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  1. Many people experience overpowering or disturbing emotions while tapering and as part of withdrawal syndrome. Many of the symptoms of withdrawal syndrome arise from autonomic nervous system dysfunction. The distressed nervous system itself can generate intense uncomfortable feelings -- see Neuro emotions The best way to treat this is to help your nervous system to repair itself, to return to its "factory-installed" state. Recovery from withdrawal syndrome is gradual, inconsistent, and can take a long time. In the meantime, you can help your nervous system heal by using non-drug techniques to lessen your anxiety about your condition, deal with long-standing emotional issues, and cope with symptoms. You may also get anxious or depressed about having odd symptoms because you have beliefs that add to your distress, such as a feeling of helplessness or being a failure. Or, you may feel strong emotions as the drugs no longer mask underlying emotional pain. Read these non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms for ideas that may aid your recovery. Whether they are "neuro-emotions" caused by neurological upset, distress arising from your situation, or a natural disposition towards worrying, anxiety, pessimism, or self-sabotage, learning techniques to manage them will benefit you throughout your life. __________________________________________________ WITHDRAWAL-RELATED EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization Are We There Yet? How Long is Withdrawal Going to Take? "Is it always going to be like this?" The importance of recognizing you're feeling good Creating a new self after withdrawal What does healing from withdrawal syndrome feel like? Withdrawal dialogues & encouragement _______________________________________ UNUSUAL AND OVERPOWERING EMOTIONS Neuro-emotion Deep emotional pain and crying spells, spontaneous weeping Shame, guilt, regret, and self-criticism Coping with irritation, anger, and rage Sudden fear, terror, panic, or anxiety from withdrawal Ways to cope with daily anxiety Rebuilding self-confidence, accepting anxiety Dealing With Emotional Spirals Techniques for Managing an Adverse Drug Reaction or Cold Turkey Withdrawal Withdrawal causing intrusive or repetitive thoughts, rumination, and increased panic? Health anxiety, hypochondria, and obsession with symptoms Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD: Repetitive, intrusive thoughts, compulsive behaviors For those who are feeling desperate or suicidal __________________________________________________ MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS Easing your way into meditation for a stressed-out nervous system Mindfulness and Acceptance Good links for anxiety/worry Inhabiting our bodies in meditation http://wp.me/p5nnb-aSX Meditation can heal the brain which can heal the mind and body Mindfulness, Meditation, and Prayer after Brain Injury Pranayama Breathing for Anxiety and Depression __________________________________________________ FORGIVING YOURSELF Blaming yourself for mistakes? Try this. Shame, guilt, and self-criticism __________________________________________________ HELP YOURSELF BY HELPING OTHERS The Magic of Helping Others __________________________________________________ PSYCHOTHERAPEUTIC TECHNIQUES Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for anxiety, depression, or withdrawal symptoms Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Radical Acceptance The Dr. Claire Weekes method of recovering from a sensitized nervous system Relaxation exercises, guided meditations, calming videos, sleep hypnosis "Change the channel" -- dealing with cognitive symptoms Behavioral Activation Therapy: Getting out and doing things helps depression "Forest bathing" reduces cortisol, aids mood, immune system EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Neuroplasticity and limbic retraining Reframe stress to become more resilient Art Therapy Journaling / Journalling / Writing Therapy / Therapeutic Writing Music for self-care: calms hyperalertness, anxiety, aids relaxation and sleep Music Therapy / Music for Wellness and Healing
  2. ADMIN NOTE If you abruptly quit your drug without tapering (cold turkey), see I thought I'd write something up for the CT/ADR crew, as those who are tapering are often able to manage their symptoms well through a gradual hyperbolic taper. For those of us cast out to sea, so to speak, and with no choice but to endure suffering, I think the only thing we have control over is our attitudes and our relationship to what we're experiencing. This means that though we have no choice over what we experience, we have the power to decide whether we suffer it. I may only be 30 days into my ADR experience, but I think given the intensity of my symptoms I've done remarkably well. Part of the reason that's the case is that I'm already well versed at managing suffering by virtue of struggling with CPTSD. One of the most helpful resources I found in my trauma recovery has been Pete Walker's 13 Steps for Flashback Management. I feel Pete's strategies could similarly be helpful for those suffering symptoms from Withdrawal/ADR. CPTSD flashbacks often resemble Withdrawal/ADR symptoms in their overwhelming and intense quality, and are similarly difficult to assign meaning to. Pete's steps help people to endure and manage their suffering, and support people to develop a healing attitude towards a complex and often lifelong syndrome. So here I present to you, adapted directly from Pete's steps, Scrountz's 10 Steps for Managing Withdrawal/ADR Symptoms: 1. Say to yourself: "I am experiencing a symptom." Its important when symptoms arise to name them what they are. When in a wave it is easy to lose perspective and believe that what we are experiencing is a sign that we are going crazy, mentally ill, that our brains are broken, or that we are dying. Symptoms are not characterological defects, nor are they signs of a deeper problem. Symptoms are time limited experiences that will gradually resolve. When you name what you are experience as a symptom, you are reinforcing what is real. 2. Remind yourself: "I would not be feeling this way if it was not for the medication." Withdrawal/ADR symptoms are compelling and have a tendency to pull us in to a unique physiological reality characterized by interminable suffering. Neuro-emotions, ruminating thoughts, and unrelenting physical ailments feel so real it is sometimes hard to believe that we are experiencing is drug induced. Falling into this pit can send us into a spiral of googling symptoms, experimenting with remedies and endlessly theorizing about our condition. Reminding ourselves that it is the medication (or for withdrawal, its absence) that is causing this experience grounds us in the appropriate context for recovery. When we remind ourselves it is the medication, we open the door to taking the right action to promote recovery. 3. Own your right and need to have boundaries Remind yourself that you are injured, and have a right to do what is necessary to heal. Respectfully communicate to others when you are distressed/overwhelmed/debilitated and need space or freedom from responsibilities that may burden your already over-sensitized nervous system. Own your right to take care of yourself and put your wellness first. Remove or reduce distressing factors in your environment and focus on finding a space for you that is safe and conducive to healing. Remember you are free to leave overstimulating situations and to protect yourself from the dismissive behaviour of others. 4. Seek reassurance When symptoms arise, they can be incredibly distressing and debilitating. Many people in withdrawal feel as though their lives are ruined and they may never feel better again. Seek reassurance from loved ones and compassionate others to remind you that you will heal in time. Call your parents, talk to your spouse, connect with your counsellor, or phone a friend. Journal in your introductory topic or reach out to other members of this forum. Find whoever you can to reassure you things will get better. Often just hearing that from someone else is enough to provide some strength to keep going. 5. Deconstruct eternity thinking Withdrawal/ADR symptoms are incredibly compelling. Often when a wave of symptoms arises, one feels they will always feel this way forever. I know for me, when a wave of depression hits, I have a hard time believing it won’t last forever. The reality is that symptoms change over time. Recovery follows an unpredictable course, yet no feeling is final. Waves will always end eventually. Remind yourself that symptoms are not forever, and you will feel differently eventually. Symptom journals can be incredibly helpful in this regard, as when eternity thinking sets in, you can revisit past journals to see how your experience has changed over time. 6. Remind yourself of the resources you have While time is the only factor that truly resolves Withdrawal/ADR symptoms, there are numerous resources available to help with coping and reducing symptom severity. When distressing symptoms arise, remind yourself of the resources you have to cope. It can be helpful to make a list of the things you find helpful in managing symptoms (for me it's talking with loved ones, journaling, Qigong, Acknowledge/Accept/Float, CBT exercises). In withdrawal/ADR, you are out of control but you are not powerless. There are ways to increase comfort and help manage your experience. 7. Ease back into your body (this is copied verbatim from Pete’s flashback management as it is just as applicable to us) Gently ask your body to relax: Feel each of your major muscle groups and softly encourage them to relax. (Tight muscles send unnecessary danger signals to the brain.) Breathe deeply and slowly. (Holding the breath also signals danger). Slow down. (Rushing presses the psyche's panic button.) Find a safe place to unwind and soothe yourself. Wrap yourself in a blanket, hold a stuffed animal, lie down in a bath, take a nap Feel the fear in your body without reacting to it. Fear is just an energy in your body that cannot hurt you if you do not run from it or react self-destructively to it. 8. Resist drasticizing and catastrophizing Withdrawal/ADR symptoms throw us into a state of high distress, where it is easy to begin catastrophizing (believing the world is ending) and drasticizing (believing that something needs an immediate and severe response). It’s important to forcefully resist this, as this kind of thinking only serves to increase distress and reinforce the notion that recovery is not possible. Use whatever strength you can to push back against this thinking, reminding yourself that symptoms are not life threatening, and that this is not forever. CBT techniques that challenge catastrophic thinking are particularly helpful in managing this dimension of symptoms. 9. Allow yourself to grieve Withdrawal/ADR can be a debilitating, life altering experience that has robbed some of us years of wellness and prosperity. For many the loss of a sense of safety and trust in the medical system leaves one feeling existentially exposed. The symptoms of withdrawal/ADR can impact our relationships, sense of self and life direction. It is important to leave space to express the healthy feelings that come up as a result of this demoralizing, often traumatic experience. Pain, sadness, anger, despair and anguish all have a place in the recovery process. Give yourself permission to express whatever feelings are present in relation to the inevitable loss that withdrawal. 10. Be patient with a slow recovery process I was sobered when I read on this site that recovery takes longer than you’d like. The truth of iatrogenic injury is that there is no clear timeline for anyone’s recovery process. Everyone experiences a unique healing trajectory, with some going very slowly and others experiencing more rapid progress. Whatever the pace, it is important to be patient. You simply cannot rush your healing. Most of us will be at this for months or years. Raging against this fact only engenders needless suffering. Though in many ways the hardest step, this is the most important, and feeds back positively into the other steps. If you can take things one day at a time, you’re more likely to successfully manage your symptoms as they arise. If you’re fixated on getting well NOW, you’re less likely to do what's actually helpful (see steps 1-9). This list is far from exhaustive. I’d love to hear from the collective wisdom of this forum about other necessary “steps” in coping with hard symptoms.
  3. Metacognitive training is one of the newer way of treating mental illnesses or anxiety disorders. Made by Adrian wells it’s based on neuroscience and mindfulness. It’s a technique that has effect on ssri withdrawal, GAD, OCD and potentially depersonalization and Derealization. the technique is used by many therapist but only certain places in the mental health system and in specific countries. Basically it deactivates the fight or flight mode and makes me think rationally more often. I experience this more often meta cognitive therapy works also great with ATT (Attention training technique). Recommend books: pia callesen - think less feel more videos of att attention training technique 12 minutes as search term. Start with beginner. disclaimer: deeper explanation follows soon
  4. ADMIN NOTE This essay first appeared in Dan998's success story. Also see: Tips to help sleep: so many of us have that awful withdrawal insomnia What is the sleep cycle? Melatonin for sleep Supplements for sleep * Sleep and withdrawal by Dan998 I thought it would be a good idea to write an article about sleep. Everyone’s symptoms and experiences will be different, but the vast majority of our members suffer terribly from issues surrounding sleep. For me, sleep was probably my biggest struggle. Right from the beginning I had a hard time sleeping and it’s probably only in the last year or two that it has returned to what I would call normal. Sleeplessness closely followed my pattern of windows and waves. Arriving a few days before and improving a few days afterwards. I’m convinced that these two things are closely linked to each other. During the worst of withdrawal I might have been lucky to get an hour of sleep per night. This sometimes went on for months and undoubtedly contributed to the mental confusion and cognitive incapacity that I have previously described. The cortisol mornings were particularly brutal. Fear, dread and panic rising from my core and quickly filling every part of my body as soon as I woke up. Getting a good night's sleep is vital for all humans, not just those in withdrawal. I still occasionally get nights where my sleep is interrupted and I always feel groggy and slow throughout the following day. Thankfully, like everything else on the withdrawal rollercoaster your ability to sleep will improve with the passage of time. Dosage timing - Some psychotropic drugs are activating, some have a sedative effect. You can use this to your advantage. Citalopram used to make me feel slightly drowsy, so I took my dose at night to help me sleep. Try to stay away from sleep meds if you can as most of them are highly addictive and you’ll quickly build up a tolerance to them. Take a nap - Sleep can often be elusive. Get it whenever you can. If you feel tired in the afternoon, then by all means take a nap. Every minute of sleep is valuable. It doesn’t have to be reserved for bedtime. Blue light - Blue light interferes with our natural circadian rhythms. In nature, blue light is only available during the daytime. The blue light emitted by T.Vs, computers and smartphones disrupts these natural rhythms and signals to our brains that we should be awake. Make use of the blue (night) light filters available on most computers and phones. If you’re watching TV, the movie setting often has a warmer colour temperature. I personally wouldn’t go online after about 10pm as I found it far too activating. Instead, I’d watch wildlife documentaries or sports as these provided much gentler viewing. Bedtime stories - Ok, I didn’t have actual bedtime stories. I would listen to talk radio. A soothing voice, quietly whispering in the background would help me drift off. I used to listen to BBC Radio 5 as it didn’t have any annoying adverts. Nowadays, you’ll probably find all sorts of podcasts, audiobooks and background noises to listen to. Make sure it’s nothing too stimulating. Boring is best. Darkness - I found blocking out the light really helped my sleep. The darker the better. I messed about with blackout curtains, but some light always got past, and it only took the tiniest sliver to wake me up. In the end I solved this problem by screwing a sheet of ply board over the window, this also helped block out most of the street noise too. Secret sleep - Sometimes you don’t realise you have been asleep. It seems that you’ve been laying there awake for hours and hours. In fact, there are many different levels of sleep. Just because you didn’t have any dreams, doesn’t mean you haven’t been asleep. So, even if you're not tired, you should go to bed at the same time every night. Lay down, make yourself comfortable and close your eyes. You'll be giving your body a rest and you might even grab an hour or two without even realising. I hope these hints and tips are of some benefit to those of you who are struggling with sleep. Things do get better as time goes on. Hang in there. Better days, and nights, are ahead of you. *
  5. ADMIN NOTE Also see: Ways to cope with daily anxiety Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms * This topic is based on an article in the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/26/smarter-living/the-difference-between-worry-stress-and-anxiety.html The online article is free of charge but may require the reader to sign in/create an account to gain access. I appreciate how the information is presented in a clear and simple way, with practical tips for non-drug coping strategies. The subject matter seems relevant to SA members (of course we should still keep in mind that our brains and nervous systems are sensitized/destabilized, and we may have paradoxical/unexpected reactions). An edited version of the article appears below. Omitted sections are marked in the text with ( . . . . ) The Difference Between Worry, Stress and Anxiety By Emma Pattee Feb. 26, 2020 ( . . . . ) What is worry? Worry is what happens when your mind dwells on negative thoughts, uncertain outcomes or things that could go wrong. “Worry tends to be repetitive, obsessive thoughts,” said Melanie Greenberg, a clinical psychologist in Mill Valley, Calif., and the author of “The Stress-Proof Brain” (2017). “It’s the cognitive component of anxiety.” Simply put, worry happens only in your mind, not in your body. ( . . . . ) Three things to help your worries: - Give yourself a worry “budget,” an amount of time in which you allow yourself to worry about a problem. When that time is up (start with 20 minutes), consciously redirect your thoughts. - When you notice that you’re worried about something, push yourself to come up with a next step or to take action. - Write your worries down. Research has shown that just eight to 10 minutes of writing can help calm obsessive thoughts. ( . . . . ) What is stress? Stress is a physiological response connected to an external event. In order for the cycle of stress to begin, there must be a stressor. This is usually some kind of external circumstance, like a work deadline or a scary medical test. “Stress is defined as a reaction to environmental changes or forces that exceed the individual’s resources,” Dr. Greenberg said. Three things to help your stress - Get exercise. This is a way for your body to recover from the increase of adrenaline and cortisol. - Get clear on what you can and can’t control. Then focus your energy on what you can control and accept what you can’t. - Don’t compare your stress with anyone else’s stress. Different people respond differently to stressful situations. ( . . . . ) What is anxiety? If stress and worry are the symptoms, anxiety is the culmination. Anxiety has a cognitive element (worry) and a physiological response (stress), which means that we experience anxiety in both our mind and our body. “In some ways,” Dr. Marques said, “anxiety is what happens when you’re dealing with a lot of worry and a lot of stress.” ( . . . . ) Three things to help your anxiety - Limit your sugar, alcohol and caffeine intake. Because anxiety is physiological, stimulants may have a significant impact. - Check in with your toes. How do they feel? Wiggle them. This kind of refocusing can calm you and break the anxiety loop. - When you’re in the middle of an anxiety episode, talking or thinking about it will not help you. Try to distract yourself with your senses: Listen to music, jump rope for five minutes, or rub a piece of Velcro or velvet. ( . . . . ) Here’s the takeaway: Worry happens in your mind, stress happens in your body, and anxiety happens in your mind and your body. ( . . . . ) The good news ( . . . . ) there are simple (not easy) first steps to help regulate your symptoms: Get enough sleep; eat regular, nutritious meals; and move your body.
  6. Elisabeth1

    Any help from psychologist?

    Hi there, Does anybody get help from a psychiatrist to get through a wave? And if so (or not) what kind of support is helpful for you? I find myself looking for help but PAWS is (still) unknown in The Netherlands. I am not even sure what to ask for but some moral support would be so welcome! Any suggestions??
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