I am fully recovered now! So can you!
TLDR: In less than 1 month the combination of Lamotrigine (antiepileptic) and Zoloft (SSRI) cured my DPDR, anxiety and depression, from which I have suffered over the year.
Sharing my story on forums helped me a lot to accept and move on despite my mental state. During the peak of my HPPD/DPDR I've been constantly searching for help within message boards and often stumbled upon the stories just like my own: same drugs, same symptoms and same no improvement despite treatment. All the threads I have found were very old (up to 10 years) and no longer active. Although the first pages were full of lively discussion, further scrolling down led to disappointment: the latest reply was usually dated 5 or more years ago, the authors' profiles were inactive and there was no way to reach out to any of them. All I wanted was to know was if the person got better, al least a little bit, and what helped him to improve/recover. Understanding the fact that I will never know the outcome of a story made me anxious to death. While both HPPD and DPDR disorders remained obscure and poorly studied, the real people's experiences were the only reliable source of information and support for me. Unfortunately, I kept finding abandoned threads over and over, and it only worsened my depression.
I don't want this thread to be one of those neglected ones. I post my recovery story here with a great hope that one day it may become a support point for those who got in the same trouble with drugs, who also suffers from DP/DR, HPPD and/or any other comorbid disorder.
Here is my email: [email protected]
Feel free to contact me if you need support or you want to share your own story. I am always glad to help.
I got HPPD and DPDR after taking 1/4 a tab of NBOMe (dosage unknown) during the New Year celebration in 2017. By that time I was pretty experienced in other drugs, but psychedelics were a new thing to me. That winter was the hardest time for me. I've spent a few months using amphetamines occasionally to cope with the projects and finals at the university. At the same time I was going through a protracted and painful relationship breakup with my partner, that ended up destroying me emotionally. Back then I smoked tons of weed and cigarettes, had no normal sleep regimen and was malnourished. That New Year Eve wasn't even a normal celebration, I was alone with my friend in the empty dorm room, all our friends have gone home for celebration. But we stayed because of failing the exam. We both were tired and wanted to unwind somehow. And a strange yellow tab was all we had. Firstly, I refused to take it, saying that it's not the right thing to simply "unwind", but then my friend ensured me it will be fun. Probably because of being very depressed, I've simply given up on everything I knew about psychs and,in particular, about the aftermath of being reckless with them. I ended up taking ¼ of a tab of a tab and then had 8 hours of the weirdest experience in my life. My trip was rather bad then good, in the end I felt exhausted and just wanted it to end.
The next day I felt grateful to every living thing thing for waking up sober. I felt ok, even better than before. My state of mind started changing only in 2 weeks after the trip. Everything began with a slight feeling something strange was happening around me but it felt too unclear to define as an onset of mental disorder. With time this "strange feeling" grew bigger and bigger until one day I woke up questioning myself if I was really awake. The same thing happened the next day, and the day after. In a few weeks I began to doubt the reality: it was slipping away from me and I couldn't help it but watch. The symptoms reached their climax in May, 5 months after taking NBOMe. My DPDR now was accompanied by a constant fear of the environment together with a sense of absolute darkness hanging over me (which later was identified as major depression). Living a day after day in fear and sorrow made me desperate with no faith in the future. Later I found myself contemplating my own death as if it could be a way out of this bloody hell. Things got seriously bad, I knew it was dangerous to continue coping by myself, so I had to quit studying temporarily and return to my hometown to get an urgent treatment. My family found me a doctor though they couldn't figure out what was going on. The day when I arrived to my homeplace and met my family after a long time being away, a slight feeling of comfort appeared. The next day I got my first visit to a psychiatrist, I talked to him directly and told the whole thing about my past lifestyle and drugs. He listened to me carefully and diagnosed me with the most common disorder - drug-induced psychosis. Of course I wasn't truly psychotic, but I accepted that diagnosis since it gave me access to strong psychotropic medications that were the only thing that helped. After my doc prescribed pills I suddenly felt protected, like a baby who has been taken care of. Initially I was taking 2 different kinds of typical antipsychotics, that did nothing but caused hormonal imbalance, so I switched to atypical one and began the new treatment course with SSRI and nootropic
Since then I got many different prescriptions, but none of the medications I've tried really helped me. The best 2 things I got from antipsychotics and SSRIs was normal sleep and appetite. As time went I got more and more used to feeling bad to the point I started accepting it as it was my "new normal". The pills did their job well, so eventually my condition was fairly stabilized, enough for me to carry out my daily routine and return to studying at the university. My worst symptoms, DPDR, remained resistant to treatment. Experimenting with different meds had no success. I continued switching from one drug to another without any significant improvements. But in February 2018 things turned upside down in a positive way. I found out that Lamotrigine and SSRI are widely used to treat DPDR, and I could only wonder why I discovered it almost a year after the manifestation of HPPD.
So the day I discovered that new treatment option, I decided to try it out immediately. And that's when things started changing - the first improvements were instant and developed surprisingly fast. L. did something that no other drug has done to me before. Within an hour after taking my first dose (25 mg), a felt a sense of inner comfort and warmness slowly spreading throughout my body. For the first time since the manifestation of HPPD my persistent obsessive thoughts have calmed down, the fear, which have been suffocating me 24/7, and the constant state of being alerted suddenly began to subside. Even derealization that seemed impossible to beat, reduced to some extent on that day. The improvements were so rapid that I no longer doubted: Lamotrigine was exactly that "magic pill" I've been searching for. I still remember the feeling, when I was laying on the floor that night, enjoying the inner harmony taking over the state of fear and anxiety. I fell asleep in peace for the first time in a year.
The next day I added 25 mg of Zoloft to the treatment course and decided to take both meds in the morning. I sticked to the dosing regimen and raised both Lamo and Zoloft by 25 mg each week. It took 4 weeks to get up to therapeutic doses: 50 mg of Zoloft and 100 mg of Lamotrigine. The medical combo worked perfectly well, I could feel my DPDR subsiding day by day, until during the 4/5th week I noticed it disappeared completely along with anxiety and depression. Since then none of the symptoms have returned. My visuals also faded greatly (halos and trails disappeared completely) after healing from the main symptoms, up to the point they stopped bothering me at all! Back then I felt the happiest person ever - I could feel love, joy, and any emotion possible again. My self returned to me together with all memories. Nothing could trigger me now, my past triggers simply disappeared as such. Finally going to the supermarket wasn't a stress for me, using public transport and the subway felt comfortable again. I could enjoy walking around my city as its views no longer looked unfamiliar.
Lamotrigine in a combination with SSRIs remains the only treatment for DPDR that proved its efficacy in a number of double-blind randomized studies, and is considered the first-line treatment for this disorder. In addition, you can find people's personal stories among the forums, describing successful treatment with L. and Z. Therefore, if you are looking for something to treat your DPDR or HPPD, I highly recommend trying this combination. Don't be scared of the side effects: if you follow the dosage regimen, no dangerous side effects will appear. Discuss it with your doctor, and provide him the necessary information if needed.
Links to researches and studies on PubMed:
Lamotrigine in the immediate treatment of outpatients with depersonalization disorder without psychiatric comorbidity: randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21192145
A placebo-controlled, cross-over trial of lamotrigine in depersonalization disorder: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1268074
Lamotrigine as an add-on treatment for depersonalization disorder: a retrospective study of 32 cases: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16960469
Lamotrigine in the treatment of resistant depersonalization disorder: A case report: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/857f/0a4bbddf525a256ebd3b65d4f0260388648a.pdf
Evidence-based treatment for Depersonalisation-derealisation Disorder (DPRD): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4269982/