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Anhedonia, apathy, demotivation, emotional numbness

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music321

I'm concerned (to the extent that I'm able to be concerned about anything).  After having been on SSRI meds for 20+ years, I am currently on 11.6mg of prozac, and can feel very little.  The heights of joy, aesthetic appreciation, sorrow, etc. are not accessible to me.  I cry about three times a year.  Music means nothing.  Sex means nothing.  Occasionally, I'll get faint glimpses of these emotions.  I can really only exist in two states:  "emptiness" or "not emptiness".  

 

I wonder if I'll ever feel again.  After being anesthetized for so long, I'm worried that this is a permanent state.  Does anyone have any words of wisdom?

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PapayaShake

Reading similar exeriences from all of you gives me some kind of hope, that all thos will pass.

 

In my experience, I started tappering becuse I was getting emotionally numb. Now that I am reaching smaller doses the anhedonia I'm experiencing if far whorse that the numbness I was trying to run away from, but going back is not even somenthing I want to consider.

 

Right now is like my life is just a big lie, or a carfully acted set up in the best case. I fake I'm myself so I wont loose my girlfriend, and whats left of my relationships. I fake I care, I fake laughing, I fake loving or kissing. actually I just want to be alone, I don't want to be around anyone or do any or the thigns I used to enjoy. But I keep on faking because I hope I will wake wake up one day and enjoy the things I suspect I love and like. My favorite song turned into just another song, same goes with my favorite food or TV show. And I dont want to do this in a I-don't-want-to-do-anything depressive way, but rahter I-couldn't-care-any-less-about-anything way.

 

I'm just like a dead body that is still breathing.

 

In ocassions I experience little windows, but they are so quick and weak that I cant tell If they were real or not.

 

 

as I said thanks for sharing your experiences, I don't know if i could make it if i didn't know that this is happening to others and that there is healing on ther other side.

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PapayaShake

I'm concerned (to the extent that I'm able to be concerned about anything).  After having been on SSRI meds for 20+ years, I am currently on 11.6mg of prozac, and can feel very little.  The heights of joy, aesthetic appreciation, sorrow, etc. are not accessible to me.  I cry about three times a year.  Music means nothing.  Sex means nothing.  Occasionally, I'll get faint glimpses of these emotions.  I can really only exist in two states:  "emptiness" or "not emptiness".  

 

I wonder if I'll ever feel again.  After being anesthetized for so long, I'm worried that this is a permanent state.  Does anyone have any words of wisdom?

 

I can totally relate to this, I used to turn up the volume in the car and sing shamelessly loud, Feeling as if i was giving a concert. I used to enjoy drawing, and would get lost in wordls of imagination to run away from reality and it fueled me to keep on living. Now Im like dead inside.

 

Sex means nothing, and most of the time I'm in the emptiness state.

 

I really dont have any words of windsdom since I'm in this state myself and still can't say Im out of it, but reading tat other people went throug it gives me hope that I will get better to. Thos glimpses of myself remeind me that I'm sill somewhere to be found

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nicolantana

Hi Papayashake,

 

Getting some solace from your post. I'm going thorugh the exact same stuff as are many others.

I need daily reminders that I'm not going mad, that this is a chemically induced state which will pass eventually

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PapayaShake

Hi Papayashake,

 

Getting some solace from your post. I'm going thorugh the exact same stuff as are many others.

I need daily reminders that I'm not going mad, that this is a chemically induced state which will pass eventually

Hi Nicolantana,

 

Im glad it was helpful.

No, you're not going mad.At our worst times we even forget we were once able to be any different than what we are now. while on windows we ask ourselves how were we so bad. But there's healing, an we will recover eventually.

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raven530

My waves are months long at a time. Windows getting clearer all the time but damn... Why do the waves have to last so long. Every time it's enough to sow seeds of doubt over whether I'll see another window again

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nicolantana

I'm six weeks deep now man. longest yet. next window will be a miracle

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raven530

It'll come. Brain is working really hard to find it's old equilibrium

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Kiaza

I've been in this anhedonic state for almost a year now, don't care if I die today or after 20 years. I barely move, I tried a new hobby (roller derby) but it gives me no pleasure. Sometimes I walk a few miles but usually I stay indoors (I'm on disability now) I get nausea immediately if I feel pressure or stress at all. God this sucks.

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Newbeginning

Has anyone tried therapy to address lack of motivation/apathy?

 

Are there any success stories of people getting their motivation back? I've had 2 windows in 3 years where there was some improvement and each lasted a few weeks, but overall it has not improved even though my doses are much lower now than 3 years ago.

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aberdeen

Hey NB. There are recovery stories, but theyre hard to find. I know its discouraging, I feel the same way. I once read a story of an older woman in her 60s who took 9 years to feel fully! At this point, for me, I don't find it disheartening to hear that it took many years, as long as it eventually came. This comes after fearing that its permanent. But unless it lasts until I'm 100 and finished, I guess it's not permanent. I do get little lifts (outside of those magical windows), I respond to people. If I see a group of people I like, or have a day spent with people I enjoy planned, I do feel a lift, maybe thats one stimulus that penetrates the grey. Or maybe social activity uses different receptors? I also felt great excitement the day we surprised our children with a trip to the tropics, I wonder if that would have been possible several years ago? Maybe thats improvement. Anyway I pray for complete 100% healing in this area for all of us who struggle with anhedonia. I can live with lingering symptoms (I still get mild morning anxiety for example which I never had before, or inflammatory skin issues, depression before my period, all things that worsened with WD and have remained)but not this symptom. This one I want to recover from because as you know, it's not fully living when your positive emotions are trapped somewhere. Hang in there...I know I've seen at least a few who recovered from it. Aeroman comes to mind, and Nadia, who 6 or 7 years later is reading novels again. There are others. So please have hope. I still do. Do you find anhedonia to fluctuate in intensity with your menstrual cycle? I do. Which tells me it could be hormonal (induced by meds initially), in which case, there may be things we can try eventually.

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apathetic

i wrote a post on one site about apathy and i'd like to share it with you, what helped me a bit.
i still wasn't feeling, but i "felt" things like hope, motivation and similar.
right now, i don't feel either hope or hopelessness. i can talk about things for example, but i don't really mean what i'm saying, because nothing is based on what i'm really thinking.

so, here's what i wrote (i was writing about depression, so i changed some things):

 

 

 

How can I help you, how did I start feeling a bit, just a tiny bit better when it comes to not being able to feel ?

- trying to stop feeding my irrational thoughts, recognizing them and trying my hardest to change them into rational ones. Apathy doesn't magically go away when you start thinking a bit more rationally, but it can help you cope a lot and make you feel that there is hope. I don't say that it's easy, but if you have enough energy, even if you have that one special hour of the day where your syndrome isn't as strong as usual, then grab that moment and try to use it on some way that can benefit your mental health.

- engaging in activities that normal people do -- trying to take care of yourself, for example. Generally, imagining how would a normal person function like and trying your hardest to do it. This is the most focused on the outside, not on the inside. Of course, on the inside too, but I know that when you're suffering from this, you mentally won't be able to do much. But mental exercise can help, and no, I'm again saying, it's not easy.

- letting it go. And by this, I mean being in the moment, trying to experience things around you. That helped me feel even a tiny bit. Example: okay, here's a good song on the radio while I'm driving. I'll try to fake happiness, singing, and then I somehow feel some tiny, tiny, tiniest pleasure in doing that. "Fake it 'til you make it", right ? That's basically the only thing we can do at this kind of situation.

 

 

"faking it" can sometimes help to adapt to the normal world. asking yourself: how would a normal person react ? focusing on rational. trying, trying, trying. waiting.

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aberdeen

Yes sometimes I can achieve the "reward" sense but without anticipation before or pleasure during the task, its hard to get into any project. Have to really push through a thicker than normal wall to get anything done.

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Newbeginning

Hey NB. There are recovery stories, but theyre hard to find. I know its discouraging, I feel the same way. I once read a story of an older woman in her 60s who took 9 years to feel fully! At this point, for me, I don't find it disheartening to hear that it took many years, as long as it eventually came. This comes after fearing that its permanent. But unless it lasts until I'm 100 and finished, I guess it's not permanent. I do get little lifts (outside of those magical windows), I respond to people. If I see a group of people I like, or have a day spent with people I enjoy planned, I do feel a lift, maybe thats one stimulus that penetrates the grey. Or maybe social activity uses different receptors? I also felt great excitement the day we surprised our children with a trip to the tropics, I wonder if that would have been possible several years ago? Maybe thats improvement. Anyway I pray for complete 100% healing in this area for all of us who struggle with anhedonia. I can live with lingering symptoms (I still get mild morning anxiety for example which I never had before, or inflammatory skin issues, depression before my period, all things that worsened with WD and have remained)but not this symptom. This one I want to recover from because as you know, it's not fully living when your positive emotions are trapped somewhere. Hang in there...I know I've seen at least a few who recovered from it. Aeroman comes to mind, and Nadia, who 6 or 7 years later is reading novels again. There are others. So please have hope. I still do. Do you find anhedonia to fluctuate in intensity with your menstrual cycle? I do. Which tells me it could be hormonal (induced by meds initially), in which case, there may be things we can try eventually.

 

Hi,

 

I was wondering how you were doing. It will soon be a year since you jump. I remember you saying the year you jumped was better than ever before. Was hoping you had continued to improve.

 

My anhedonia is not so much about emotion. I think I can feel emotions. Maybe not as intensely, but I do enjoy movies or TV shows or hanging out with friends. It's the motivation part that I struggle the most with. Some of the things you can do like shower regularly, work, clean your home, I can't find the will to do. I can spend months just laying on the couch, barely moving. I have very little energy or drive.

 

I do get more tired before my period but have not noticed a change in anhedonia.

 

How long was your longest window so far?

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Newbeginning

i wrote a post on one site about apathy and i'd like to share it with you, what helped me a bit.

i still wasn't feeling, but i "felt" things like hope, motivation and similar.

right now, i don't feel either hope or hopelessness. i can talk about things for example, but i don't really mean what i'm saying, because nothing is based on what i'm really thinking.

 

so, here's what i wrote (i was writing about depression, so i changed some things):

 

 

 

 

How can I help you, how did I start feeling a bit, just a tiny bit better when it comes to not being able to feel ?

 

- trying to stop feeding my irrational thoughts, recognizing them and trying my hardest to change them into rational ones. Apathy doesn't magically go away when you start thinking a bit more rationally, but it can help you cope a lot and make you feel that there is hope. I don't say that it's easy, but if you have enough energy, even if you have that one special hour of the day where your syndrome isn't as strong as usual, then grab that moment and try to use it on some way that can benefit your mental health.

 

- engaging in activities that normal people do -- trying to take care of yourself, for example. Generally, imagining how would a normal person function like and trying your hardest to do it. This is the most focused on the outside, not on the inside. Of course, on the inside too, but I know that when you're suffering from this, you mentally won't be able to do much. But mental exercise can help, and no, I'm again saying, it's not easy.

 

- letting it go. And by this, I mean being in the moment, trying to experience things around you. That helped me feel even a tiny bit. Example: okay, here's a good song on the radio while I'm driving. I'll try to fake happiness, singing, and then I somehow feel some tiny, tiny, tiniest pleasure in doing that. "Fake it 'til you make it", right ? That's basically the only thing we can do at this kind of situation.

 

 

"faking it" can sometimes help to adapt to the normal world. asking yourself: how would a normal person react ? focusing on rational. trying, trying, trying. waiting.

 

In the past, pushing myself to do things even with 0 motivation helped me. As the apathy worsened over time, it does seem to help anymore.

 

When I had a window, pushing myself to do things helped again. It was not perfect. I still needed to push a lot, but at least the effort led to some improvement.

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apathetic

 

In the past, pushing myself to do things even with 0 motivation helped me. As the apathy worsened over time, it does seem to help anymore.

When I had a window, pushing myself to do things helped again. It was not perfect. I still needed to push a lot, but at least the effort led to some improvement.

 

i agree. my apathy has worsened over time also. i was completely okay with either staying in the bed for 3 days, or walking non-stop for 3 days, it was all the same to me and i could do both, it just didn't matter, nothing mattered.

i think that i've had one window and you described it right, it definitely wasn't perfect and i doubt that it would be when the window comes, but i described the window as "having enough motivation/energy/anything else related to try to get better and see some small improvement". it's the worst when you just stop being interested in wanting to get better, that's very bad. or when you lose the sense of trying to get better. like, i try things, they make sense at the beginning, but then after a short period of time, couple of days or one week, they lose their sense and i'm back to the beginning. horrible cycle.

apathy has worsened (if we could call that apathy) for me when i just stopped caring about anything. i stopped caring about pushing myself, i stopped caring about getting better, i stopped caring about am i the hopeless case or not. i just lived, without any point in it, days were passing and i was doing nothing, or even if i was doing something, i didn't see the point of it. and it didn't bother me at all, i just continued "living".

before that state, i was so depressed, anxious and stressed in general that i would go into that state of just not caring about anything.
but here i am. i can just hope that it goes away.
i also stopped caring about the worsened memory, concentration, apathy, about anything that was concerning me so much that i felt so suicidal and hopeless. 

i'm not suicidal anymore.

sorry if you can't relate to this, it's just how i feel and i'm not sure if it's apathy. but it's something.

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Newbeginning

Hi Apathetic,

 

I can relate to what you describe. There were long periods of time where I didn't realize it but I had stopped caring about getting better. Every now and then I'd get angry about the lack of change, but I tried to just accept it because I realized worrying about it wouldn't help me. The good side of that is that I was not torturing myself about something I didn't know how to change. The bad side is that looking back I should have at least sought therapy. I was convinced if it was drug induced there was nothing I could do and that therapy wouldn't work, but that's not necessarily true. I now regret wasting the last 2 years instead of seeking help.

 

It all changed after I changed my dose last October. First updosing to try to get better from apathy after it returned after a long (3 month) window. In the past, updosing had gotten rid of withdrawal symptoms after a cut, so I thought it might help. Instead, it made me very depressed and anxious. All of a sudden I was tortured by the apathy. I also realized I had deadlines to get better because I was running out of money. I realized I would have to leave my PhD undone after completing 70% of it through withdrawal and apathy, which involved a lot of money and sacrifice. I'd have to lose my apartment, separate from my best friend who is like family to me and move back with my parents in a different country. I'd have to lose everything I worked hard for and dreamed in the last 10 years of my life.

 

Between the anxiety of withdrawal and the anxiety of this realization, I developed severe depression. I have not changed my dose in 5 months, but the depression is still there. Only now getting better and being replaced with even more severe apathy and fatigue. Unlike you, I don't think I could walk for 3 hours. That would take a lot of energy I don't have, so in my case it's a mix of no motivation and no energy to even move. 

 

I think many times I'd rather be dead than live like this or have to go through all the losses that are coming if I can't get better. I'm in therapy now. Have you tried therapy? When my family was visiting I was able to get a major part of my dissertation done in spite of the apathy. It was a miracle. To this day I have no idea how I did it, except that my family encouraged me so much and gave me so much love that I pushed myself harder. Maybe it was a window and I did not realize it was until they showed up and helped me realize I could do more. 

 

The point is that sometimes we can break through the apathy if we have the right support and help. I would seek therapy if I was you. I'm in an intensive therapy program now. 6 hours of group therapy a week plus individual therapy. It's been 2 weeks and no improvement yet, but I'm not giving up.

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aberdeen

Hey newbeginning. I would say I get a window a month now, and its a day or two, and like clockwork, its around when I ovulate. Whatever it is the hormones do to my brain at that time, it works. I feel more interested in things, more connected to "me" (feelings for my favorite songs, wanting to read or be creative, feeling emotions for my loved ones more strongly). I totally get the motivation thing. I almost always feel like I could kill a whole day doing nothing besides what I absoultely have no choice but to tackle (work, household, children, and they all feel like wayyyy too much). Then when the window arrives, its much easier, I actually feel a slight desire to attack my to do lists rather than think "whatever who cares".

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nicolantana

Very well put Aberdeen. I experience the very same

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apathetic

newbeginning,

yes, i am in therapy and my doctor figured out that i'm suffering from withdrawal and knows exactly what to do. our therapy goal, the main one, is to survive, and then when i'm able to survive, to try to ease the symptoms that are changing their shape almost every week.

therapy is helpful for depression, but there's that one thing that is hard to catch inside of you - will to get better. i know that, sometimes i can't even begin with the activity, or when i begin, i can't finish it because of the symptoms that are bothering me, and the main one is lack of motivation to stay focused on the goal. i don't know if you have that problem, but i think that sticking to one thing can benefit us, but the question is - how ?

i don't know what symptom that is, but from my point of view, it somehow looks like lack of motivation, the thing that i just described. that was/is my main problem with therapy in general. i suffer more from lack of mental motivation more than physical. that has been, i guess, my problem for the past month.

i'm glad that you're not giving up. i promised myself that i won't give up either. that's why i'm searching for every method possible to get rid of this.
today, for example, is a bit better. i cleaned my house. my cognition and motivation are better. i'm planning to do as much as i can when i'm still good. this "still" makes me feel sad. still not giving up, anyways.

and that about apathy... gives me hope. thank you. so much. it feels like it's going to be like this forever for most of the time and sometimes, i feel silly for feeling like there is hope. but that can pass, also. 

everything will, i guess. if it happened to others, it can happen to us too.
i also know one person in real life who recovered from withdrawal and now feels, even more than she should haha, but there is a way to control emotions and there isn't any way to get rid of the apathy, except patience and waiting.

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aberdeen

There is always hope! Newbeginning yes I still maintain that in terms of healing from my collection of wd symptoms, I have noticed a big improvement since coming off last June. Most notable with DR, depression, and general anxiety/adrenaline surges. I have had a reprieve now of months, and that is a record by far. While tapering I would have a few weeks of windows from those symptoms and thats it, even at the end, by which point my symptoms were tolerable and mild compared to where I started, they still never stayed away as long as they do now. Also, just wanted to explain, when I said I get a window a month, and its a day or two (up above in response to your other post here), I was referring specifically to how long my windows from anhedonia are. As I said, my windows in general (from other wd symtoms) are very long now!

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nicolantana

hey....anyone else have unnatural eyes? I'm clean six months but still glassy eyed....

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brassmonkey

Monica (DW) could always tell when I was having WD problems because of my "paxil eyes".  Still get them from time to time.

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nicolantana

interesting. it's not something that I hear discussed much but I guess it's par for the course. in my few little windows my eyes were clearer too.

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apathetic

I've dreamed about someone who I really love dying. It was all really touching in a depressed way in the dream (I don't know the word). The thing is, when I woke up, even though the person means a lot to me, I couldn't feel a thing. I tried, but I couldn't. Then I gave up, like I usually give up, because I don't care enough to continue doing anything, and it's not even bothering me. Then I started behaving like nothing happened.

 

A normal person would cry. At least feel bad if he/she can't cry. I didn't even feel bad. And I don't feel anything because of that.

 

This has worsened, in April I would feel so bad because I couldn't feel, which is still something.

 

I guess that this is how emotional anesthesia feels like.

 

Did anyone overcome this type of emotional anesthesia/apathy ? Does it get better ?
I'm still using medications, so it's understandable why, but I don't know. Seems like I'm completely emotionally dead.

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Newbeginning
On 6/19/2017 at 1:27 AM, apathetic said:

I've dreamed about someone who I really love dying. It was all really touching in a depressed way in the dream (I don't know the word). The thing is, when I woke up, even though the person means a lot to me, I couldn't feel a thing. I tried, but I couldn't. Then I gave up, like I usually give up, because I don't care enough to continue doing anything, and it's not even bothering me. Then I started behaving like nothing happened.

 

A normal person would cry. At least feel bad if he/she can't cry. I didn't even feel bad. And I don't feel anything because of that.

 

This has worsened, in April I would feel so bad because I couldn't feel, which is still something.

 

I guess that this is how emotional anesthesia feels like.

 

Did anyone overcome this type of emotional anesthesia/apathy ? Does it get better ?
I'm still using medications, so it's understandable why, but I don't know. Seems like I'm completely emotionally dead.

 

I've heard of people who got better after a time off the drugs. I think not judging yourself for not feeling is helpful. The more we stress about the symptoms, the longer they seem to last...

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Newbeginning
On 5/23/2017 at 10:57 AM, aberdeen said:

There is always hope! Newbeginning yes I still maintain that in terms of healing from my collection of wd symptoms, I have noticed a big improvement since coming off last June. Most notable with DR, depression, and general anxiety/adrenaline surges. I have had a reprieve now of months, and that is a record by far. While tapering I would have a few weeks of windows from those symptoms and thats it, even at the end, by which point my symptoms were tolerable and mild compared to where I started, they still never stayed away as long as they do now. Also, just wanted to explain, when I said I get a window a month, and its a day or two (up above in response to your other post here), I was referring specifically to how long my windows from anhedonia are. As I said, my windows in general (from other wd symtoms) are very long now!

 

That's so great to hear Aberdeen (about your long windows)! But I'm discouraged that your windows from the anhedonia are still so brief  after a year off. Your anhedonia seems less severe than mine because I could not push myself to work or do basics right now. I used to be able to, but 3 years ago that changed. 

 

From your signature, it seems your anhedonia could be more withdrawal than a side effect. It showed up during the change to generic and appeared along with a lot of other typical withdrawal symptoms. I also remember you noted it didn't get better as you decreased dose. 

 

What is the longest window you had in anhedonia?

 

 

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nicolantana

Guys I emerged from Anhedonia overnight last week. life gets better everyday. it's one of the most amazing experiences of my life if it lasts.

 

I'm staying grounded though. should I be wary? do people emerge from this and feel good emotions for a time before feeling bad ones?

 

I'll enjoy it for now either way.

 

I was very happy/ two years ago...maybe I'm just back to that default setting...

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aberdeen

Thats great!! Yes I have heard of people getting better fast like this actually, or gradual also. Go with it! Its such a great sign. I too have been feeling better. To answer your question Newbeginning, I just had my longest anhedonia window recently and it was a few weeks! I had more emotional connections, got teary over things in a happy/sad way, saw ideas for creative solutions or artistic projects/home improvements/things to do with the kids and even felt like making new recipes and playing again, along with an increased motivation to tackle it all. It lasted longer than usual. I can now officially say that a year off is making a difference even in that most stubborn of areas. I havent felt great for the last week but it began with my period so I blame hormones. Hang in there, look to us who are finally having improvements, it does get better! 

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Prestorb

This is awesome news and very encouraging, thanks so much for sharing!!!

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Hellbutrin

Hi everyone,

 

I was just wondering if anyone could give me some feedback on their experiences with anhedonia from withdrawal from antidepressants and how long it lasted. I tapered off of Wellbutrin completely 3 weeks ago but I only tapered for a month and a half, so I haven't seen any difference in my symptoms. I know that three weeks is not a long time to wait for symptoms to improve since I was taking Wellbutrin for over a year, but I was taking the lowest dose of the medication that I could take. I've been having SEVERE anhedonia, so much so that I can't seen to establish any level of self awareness. I've also been having a pretty difficult time concentrating the last few weeks, which is pretty concerning to me as well. I've had some reassuring feedback from the site administrators on some of my other posts, but I wanted to see if any other site users have experienced prolonged anhedonia when using a relatively low dose of a antidepressant over an extended amount of time, and what type of changes they experienced when they noticed the anhedonia starting to ease away. Any feedback is much appreciated!

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theloneranger86

its been over a year for me now. Im still experiencing full blown anhedonia , pssd and abnormal urinary function

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Hellbutrin
1 hour ago, theloneranger86 said:

its been over a year for me now. Im still experiencing full blown anhedonia , pssd and abnormal urinary function

Hi theloneranger86,

 

What kind of medication were you taking and for how long? I think that the severity of withdrawal is dependent on the type of medication you are taking and how long you are taking it. Have you experienced any windows and waves during the time that you have had anhedonia, passed and abnormal urinary function?

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theloneranger86

yes i have experience windows in all 3 aspects, but i wasnt anywhere close to normal during any of those windows, just somewhat better 

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Hellbutrin
On 8/28/2017 at 4:20 PM, theloneranger86 said:

yes i have experience windows in all 3 aspects, but i wasnt anywhere close to normal during any of those windows, just somewhat better 

Were you taking a high dosage of whatever medication you were using?

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theloneranger86

yes extremely high dose of paroxetine / paxil @ 37.5 mg I think 45/ 50 mg is the highest possible dose that someone can recommend

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