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likemusic: Is there life with anhedonia?

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likemusic

Hello. My name is A and up until 2007, I was a happy well adjusted individual (loving, caring and with a huge amount of empathy for others) with a young family, who was very content with life.

 

Due to an situation at work, I became anxious, and this anxiety did not subside. I visited my doctor, who immediately prescribed Citalopram (Citalex) - will hereafter refer to as C). My doctor did not suggest getting off these as soon as possible, instead recommending I stay on them in case I had a relapse (do they recommend cancer drugs to patients in remission). The possible consequences of this course of action were never explained to me.

 

I have been on them pretty much ever since (and when they were working they worked fine), but I have had several attempts to get off them, with no success. I instead became depressed and was put back onto C. My most recent attempt was in mid-December 2016, and initially things appeared to be going OK, in that is I was functioning as would be expected, but without the medication. Unfortunately, my mood deteriorated. I was again signed off sick from work, and despite a further prescription of C (which I have discovered I can now not tolerate - instead it gave me severe headaches and made me confused) I am now totally anhedonic.

 

The question I would like replies to address is whether this state is likely to be permanent, and if so, how do those in a similar sad situation cope with never feeling any pleasure whatsoever. I know I love my family, but there is no "warm fuzzy" feeling inside, just this deadness, whereas before there was love and empathy. What do other forum members feel has been the cause of their depression - life in general (with its ups and downs) or the fact that they have been on an antidepressant for a long time without which, ultimately, their body could not function, i.e. it was the drug itself that led to a depressive state?

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baroquep

Hi Likemusic,

 

Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants (SA).  I am glad that you found the site.  You will find a wealth of information on this site to help you understand how these drugs affect the central nervous system, particularly when taken long-term.  The "deadness" you feel is a common complaint of many on this site and your story really hit home for me.

 

The motivation for me to get off of Effexor was because I was dealing with some of the very issues that you speak of in your post.  I clearly remember sitting in the car one day and started to wonder why it seemed like I couldn't feel love or emotion anymore, it actually felt like I was empty inside, that I no longer had the ability to feel, similar to what you describe as deadness, and unfortunately for me, I wasn't able to put two and two together at the time and continued taking antidepressants.  Fast forward another ten years or so, and I started having difficulty recalling words and a host of other issues.  It was like my brain was slowly deteriorating long before old age was going to settle in.  Finally I decided to start doing research on the effects of antidepressants only to find out that countless other people were experiencing the exact same issues, emotionless, brain fog, word recall, and on and on.  Basically I think the mechanism by which antidepressants work, and this is my simple theory, is to flatten out your emotions so you don't get depressed but unfortunately that comes at a very high cost as it also flattens out the highs ... to me if felt like I had been lobotomized and was going through the motions of life rather than actually living it ... no highs, no real lows but just a general feeling of nothingness ... I could feel anger and frustration though, so not the best way to live life.  I tried to get off of antidepressants a couple of times over the years with horrific results, brain zaps and the full gamut of withdrawal symptoms and quickly ended up back on a full dose of the drug.  Still I had a nagging feeling that I needed to get off of this drug, found this site and have not looked back.  As I have reduced lower and lower, my emotions are very slowly starting to bubble to the surface and I am much more engaged in life.  I'm actually starting to regain my ability to enjoy things like reading, music and socializing which I used to enjoy immensely but after starting antidepressants I noticed that things that once gave me pleasure no longer had much appeal.  It feels like I was robbed of my very nature and for that I am saddened and angry that I ever started taking this medication and wish I could turn back time.  Sorry for the long-winded story, your thread really resonated with me and wanted to give you a little hope that things will likely get better for you as well, unfortunately it just takes time.  

 

Now to get to your situation ... often when a person discontinues an antidepressant and then stops them for a period of time, when they try to reintroduce the drug they are no longer able to tolerate it due to what is known as kindling.  Kindling is another name for hypersensitive reactions to neurologically active substances.  And because your receptors may have adjusted somewhat (upregulated) during the time you were off the drug,  your central nervous system has become highly sensitized and the reason you were no longer able to tolerate citalopram.  I've included a link below on limbic kindling below:

 

Limbic Kindling - Hardwiring the Brain for Hypersensitivity 

 

It is now generally accepted that antidepressants can cause physical dependence and a withdrawal syndrome, so that stopping antidepressants can commonly lead to withdrawal problems, that these problems may be severe in some instances but are generally less severe, and that these problems may last for months but are more often over within weeks. This piece outlines what is known about states of persisting difficulty and what can be done to remedy them.  The characteristic symptoms include “depression”, depersonalisation, agitation/akathisia, a generally labile state and stress intolerance.

 

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome - How long does it last?

 

I am going to attach a couple of links to discussions on anhedonia and emotional numbness that might help explain and how other members have coped.

 

Anhedonia, Apathy, Demotivation, Emotional Numbness

Emotional Numbness on and off Drugs

 

It sounds like you have been on and off Citalopram many times over the years and wonder if you would complete your withdrawal history signature so that we have more information on your particular situation.  You can find the instructions below:

 

Instructions:  Withdrawal History Signature

 

Please feel free to connect with other members by posting in their introduction topic, Surviving Antidepressants has a supportive community, know what you are going through and are here to help.  If you have any questions, or need clarification please post back here in your introduction topic and one of the moderators will get back to you.

Edited by baroquep

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AntiAntiPsychotic

^^^ good stuff above, but I don't know if the feeling (if it even is a "feeling" since we can't really feel) goes away.

 

i been flat for awhile now too. Music, movies, people .... none of it gives me any emotion anymore. I can't even cry. Physically cannot cry. It's messed up. With all the research I've done I haven't cone across any cure or solution. I didn't taper meds down so it might be worse than those who did. But in my opinion it's all the same. We all get screwed. Good luck -_-

 

Edited by ChessieCat
removed obscenity

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likemusic

Hello to you both. Thanks for responding so quickly.

 

So is this then? I'll never enjoy the feeling of the sun on my face, or being clean (never mind love for my family, and empathy for others. If so, what is the point in carrying on (even if it causes others such emotional suffering as I can't imagine). My friend came up with what I consider to be a brilliant analogy - for those not on these poisons, the glass is half full or half empty, but what about if there is no glass (anhedonia)?

 

AAP. You mentioned a few things I'd like a bit more info on, although by the sounds of it you have been very unlucky.

 

Firstly your history with these poisons seems to be quite short. I take it that's correct?

 

Second, you mention you didn't taper down, but as you were in hospital, surely this was done for you? If you don't mind, would you broadly share why you ended up in the situation that you were in by Oct 2016.

 

Did your mood change whilst you were in hospital, i.e. you became "normal", and could still experience pleasure, or was the place you are currently in already there at the time of your discharge?

 

As to now, are you working and how do you cope with feeling nothing if you are?

 

And finally, are you on anything now. It might be that, regrettably, and as much as I don't countenance or recommend this, you might need to find an AD / AS that works, and then stay on it for the rest of your life - the so called maintenance dose.

 

My situation is a little different, in that I had been on C for almost a decade and when I was on it I was stable and generally happy / content, with a reasonably normal range of emotions (although curiously, I could never cry either, although things did make me sad, but then again, most people rarely cry, but I still had bags of empathy), . Problems only emerged when, severl times, I tried to get off it, but going back on C eventually made my mood return as it had before, as would my concentration, and sharpness, etc. It's this last time that is the problem. The brain fog has only occurred since discontinuing the drug. So Baroquep, perhaps not quite the same as yourself. I'll see what my doctor can give me about my withdrawal history (I can't remember).

 

I too have a theory about how these toxins work, and I would happily share it with anyone who has the interest to read it. It fits many holes (but not that where some souls get worse on these things, that I can't account for), but sadly it does not make positive reading. Let me know?

 

Wishing each and every one of you the best of luck, with love (from my empty heart).

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dj2010
3 minutes ago, likemusic said:

Hello to you both. Thanks for responding so quickly.

 

So is this then? I'll never enjoy the feeling of the sun on my face, or being clean (never mind love for my family, and empathy for others. If so, what is the point in carrying on (even if it causes others such emotional suffering as I can't imagine). My friend came up with what I consider to be a brilliant analogy - for those not on these poisons, the glass is half full or half empty, but what about if there is no glass (anhedonia)?

 

AAP. You mentioned a few things I'd like a bit more info on, although by the sounds of it you have been very unlucky.

 

Firstly your history with these poisons seems to be quite short. I take it that's correct?

 

Second, you mention you didn't taper down, but as you were in hospital, surely this was done for you? If you don't mind, would you broadly share why you ended up in the situation that you were in by Oct 2016.

 

Did your mood change whilst you were in hospital, i.e. you became "normal", and could still experience pleasure, or was the place you are currently in already there at the time of your discharge?

 

As to now, are you working and how do you cope with feeling nothing if you are?

 

And finally, are you on anything now. It might be that, regrettably, and as much as I don't countenance or recommend this, you might need to find an AD / AS that works, and then stay on it for the rest of your life - the so called maintenance dose.

 

My situation is a little different, in that I had been on C for almost a decade and when I was on it I was stable and generally happy / content, with a reasonably normal range of emotions (although curiously, I could never cry either, although things did make me sad, but then again, most people rarely cry, but I still had bags of empathy), . Problems only emerged when, severl times, I tried to get off it, but going back on C eventually made my mood return as it had before, as would my concentration, and sharpness, etc. It's this last time that is the problem. The brain fog has only occurred since discontinuing the drug. So Baroquep, perhaps not quite the same as yourself. I'll see what my doctor can give me about my withdrawal history (I can't remember).

 

I too have a theory about how these toxins work, and I would happily share it with anyone who has the interest to read it. It fits many holes (but not that where some souls get worse on these things, that I can't account for), but sadly it does not make positive reading. Let me know?

 

Wishing each and every one of you the best of luck, with love (from my empty heart).

dont be discouraged by negative posts, ive been off medication almost 6 months and the last few months I am starting to enjoy things again and most of my old emotions have come back, stay positive and keep strong

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AntiAntiPsychotic
6 hours ago, likemusic said:

Hello to you both. Thanks for responding so quickly.

 

So is this then? I'll never enjoy the feeling of the sun on my face, or being clean (never mind love for my family, and empathy for others. If so, what is the point in carrying on (even if it causes others such emotional suffering as I can't imagine). My friend came up with what I consider to be a brilliant analogy - for those not on these poisons, the glass is half full or half empty, but what about if there is no glass (anhedonia)?

 

AAP. You mentioned a few things I'd like a bit more info on, although by the sounds of it you have been very unlucky.

 

Firstly your history with these poisons seems to be quite short. I take it that's correct?

 

Second, you mention you didn't taper down, but as you were in hospital, surely this was done for you? If you don't mind, would you broadly share why you ended up in the situation that you were in by Oct 2016.

 

Did your mood change whilst you were in hospital, i.e. you became "normal", and could still experience pleasure, or was the place you are currently in already there at the time of your discharge?

 

As to now, are you working and how do you cope with feeling nothing if you are?

 

And finally, are you on anything now. It might be that, regrettably, and as much as I don't countenance or recommend this, you might need to find an AD / AS that works, and then stay on it for the rest of your life - the so called maintenance dose.

 

My situation is a little different, in that I had been on C for almost a decade and when I was on it I was stable and generally happy / content, with a reasonably normal range of emotions (although curiously, I could never cry either, although things did make me sad, but then again, most people rarely cry, but I still had bags of empathy), . Problems only emerged when, severl times, I tried to get off it, but going back on C eventually made my mood return as it had before, as would my concentration, and sharpness, etc. It's this last time that is the problem. The brain fog has only occurred since discontinuing the drug. So Baroquep, perhaps not quite the same as yourself. I'll see what my doctor can give me about my withdrawal history (I can't remember).

 

I too have a theory about how these toxins work, and I would happily share it with anyone who has the interest to read it. It fits many holes (but not that where some souls get worse on these things, that I can't account for), but sadly it does not make positive reading. Let me know?

 

Wishing each and every one of you the best of luck, with love (from my empty heart).

Yeah it's the discontinuing that gets us all. It's like the drug attaches to your brain, rewires it, and so it adapts to the point that when you stop, it's like the brain can't define what's going on. doctors won't tell you that though. they'll just claim your psychotic & give you different pills. it's a terrible cycle

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likemusic

Hello. One for the moderators perhaps, but any reassurance would help.

 

Has anyone ever written about their AD stopping working, and switching didn't help either and if so, what was the outcome?

 

I ask as I no longer responding to my AD.

 

Although I have posted an introduction, it might be easier to repeat my history here for reference.

 

Up to the age of 41, I was a totally normal human being in every regard, and certainly never depressed beyond life's norm.

 

In 2007, a specific situation at work caused me to develop anxiety and I was put on Citalopram 20mg. After 11 weeks, the drug finally became effective, and I returned to a "normal" existence with no difficulty.

 

In 2012, for a reason still not clear to me, I stopped taking the drug. After about 3 months, my brain understandably crashed. I became extremely anxious, anhedonic, non-functioning, with many of the symptoms described by Pug in another forum, pacing for up to 23 hours a day as my head felt so weird. I clearly recall that, at the time, and although even then I knew it was the drug (or lack of it), I still believed it was somehow my fault. I was hospitalised and put back on Citalopram, but at 40mg (the updosing referred to in another forum). After 17 1/2 weeks the drug eventually became effective again, and I again returned to a "normal" existence (went back to work, etc). However, looking back at things, I can now see that such a high dosage subtly changed my personality, but I had the normal range of emotions. Over time, I became happier and happier (although eventually my sleep started to become disturbed).

 

In about October 2016, as I had been "stable" for long enough I went to see my doctor with a view to coming off the drug. She did not see a problem, and put me on a brief taper (about 10 weeks). Things seemed to be OK. I discontinued the drug by mid-December 2016, with no difficulty, and continued life as normal until June 2017, when I crashed for a second time, because the taper was far too fast.

 

I was eventualy hospitalised for a second time in late October 2017, and put on Venlaxafine, which was increased to 250mg daily. That did not do anything after 12 weeks, and I could not tolerated the "skin-crawling" side effect, so I returned to Citalopram 40 mg. However after a further 12 weeks there was still no improvement. That was 2 weeks ago, when I stopped completely. The only change I have noticed since then is that I no longer have a headache.

 

So here I am, totally anhedonic (and I mean totally), and without any real emotions, because of what the drug has done to me. I have absolutely no appetite and sleep is difficult and sporadic. I have this constant physical sensation that part of my brain has stopped working. I do not often experience the brain "zaps" that I have read about, but when I do, it is more like a dull electrical tingling sensation. I have sensory disturbances, particularly to my vision. I can't watch TV, listen to music (it all seems flat) or read.

 

My question is this. Has anyone else experienced anything remotely similar, and if so what was the outcome? Have any of the moderators read about a member posting something similar?

 

I have read that ADs can become ineffective over time, particularly when the original reason for prescription was not depression but rather anxiety or panic attacks. One case I read about involved a man whose AD  eventually became ineffective, and he did not respond to up-dosing, or ECT either. The only option his doctor could think of was discontinuing the medication and hoping that time would allow the poor man's brain to adjust, heal and recover. I could not find a follow up though.

 

As I am no longer on the drug, I have to believe that, given enough time, my brain will eventually restore itself to homeostasis, and I will eventually recover and become myself again before the drug, as happened to Pug, as opposed to the changes wrought by the drug being so extreme that I can never recover. If I will recover, then at least I have hope to endure for however long ti takes for that to happen.

 

The though of so empty and soulless an existence without chance of recovery is too terrible to contemplate.

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bhasski
2 hours ago, likemusic said:

My question is this. Has anyone else experienced anything remotely similar, and if so what was the outcome? 

 

I am facing similar issues with physical side too.

Not me , but there are many here who have had the same experience.

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nicolantana

I'm experiencing just as you described. Have a look through my thread

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likemusic

Hi Nicolantana,

 

I too am sorry that you r GP properly messed you up. i hope things are continuing to improve with you.

 

Please don't take offence, but I'm not sure however that we are in the same place. From your posts, it seem that at least you seem to be able experience some emotion from time to time. Please correct me if I am wrong.

 

I was on my "poison" for a much longer time than you, and since mid-June 2017 have not experienced any pleasure in anything whatsoever, and by this I mean, the sun on my face, or a "refreshing" breeze. I can't smile, laugh or feel sad. Nothing seems to have an effect like it should and I remember it did. Also, I am completely non-emotional. God forbid, but one of my kids could die tomorrow, and I would feel nothing. My appetite is completely non-existent, and I have to pretty much force myself to eat food that I do not "want", nor am able to enjoy.

 

It's a truly completely unholy, un-natural and inhumane state to be in. Attempts at reintroduction failed as it seems the drugs that i tried were no longer effective, so I am in this hellhole of a state until things improve. As I have only been completely off everything for 4 weeks, it would seem that I am in the very early stages of what I expect to be a very long and tortuous recovery. The only positive I can thing of currently is that since, coming off completely, I have been able to sleep better - between 4 and five hours some nights which hopefully is a very good thing, s it will give my brain the best opportunity to heal, I say sleep. but it doesn't feel "natural" as I do not feel "sleepy" beforehand nor rested when I wake. It just is, and the only indication I have that I must have slept is that time has passed.

 

It currently physically feels like part of my brain has died. This is from when I wake to when I sleep every day currently. All I want to do currently is pace constantly as my head feels so f***ing odd all the time. I have had other sensations in my head which might be described as brain zaps, and my brain being on fire about June/July last year when i was trying re-introduction, as well as other effects including severe vertigo. It's so hard to describe. And this has been for a year already and I have no idea how long it will persist. The anhedonia is definitely the worst thing. It's like the logical part of my brain is shouting "I am NOT depressed" yet the emotional part is saying "bad luck - the poison you were on has completely f***ed me, and it will take me a long time to return to how I should be". I get very frustrated. I know that I should feel and hate the fact that I can't. I am also logically scared stiff all of the time (I can't be properly scared as that is an emotion I cannot feel currently). Wish me luck. Let's keep in touch with good news if there is any.

 

I'll try and post to keep things updated.

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bhasski
1 hour ago, likemusic said:

It's so hard to describe. 

 

Yes it is bcoz there is no name defined to the symptoms that we suffer.

And I feel sorry for each of us who suffer.

 

1 hour ago, likemusic said:

The anhedonia is definitely the worst thing

 

I feel it is the longest of my wdl  symptoms  to show any improvement yet. But I am able to sit atleast in home and has appetite on 50-60% scale.

 

Thus, I can say using me and others here that your symptoms will subside by time. Keep trying and have a hope maintained ( I need to add 'maintain' as I still feel wavy when some big event occurs.)

 

And yes, please  keep us posted. 

If sth helps you with anhedonia.. Pls do mention here so that it can help us.

 

Bhasski

 

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likemusic

I'll do my best bhasski.

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bhasski

Also @rupa  has mentioned a small recipe which I think you should try. Its on her thread very recent.

It can be of help.

 

 

 

 

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