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Recovered from Marijuana induced DP/DR


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#13 ManOnTheSilverMountain

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Posted 26 February 2016 - 04:21 PM

Hi All,

 

My OD and subsequent ordeal with DP/DR was in May of 2014 and I'm now coming up on 2 years.  It's been about a year since I had any DP/DR symptoms and I'm completely back to normal.  I have had several times where I've had a LOT of caffeine and even a few hangovers with no DP/DR symptoms of any kind.  I am definitely 100% recovered.  For those who've read my posts, you know I had really serious DP/DR symptoms that lasted quite a while.  Based on my experience and the experiences of the many other people I've corresponded with and talked to, it seems like marijuana induced DP/DR lasts between 3 and 6 months for most people who get it.  It goes away faster if you work diligently on getting rid of it (see my 12 points in a previous post). 

 

I'm also a firm believer that you don't need to have a pre-existing anxiety disorder to get DP/DR from marijuana.  All you need is to have a serious and prolonged panic attack while you're high.  This happens to a lot of people....particularly young people.  There are a few commonalities in most of the marijuana panic attack stories I've read and heard.  You are at a high risk of having a bad panic attack from pot and getting DP/DR under the following circumstances:

 

1. Use of edibles - edibles produce a MUCH longer high with different sensations that can be more physical in nature.

2. Large or larger dose than usual - larger or more THC potent doses of marijuana can have a much different effect than smaller doses.

3. Inexperience or infrequent use - most people who experience serious panic attacks that cause DP/DR do not have an established tolerance to marijuana and/or are not use to its effects.

4. Youth - young people are often less emotionally prepared to deal with the intense and unexpected effects of hallucinogenics and are more prone to panic attacks.

5. Intense setting/set - how you respond to being high on marijuana depends somewhat on the setting and your mind-set at the time.  If you're in a nice, quiet place and you're pretty happy when you get high, you have less of a chance of panic than say, if you're at a rave and your boyfriend just broke up with you. 

 

These are of course, generalizations.  I had my overdose at the age of 46 and although I hadn't used marijuana in few years, I was hardly unfamiliar with it, having used quite a bit when I was younger.  I was also alone at home in a quiet, relaxing setting and in a pretty good mood....looking forward to a bit of fun.  However, in my case, I did have a huge dose of edible marijuana after not using for several years.  I had no tolerance and although I expected it to be a pleasant experience, it turned out to be one of the most intensely horrifying experiences of my life. 

 

I had absolutely no history of anxiety and the whole experience was very eye-opening for me.  I had no idea that it was possible to experience generalized anxiety....e.g. anxiety about nothing in particular. 

 

Now that I'm looking at this experience in the rear-view mirror at a good emotional distance, I've gained a real appreciation for my mental and emotional health and how fragile it actually is.  I've also developed a mistrust of marijuana as a recreational drug.  I'm fine with it as a medicine, and I still think it shouldn't be criminalized, but it is far from harmless.  I've had a few wicked hang-overs from drinking that left me feeling sick for a day or two, but my misadventure with marijuana left me an emotional and cognitive cripple for months and landed me in therapy.  To be frank, I'm a bit surprised that this dark side of marijuana isn't more widely known and that the marijuana industry hasn't taken steps to make the public more aware of it.  I wouldn't wish the experience on my worst enemy and I've read enough recent accounts of other people who've had similar experience to know that mine was not an isolated case. 

 

People are showing up at ERs more frequently in all the states where marijuana has been legalized and these people are reporting extended DP/DR symptoms as a result.  I think it's high time (pun completely intended) that the public was educated about the very real possibility of a marijuana overdose and the terrifying and lengthy consequences.  Nothing annoys me more than the many pundits who claim that it's impossible to overdose on marijuana because they define an overdose only as being a fatal misadventure.  I don't doubt that thousands of people are subjected to extended marijuana induced DP/DR on a regular basis, but the public never hears about it because the marijuana industry doesn't want to advertise the risk and because people are reluctant to come forward.

 

I think the marijuana industry has a responsibility to educate and inform people about the risk.  I'd be an advocate of some sort of labeling like we currently require on alcoholic beverages.  It certainly would have saved me from experiencing the worst year of my life.   



#14 sydneyarnce

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Posted 26 February 2016 - 05:41 PM

After 5 months, I've completely recovered from marijuana induced DP/DR. My post in the Introductions section of this site tells the story of how it happened. Basically, I overdosed on edible marijuana while I was home alone for a weekend and had an intense and prolonged panic episode that seemed to last forever. After about 20 hours of intense tripping and constant panic, I was left with extreme anxiety and constant sensations of adrenaline surging through my body. Within a few days the DP/DR started. I stopped recognizing places I went everyday and had frequent episodes where I didn't feel real or the world didn't look real. Colors were odd and cartoonish and I had strange and disturbing existential thoughts. I had compulsive ruminations and I felt like I was coming out of my skin. Basically, I felt like I got high and never came down. My biggest fear was that the condition was permanent and I had somehow damaged by brain.

I got up the courage to see my doctor and I told him the whole story. He gave me a script for Xanax, which I think was a key to making a quick recovery. He also referred me to a psychologist that had experience with DP/DR and knew a lot about anxiety. A big realization was learning that DP/DR is caused by anxiety and is really a maladaptive coping mechanism the brain uses. I thought the DP/DR symptoms were caused by the marijuana, but thankfully, I was wrong. The marijuana caused the intense and prolonged panic, and the intense and prolonged panic switched my brain into a state of heightened anxiety, which included DP/DR symptoms. That state of heightened anxiety lasted a long time (about three months) and would have lasted longer, had I not worked hard to treat it.

The main things are did to treat it are as follows:

1. I learned what was really happening to me and why - seeing a doctor and a psychologist and reading this forum all gave me a great deal of insight and helped me understand how and why this was happening, and that it was temporary.

2. I kick started my recovery with an anti-anxiety med....Xanax in my case. I desperately needed some relief from my anxiety and DP/DR symptoms, particularly in the first month after the OD. The key to recovery is slowly getting your brain out of the state of heightened anxiety. The less time you spend in an anxious state, the more your brain recovers. For me, taking a .25 mg Xanax when I started to panic broke the cycle of fear and dread that kept me in a state of heighted anxiety. Like many, I quickly developed a dread of the DP/DR symptoms such that the dread of them actually caused them. Knowing that I had a way to do self-rescue and stop the symptoms by taking a pill really stopped the cycle of dread and rumination and allowed me to get some relief. Xanax always worked to make me feel grounded and back in sync with reality, if only for a few hours. I gradually used it less and less and I haven't used any in about a month.

3. Sleeping enough - I had to be very conscious of getting enough sleep. When I was tired, I found that the anxiety was much worse. I had to sleep regular hours and get 8 hours of sleep each night. I can't emphasize this enough. It made a big difference, as it seemed to push the neuro-chemical reset button in my brain.

4. Exercise - One of the things my doctor told me is that the state of heightened anxiety that my brain was stuck in, was causing my body to produce extra adrenaline. My blood pressure was up, my pulse was up and I had constant anxiety pangs and nausea at first. Exercise burns adrenaline and I quickly found that if I exercised daily, it had a big effect in decreasing my DP/DR and my anxiety. I was more relaxed afterward, I slept better and I felt much more grounded. It also improved my health dramatically, as I lost weight and am now in much better shape.

5. Better diet - I didn't eat poorly before my experience, but in order to recover, I had to stop eating foods that were hard to digest or unhealthy. I basically cut my calorie intake in half, stopped using any caffiene and stopped drinking any alcohol. I started eating whole foods and I had to avoid foods high in sugar, as they triggered anxiety. Alcohol, in particular, had an odd effect. I could drink and get a buzz and felt fine, but after it wore off, I would have serious anxiety and it would magnify my DP/DR symptoms. I stayed away from alcohol and caffiene during my entire recovery and ate a lot of raw fruits and vegetables and nuts. I was very sensitive to caffiene for about 4 months. Even a little coffee would immediately kick in serious DP/DR symptoms. I had to stay away from it, but it was a good indicator for when my brain returned to normal. I can now drink all the coffee I want without any ill effects.

6. Dietary supplements - I did a few things here that were recommended by my doctor and psychologist. I started taking B family supplements, magnesium taurate, high potency fish oil, vitamin E and other "brain vitamins". I also started taking a multivitamin. I sometimes used herbal teas with a calming effect, such as passion flower, valerian root and chamomile, but these didn't help much once I was already anxious or in the midst of panic. I think the vitamins definitely helped, as I felt much more physically and psychologically comfortable.

7. Counseling - I saw a psychologist who specialized in anxiety disorders. He knew all about DP/DR and he had me buy a book on Amazon for about $15 called the Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. This was very helpful in recognizing and intervening in my anxiety. It also taught me a lot of cognitive behavioral techniques for relaxing myself and breaking cycles of rumination. I see a lot of people on this site who see psychiatrists and end up with multiple diagnoses and lots of different meds. It seems to me that a lot of psychiatrists aren't familiar with anxiety and DP/DR, and often make inaccurate diagnoses, label people and push pills. My psychologist was very reassuring, didn't label me with diagnoses and gave me excellent tools to recover. In particular, I learned some relaxation techniques that helped me calm myself.

8. Get out and do stuff - this was very hard for me, as I didn't feel like leaving the house or going anywhere. I joined a sports league and kept up a pretty busy social schedule as soon as the initial crisis ended (about two weeks into it). I did a lot of walking outside, hiking, fishing, jogging and activities with other people. I particularly enjoyed playing sports because it was a social activity as well as exercise. It helped me to go to work because I was able to focus and while at work and this kept my mind from wandering.

9. Keep occupied - My worst times were when I was alone with nothing to do. My mind would wander to dark places and would enter cycles of rumination and dread. I found that listening to audio books helped a lot, as did playing video games. I had to be proactive about structuring my time so I was either with someone else or I had something to do. Driving in the car was particularly difficult without audio books.

10. Tell people about it and tell them how to help - I told my family, my boss, my doctor, my kids, etc. about my anxiety and DP/DR. I explained what it was (although not necessarily how I got it) and what I was doing to recover. They were very supportive and this helped me feel more secure. Once I knew that the people around me had my back, I wasn't so worried that I would freak out or have a panic attack where the people around me wouldn't know how to help.

11. Don't poke the bear - I had to avoid needless stress and anxiety. I had a habit of doing online research about DP/DR and reading DP/DR horror stories. I also liked to do thought experiments to see if I was thinking clearly. I had to stop this and keep my mind focused. One of my worst compulsions was "reality checking," in which I'd stop and look around to see if things looked "real enough." Of course, they never did and I would start an anxiety cycle that would usually result in DP/DR episodes. Now, I knew better than to do any of these things, but I kept doing them, even though they served no purpose and caused me anxiety. I had to stop this sort of self-sabotage.

12. Act your way into better thinking - I had to just put one foot in front of the other and do things even if I felt anxious and had DP/DR symptoms. In the case of anxiety, over-thinking can be the problem....analysis paralysis. I needed to keep my mind focused and keep busy by proactively structuring my time and planning things to do and to look forward to. I often had anhedonia where I just didn't feel like doing anything and felt pretty hopeless but I went through the motions until the feelings passed....and they did pass. By taking the correct actions, my brain healed and my thoughts became normal again.

It has now been 5 months. The first 2 months were the worst and the third month was tough. I had to quit worrying about how long it would take me to recover. Everyone recovers at a different rate based on their life circumstances. If you already had anxiety issues, you might need to get a handle on them before you can experience permanent recovery, but you can definitely improve and reduce your anxiety and head off symptoms of DP/DR. I made recovery the number one priority in my life because I was so miserable and it paid off. I now feel completely grounded and no longer have any DP/DR symptoms. My generalized anxiety is gone and I'm recovered. However, I'm not the same as I was. I'm now much healthier and happier. I'm much more aware of my feelings and I am more enthusiastic about life and about the people in my life. I think that having had the experience of entering that nether-world where your conciousness is alienated from reality really gives you an appreciation for reality once you get back in phase with it. I've seen that dark world and I'm glad to back on the other side. I feel like I need to live the rest of my life to the fullest extent possible and I now see a lot of the things that were holding me back before I had the overdose. So, in closing, I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy and I still wouldn't want to go through it again for a million dollars, but I'm not sad that I did, because it lifted a veil from my eyes and opened the door to new possibiities that my mind had been closed to before.



Love the post.
I've had it for 4 years, but when I was pregnant with my daughter it went away then came back with my postpartum depression.
Your post mentions getting your anxiety under control and for a lot of people that's true. But now that my thoughts are so lost and I'm completely numb, I no longer even have anxiety. At all. No longer an anxious person, but the DP and dr is as strong as ever.
I do believe that panic attacks and stress in the past is what brought on the constant dpdr but now there's no panic. I'm very calm. No bad thoughts, but then again, no thoughts at all :/
So, since my anxiety is really under control now yet I still am having dpdr. What are your thoughts?

Congrats 1000000x on recovering!!!!

#15 ManOnTheSilverMountain

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Posted 26 February 2016 - 06:58 PM

I would focus on getting treatment for the depression symptoms.  It is certainly possible that the post partum depression triggered a return of the DP/DR symptoms.  In my case, I sought out professional help, which proved to be very valuable. 



#16 sydneyarnce

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Posted 27 February 2016 - 02:00 AM

I've been on ssri's for 7 years and just got off because I don't have depression. Like I said I don't even have worry or fear anymore. Just the dpdr symptoms.

#17 partiedtoohard

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 12:51 PM

Couldn't agree more. I feel like my experience is exactly as you described. I have smoked my fair share of pot when I was younger, but I am 30 now, and after a long time of being away from it, I both ATE a very small amount, and smoked a good amount. This is what lead to what I am dealing with today. I hope my recovery story ends up exactly like yours. I am coming up on 2 months now, and I have days where I feel great. I just yesterday took a small amount of Valium to see what the drug did to me. I didn't feel too much, but I didn't have much anxiety at the time, just the "this dont seem right"  DR feeling. I have started recently eating healthier, and doing exercise, I feel like this is helping as well. You were right on the nose about how this is caused. 
My Case - 

1. Use of edibles -  although a small amount, yes i did

2. Large or larger dose than usual - I ate a very small amount, but when i did not feel much i started smoking things that were passed to me, and who knows how strong they were, or if they were laced. 

3. Inexperience or infrequent use - I had not smoked in quite some time as I was getting ready for job interviews and before that I had not smoked much at all. 

4. Youth - I am 30

5. Intense setting/set - I was in a place I had never been before, the hard rock hotel for a reggae concert. 

I panicked and left the concert without ever telling my friend that was with me, I tried to walk back to the hotel and just ended up at the wrong one, in the process i fell and hurt my foot badly. 

Mix this all with an upcoming job opportunity, Interviews, and big life changes, I believe you have a recipe for disaster. 
  I, like you, feel like while Marijuana can be very helpful for some, people should definitely know the possibly of dangers of use. I would not want this feeling on my worst enemy, it is terrible and I would do anything to go back to that night and slap myself around. But its done now, and the past cannot be changed. I feel that I can fight this and get better. It seems that the people who have gotten DR from Marijuana recover fully in about 3-6 months indeed, and I intend to be one of those people on the recovery posts. 
Silver I am happy you recovered, and I am in every way trying to mirror what you did to recover, your story (and others here too) have helped me out very much. Im not sure if you saw my recent post on your other thread, but if you dont mind I would like to talk a bit with you on Skype or a messenger as I have a few questions for you. Appreciate it :)



#18 Extrempower

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Posted 06 March 2016 - 01:38 PM

Congrats

#19 ManOnTheSilverMountain

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Posted 06 December 2016 - 10:05 AM

Hi All,

 

Checking in again at 2.5 years since my marijuana overdose in May 2014.  I have been completely recovered from all symptoms for around 1.5 years.  I have absolutely no lingering anxiety, my thinking has returned completely to normal and I never have any DP/DR sensations, even under extreme stress.  I can drink as much coffee as I want without symptoms and I can drink alcohol again without any issues, although I don't use marijuana at all.  I'd say it's as though it never even happened, but I did keep up with many of the lifestyle changes I had to adopt to recover.  I'm still 50 pounds lighter than I was, I still exercise 4 or 5 times each week and I still eat a high protein, low glycemic diet.  It took me about 3 months to get through the worst part of it and about a year before the last, lingering symptoms went away.  I detailed what I did to recover in my two main posts.  I've corresponded with many people on this forum and I'm a strong believer that most people who develop DP/DR from a marijuana misadventure do recover completely.  If you've developed DP/DR from marijuana, keep in mind that most people recover completely but they don't continue to haunt support forums, so they are under-represented in posts on forums.  Although this is an excellent forum and I come back every few months to check in, reading it exhaustively can create the impression that everyone struggles for years, has relapses of symptoms or develops a long term anxiety disorder.  That's simply not the case.  If you work at recovery, you can completely beat this and come out better than you went in.

 

Cheers!

MSM



#20 Guest_Auraa_*

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Posted 06 December 2016 - 10:26 AM

Thank you for checking in. Glad to hear things are still going well for you! :)



#21 Jjj123

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Posted 09 February 2017 - 07:05 PM

Msm Ur posts give me hope. Was yours 24/7? Or episodic? You declared yourself cured at 5 months but then say one year for lingering symptoms? Can you elaborate?

Thanks bro. Love u

#22 Jjj123

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 05:09 AM

RSJ, I think MSM's was episodic to which I would say he indeed was lucky.  Dealing with this 24/7 is a whole other nightmare.  Not to say I don't appreciate MSM and his posts which I totally do.



#23 Lallo

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 07:12 AM

I'm glad to hear that you have recovered and it's nice to read your recommendations so I can follow them to recover myself.

I'm also stuck in a lot of existential thoughts and I have an analyzing personality and always think a lot about life even before my dp/dr.

My question to you is: will you ever smoke again?

I took lsd and experienced dp/dr a week later (not a bad trip, it was amazing) so I think it was my underlying anxiety in combination with maybe the drug...

I'm not doing any drugs right now but I hope to be able to do it again some day. I don't use it often I only do mdma and lsd twice a year or something and I never drink alcohol.

Someone would say that it's better to stay of everything forever and yes I can't disagree with that but still I find drugs to be a very interesting thing in life and especially mdma and lsd combined with great friends and great locations have made great experiences for me and I would lie to myself if I said I'm willing to never do them again...

#24 partiedtoohard

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 12:49 PM

You got lucky, nothing more. I got it from a marijuana brownie and I've had it for a year. I've been doing as much as I can to keep my mind off it and it's only hitting me harder. You only got a mild form of DP and lucked out.


Really dude? Shut the hell up. 

Every post so far that I have seen you make has been negative. If you SERIOUSLY think that nothing will help, and you are doomed, then stay the hell off this forum, or at least off the recovery section. 
People come here to feel hope and share happiness with people who have recovered, the last damn thing they want to see is your BS about "you lucked out" "there is no cure" etc. and your other negative posts. 

And to strengthen MSM's comments, his help has been fantastic with my recovery, and I am not episodic. I have talked with him extensively, and the last few days have been the best since my ordeal a little over a year and a month ago.

So no, he didn't get lucky, he worked hard at it, which I am too. This form consists of hundreds of pages of people who recovered. The evidence is there. Take your negativity elsewhere. 






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