 

And doing one thing a day, is like clawing my way back out of the well.  I still am waiting for the good feelings - you see - I don't trust them.  I equate intense, good feelings with manic episodes, and wonder when the axe is going to fall.  Maybe I hold myself back from all feelings because of this.  Maybe I feel safe with "negative" feelings because that's "depression" and cannot be manic.  And it's held true, the last good feelings I had were in 1995 and a few trickles after that for a few years.  And 1995 was my "documented manic episode."

 

When I see hubby doing 10 things in a day, I am in awe of him, and I also wish he could scale back because I think it's too much and is running him down.

 

Decision making:  I made up a little OCD thing in the 1980's.  There is a random number (between 1 and 9) for each day.  Today's number is 8.   When I cannot make a decision, such as what to wear, I just count 8 from the last thing I wore, and wear it.  If I don't LIKE the decision, then I am pleased:  OMG, I have an opinion about this! and am free to make another decision.  That's why it's not really OCD, because it's just a guideline, not carved in stone.  Then I don't spend hours paralysed in front of the closet or fridge or CD collection, I just choose one and go.  (this does not work as well for major decisions, just the minor ones which can trip you up)

 

I'm just starting my first taper, but I've been on and off antidepressants for 30 years, and have no way to know what was actual depression, what was situational, and what was my brain screaming for fresh chemicals after the last antidepressant was gone.

 

I hope these items fit this topic, thank you for listening.

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RebelMaven   
RebelMaven

It is like I am just blank.  I had so many wonderful interests and hobbies.  Now I am so flat.  I'm not interested in anything.  I keep trying to get interested in something but I don't know what interests me anymore.  I feel like I have to force myself to find something but it is jut not happening.  I think about starting up my old interests but most of them I can't do and the others just don't interest me any longer.  I am so stuck.

 

Yet I am so bored I could scream.

 

How do you figure out what you are interested in when you are so flat line?

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Barbarannamated   
Barbarannamated

RM,

This is probably my worst symptom at 2+ years after DCing Pristiq and Vyvanse. The apathy/ emotional anesthesia /anhedonia leads to excruciating boredom for me. Complicating matters, I lost my career (and life structure, coworker friends) several years ago and it's SO difficult to force myself out of the house to do things on my own that bring no pleasure, satisfaction or sense of accomplishment or reward.

 

I have little natural curiosity any longer. Actually, it comes and goes in tiny spurts but there's no "flow". There's another thread that discusses the loss of ability to follow through on ideas or projects, which, I think, is a bit different. Most have said this does come back, but life feels very flat in the meantime.

 

Link to thread referenced:

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1203-disconnect-between-interest-and-actionmotivation/

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Wisernow   
Wisernow

Those of us responding to this thread have much the same thing going on.  (apart from those who have recovered and stay here to help)    Can anyone tell me what's happening in our brain that is causing the problem?    Do anti depressants take over running how the brain works?   Then when we decide to cut back on the a/d's the brain isn't able to take up where it left off.    I presume the area's that are responsible for creating positive chemicals no longer function correctly - maybe they felt redundant to the a/d?    

 

Is w/d living with a brain that can't supply enough positive chemicals?   Or is it craving the artificial chemicals?  There seems to be no time line as to how long it takes for the brain to start functioning normally again.     It seems that our inertia and negativity to life whilst in w/d contributes to the length of time it takes to recover.  

 

I've only just started on this journey so I'm thinking OMG what can I do to help myself feel better when my brain is telling me to do nothing.    But surely doing nothing is the opposite of what we need to do.   We need to force ourselves to be active in whatever capacity we can force ourselves to.

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Petunia   
Petunia

We need to force ourselves to be active in whatever capacity we can force ourselves to.

 

If we can force ourselves to be active in some way, then we probably don't have apathy, anhedonia and demotivation.  For example, I've been sitting here for over half an hour, trying to force myself to become active in this conversation.  I have some opinions and some questions myself, but the over riding consensus is..... "what's the point", its not going to help, there are no easy answers, and even getting involved isn't going to make me feel better......

 

And now, that I did scrape up enough energy to write something, I don't feel any better, actually I feel worse and wish I hadn't, because I've probably added more negativity to an already negative situation.

 

So if forcing yourself to be active helps, then that's great... go for it, but I don't think its possible to force yourself to do anything when you have withdrawal induced AA&D.

 

I guess I don't have it then.... I forced myself to comment :unsure:

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Barbarannamated   
Barbarannamated

 

We need to force ourselves to be active in whatever capacity we can force ourselves to.

If we can force ourselves to be active in some way, then we probably don't have apathy, anhedonia and demotivation. For example, I've been sitting here for over half an hour, trying to force myself to become active in this conversation. I have some opinions and some questions myself, but the over riding consensus is..... "what's the point", its not going to help, there are no easy answers, and even getting involved isn't going to make me feel better......And now, that I did scrape up enough energy to write something, I don't feel any better, actually I feel worse and wish I hadn't, because I've probably added more negativity to an already negative situation.So if forcing yourself to be active helps, then that's great... go for it, but I don't think its possible to force yourself to do anything when you have withdrawal induced AA&D.I guess I don't have it then.... I forced myself to comment :unsure:
I agree with you, Petu. Sometimes I can force myself to do something and feel a bit better, but more often, I try to do something that I used to enjoy or at least provide distraction, and I feel worse because it does not provide any positive feelings. The good things have turned negative; I am hesitant to try any more things that used to be pleasureable only to learn that they, too, are "ruined". Interestingly, "apathy" is not even recognized by psychistry. There is also extreme apathy called "aboulia" that I feel describes me much of the time. I do have brain lesions but am not sure what brain region is effected.http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/AbouliaDoes anyone understand why this gets so much worse during withdrawal? I can definitely see a pattern of decreased motivation over the years ON SS/NRIs, but why so much worse after discontinuation? The wiki article recommends discontinuation of SSRIs because they decrease motivation, FYI:3. Eliminate or reduce doses of psychotropics and other agents that aggravate motivational loss (e.g., SSRIs, dopamine antagonists).

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Hopejjj   
Hopejjj

I, too find it incredibly difficult to do anything, including writing this. I am in cold turkey withdrawal from cymbalta and abilify for 6-8 weeks (lost track). I'm still on a small dose of klonopin and plan to taper off that hopefully when I get a little stronger. I am experiencing all the fun physical symptoms like constant nausea, horrible headaches, upset stomach, feeling hung-over, etc. As if that's not bad enough, the depression and anxiety and panic attacks r worse than ever. It does come in waves interestingly so at first I got excited when I felt a bit better only to have hopes dashed when I couldn't get off the couch the next day. And the day after. And here I am, trying desperately to gain some insight into this hell. I pray this doesn't last years because I think id rather be on the hell of ad's than go through this for that long. My deepest respect for those of u who fight the good fight every day - even if it doesn't feel like u have any fight left.

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Barbarannamated   
Barbarannamated

I, too find it incredibly difficult to do anything, including writing this. I am in cold turkey withdrawal from cymbalta and abilify for 6-8 weeks (lost track). I'm still on a small dose of klonopin and plan to taper off that hopefully when I get a little stronger. I am experiencing all the fun physical symptoms like constant nausea, horrible headaches, upset stomach, feeling hung-over, etc. As if that's not bad enough, the depression and anxiety and panic attacks r worse than ever. It does come in waves interestingly so at first I got excited when I felt a bit better only to have hopes dashed when I couldn't get off the couch the next day. And the day after. And here I am, trying desperately to gain some insight into this hell. I pray this doesn't last years because I think id rather be on the hell of ad's than go through this for that long. My deepest respect for those of u who fight the good fight every day - even if it doesn't feel like u have any fight left.

Hope,I strongly encourage you to write an introductory post. You are still in timeframe that you can reinstate a small does and taper slowly with the help of the forum admin. Please consider doing so because cold turkey sets you up for serious protracted withdrawal that can last years and be disabling. I did a fast taper of 1 drug and am still suffering 2+ years later. The taper months were not terrible, but I was hit with terribly debilitating physical and mood symptoms about 8 months out. Worse than anything I'd experienced prior to or on meds. B

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Hopejjj   
Hopejjj

B-

Ty for ur response. I'm so sorry for ur suffering. I had already been considering what ur suggesting as I fear that a terribly long withdrawal is in store for me. I will do what u suggested and Ty for ur kindness. Prayers for ur recovery, friend.

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MissSerene   
MissSerene

I have been in such a "functional stupor" for so long that I didn't recognize I was even in one...I was so unaware that I believed living like this was normal. Have experienced apathy, anhedonia, etc., and sexual side effects that make me sad. But I hope and pray that my emotions and spirit and body will move toward normal as this slow taper continues.

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pinkpeony   
pinkpeony

All you can do is calm yourself and find what pleasure you can, however dilute. Slowing down your mind to be in the moment helps a lot. Your ability to enjoy will come back, slowly.If you've got a camera, take pictures of things that strike you as interesting, lovely, or funny, and look at them later. They will remind you it's not all dull and gray, there are glimmers of pleasure here and there.

Wow. I really love this idea!! 

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Needmylifeback   
Needmylifeback

When they upped my buspar nov 23 (to 30mg am/15mg pm) I went dead numb. My son came to tell me in person that the drs had found two cancerous lesions on his head and neck.... He just turned 25yr old, has been married almost three years, just had his first baby ~preemie in march, and started law school this past august.

 

He fully expected me to be emotionally fragile as I have been since the dog accident 2008. But I had nothing!! I felt flat. Nothing at all. That was when I was sure this drug was not good for me!! Although I had enjoyed the break from the tears and emotional upheaval!!! But being totally flat is not healthy at all.... So I began reading all I could on buspars side effects.

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NoMeaning25   
NoMeaning25

These people are 6-8-10 years off (Druid, Buxy etc) and still have anhedonia, DR/DP, apathy i cant live like this for 10 years :'( oh no this is just too much to handle

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Newbeginning   
Newbeginning

Hello everyone,

 

I'm new here :). Just started on the withdrawal wagon a few weeks ago, under dr supervision.

 

I read through all the thread about "anhedonia"/demotivation/apathy. I can identify with much of what was said. I still have to wonder though, how can we be sure it is not a symptom of depression?

 

Depression can manifest in a lot of ways and "atypical depression" often involves fatigue and apathy.

 

It's also entirely possible that atypical depression is a result of chronic antidepressant use. In my own experience, lack of motivation often emerged after starting SSRIs and seeing improvement in the most severe symptoms (lack of appetite, anxiety, crying spells, insomnia, guilt, rumination). After about 6-8 weeks on the SSRRI, these symptoms would improve and be replaced with apathy. I always assumed it was a residual symptom of depression (that is, a symptom that didn't respond to the antidepressant). However, these symptoms would typically not improve on antidepressants.

 

I also noticed these symptoms got worse over the years. With any new episode of depression treated effectively with SSRIs, the residual apathy seemed worse.

 

I eventually got to a point when the apathy was so bad that I couldn't shower or do my school work even when it was late. Deadlines and bad consequences had no effect on me, other than the dread that came after the fact when I realized I would have to face my failures in front of others, with no reasonable explanation. I dreaded facing others, knowing they would think I was lazy or irresponsible.

 

It's then that I started wondering if the SSRIs might be making the apathy worse, because this episode of worse apathy coincided with a time when I took an SSRI at a much higher dose and for a much longer time than I usually did. The nurse just refused to lower the dose or help me quit. Every time I brought up the topic she made it clear she was not supportive of the idea because I risked a relapse into worse depressive symptoms. I didn't know what I was getting in and was too busy (and not assertive enough) to insist, so I let it go. That's how I ended taking 200mg zoloft for about 1 year and 10 months. 

 

Anyway, back to the apathy, the only thing that helped me was taking Nuvigil (a stimulant) 3-4 times a week. I know it is not a long term solution, but it's the only thing that helps me function. I don't take it everyday and can often go several days without taking it and still have less apathy. I basically use it to get me going and then the things that I get done help my mood further and further reduce the apathy. So I depend on it to fight the apathy, but I do the work too.

 

I think it's important for us who are going through this to keep an open mind and don't just assume it's only withdrawal and/or assume all we can do is wait to detox or wait for the brain to naturally regain balance. I'm not denying the horrible toll that withdrawal from antidepressants can take! What I'm saying is that there are many other factors at play that affect our brain health and they should not be dismissed. It is empowering to know we're not passive in this process. The brain has an immense potential to adapt (so-called brain plasticity) and anything we learn literally changes the connections between neurons and increases brain mass. We should not underestimate the power we have in shaping our brain through changes in cognition, behaviors, experiences, learning, nutrition, exercise, meditation, relationships, spirituality and so much more.

 

I read with interest the information on fish oil and magnesium on this forum (still reading). Fish oil helped me with motivation long time ago when the apathy was not as bad as it is now. I'm starting a new trial with a higher dose to support my brain in regaining balance. Will comment on that thread another day too.

 

One thing I recommend to anyone having any symptoms of depression (including apathy) is to get checked for possible physical causes once a year: thyroid, sex hormones, anemia, B 12 level, vitamin d level. Each of these things can cause symptoms of clinical depression.

 

At least in my own case, It's hard to tell if the apathy is due to withdrawal. It could be depression, a consequence of chronic antidepressant use, or even something else. I would be very interested in hearing how you found out the apathy was due to withdrawal.

 

Best wishes to all of you. I'm learning from everything you share and hope I can be of help too.

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daisy33   
daisy33

Im glad to hear Im not the only one who cannot make decisions. I am made fun of for it...but to honest, I cant make a decision because I dont really care. I find that I often just dont care about things that everyone else enjoys. What is odd--is that I am sad that I dont care...? WTF? I feel like its a sick joke. Not only do I not really enjoy anything, but I also have to feel sorry for myself for not enjoying it! AHH.

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daisy33   
daisy33

Has anyone had significant relief from accupuncture? How long did you have to go?

 

Can anyone recommend something else to cure severe anhedonia? (besides counseling...already doing that).

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