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Apathy, anhedonia, emotional numbness, emotional anesthesia

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Terry4949

How do we live with this severe apathy , the feeling of emptiness so strong that it feels like you are a walking shell , I try and do anything I can to motivate myself but I feel so dead inside no enjoyment no laughter no smile , I tell my family that I love them and in my heart I know I do , but I don’t feel love , nothing just deadness , how can anyone live like this I feel I have no soul , i am 9 months of all meds now but I have never felt like this , how do you survive, is it down to low dopamine , has anyone found anything to relieve this awfull feeling , it is probably worse than the depression and that’s saying something , 

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Newbeginning

Hi Terry,

 

I have it strongly with motivation and less strongly with emotional anesthesia. What helps the most is time, not stressing about it and behaving in ways that help very very slowly rewire the pleasure/motivation centers in the brain. Basically doing things in spite of no emotion/motivation. Gratefulness journaling has helped me too, as it trains my brain to focus on small achievements/improvements/anything that produces even the tiniest sense of achievement/joy/emotion. 

 

Make sure to check the huge topic on anhedonia in this forum too. Very detailed information on all this.

 

This does pass. I promise.

 

Hugs. Be gentle with yourself. We're struggling!

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wantrelief

Apathy is something I struggle with in a major way whenever my nervous system is destabilized.  I don't care about anything.  It isn't so much my feelings about people as doing things.  I have absolutely no motivation or will, it is as if a part of my brain just completely shuts down.  I literally can't think of anything I would like to do which is so not like me.  I could spend all day on the couch if I didn't force myself to do things.  Sometimes I will get restless from not doing anything but then I don't know what to do. It is such an awful feeling, like you aren't alive.  I have a lot of different interests and curiosity normally but all of that just goes away, like a huge part of my soul is gone. :( 

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Staz

Wantrelief,

You describe my state of mind perfectly. I'm over medicated and sedated as well as being on two serotonin boosting drugs that both cause sedation.

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wantrelief

So sorry you are feeling this way too, Staz.  Are you currently tapering?  Hopefully as you decrease, you will start to feel better.

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Staz

Yes I am Wantrelief. I'm trying to get rid of seroquel first. It's no wonder I'm apathetic, get no joy or pleasure or have any sort of motivation being on 4 sedating drugs. The logic for going for seroquel first is it's an antipsychotic  and was only given to me for sleep due to lofepramine causing me insomnia  and the chance of getting TD and other complications is just not worth it especially as it's done nothing bar make me sleep. That was useful during my Lyrica taper this year but comes at too high a price side effect wise.  Lofepramine didn't work but my shrink kept on with seroquel and increased it in the summer from 75mg to 150mg. I've managed to get it back down to 30mg now and plan to be off it come spring.

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wantrelief

It sounds like you've been through a lot, Staz,.....that is great you've been able to reduce Seroquel by so much.  Have you seen any change with apathy as you've gotten lower?  

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Barbarannamated

,I hesitate to comment on this because my history is complex and I'm still on several drugs. I was initially given Zoloft for mild fatigue only, so I really have no baseline of depression or anxiety for comparison. 

Zoloft neuromuscular / movement disorder action led to approximately 30-40 different drugs since 1993. 

 

This apathy and lack of "volition" is unique since tapering Pristiq in 2010-11.  I am not trying to correlate it with any disorder aside from withdrawal.  

 

There seems to be a strong disconnect or loss of signalling between interest / intention to do something and initiating the physical movement necessary (getting out of bed, showering).  It's especially difficult when I'm doing things alone, which is most of the time.  Once I do get out, I'm USUALLY ok on my own.  I don't like to be with just one person because I have nothing to say anymore.  I used to be a good conversationalist, but everything triggers me now. Being with strangers seems a bit easier. It stimulates my curiosity and gets me out of my own head a bit, but there's less jealousy. 

 

 I haven't been able to work for 17 years due to Zoloft and the cascade of damage (55 now). 

 

I'm trying to get moved to Florida where I've rented a place with friends, but the idea of packing (mostly clothes and small items) is completely overwhelming.  I just shut down.  I really need help with this problem because I have to get out of where I'm living.  

 

I don't think it's sedation.  There's something that's not connecting in my mind.  Initiating movement is nearly impossible.  I just lay in bed all day, have zero appetite. There IS alot of long-term severe stress and now my only sibling is dying of lung cancer and my dad is 90 and going downhill fast.  I have no other family.  

 

Sorry this post is so disjointed.  I'm really afraid that I'm going to end up in a care home if I can't find a solution.  

 

 

 

 

 

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wantrelief

Thanks for commenting, B.  I am sorry this horrible symptom has not abated for you since tapering Pristiq as it doesn't sound like you had this problem until that time period?   Are you able to think of things you want to do but then physically can't get yourself to do those things?  I am having trouble even thinking of what I would like to do. I am wondering if your move to Florida will be helpful as you'll be around friends?  Maybe that could be motivating, seeing a better future there for yourself?  I completely understand though - i don't know how I would accomplish such an enormous task in this state of mind.  I do feel like there is something not connecting in my mind too, I keep describing it as if something has been shut down or disconnected in my brain.  I also find it almost impossible to initiate movement. I do make it out of bed because I become restless otherwise and eventually shower at some point in the day but mostly am lying on the couch - I have this need to lie down a lot.  I do force myself out once a day (well, haven't done well with that goal over the last two days but usually) just so I am out in the world a bit.  I am so sorry you have experienced so much stress and now even more with ill family members.  I am really sorry.  I just quit my job/career and am unsure what I'll do next. At the moment, I am too unstable to even think about it but wonder if I'll be able to work again as I keep having problems with the medications I am on when under stress...I just crash.  Not a good combo for work.  But maybe if I could find a low-stress type of position, I just question if there is such a thing in our world anymore. I do hope you can make it to Florida as it sounds potentially like this could be a good move for you, being around friends in what is hopefully a supportive environment.

 

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wantrelief

I wanted to add that I don't know if my problem is related to the medications I am on per se but rather something is very wrong with my nervous system and how it responds to stress.  Perhaps this is from being on medication for so long now or just me or both....I really don't know but have had this pattern occur over and over again and it is quite distressing.  When i am stable, I don't have the motivation problems so much other than some procrastination.  But when I become destabilized it is one of the core symptoms i experience.  

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Staz

Unfortunately not as yet but I don't expect to until I'm off of seroquel as it's so sedating. The one change that has been noticeable is some clarity of thought returning but until I'm off seroquel completely it will be difficult to judge and I'm still on a few other sedating drugs.

 

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Barbarannamated

Wantrelief, 

 

I think there are many factors involved in my case.  

 

I did have loss of motivation on the serotonergic drugs, but since withdrawal, it seems like an entirely different beast, not an increase of the same loss of motivation.  For awhile shorty after my sloppy taper, I felt great!  I remember really tasting and appreciating food for the first time.  Music resonated with me more than ever.  I had more of a sex drive than ever (always minimal, can't blame the drugs).  I actually got in my car one morning (packed as much as possible) and drove away, across the country for about 4 months.  I wasn't fearful and had traveled alone quite a bit.  Now, I can barely drive across town.  Like you, I have a difficult time being upright.

 

At night, I have fleeting thoughts of things to do the next day, but by morning, I'm back in the black hole.  I can't connect with the feelings of pleasure or accomplishment that used to drive the process of doing things.  Horseback riding was a huge part of my life before withdrawal.  I occasionally see a video and feel a desire to get back on the horse, so to speak, but it hasn't happened. 

 

Being very isolated in a bad (empty) marriage has been a big factor and one I can't seem to get myself away from.  He's also been very drugged.  

 

I don't know if I'll get to Florida.  If I go, it would likely be a one-way trip and probably not seeing my dad again (never a good relationship, but still difficult to leave).  

 

I have a very complex drug regimen due to pain from neuromuscular and movement disorders courtesy of Zoloft and 20+ years of serotonergic drugs.  To find a doctor to continue that, if only to avoid withdrawal, is daunting.  A few Rxs can only be written for 30 days, no refills.  (Trying to put current meds in signature).  

 

I do think that a different environment with friends and more things to do would help me. I need to be around people.  I haven't shelved the idea altogether.  

 

 

 

 

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wantrelief

Your post deserves a much more eloquent response than I am able to write but I wanted to say that I am so sorry for everything you have been through - both in the past and what sounds like a really difficult present as well.  It must be so very frustrating not to have experienced any improvement with motivation since your withdrawal - except for that brief period right afterwards.  It sounds like there are a lot of factors/barriers in terms of your decision regarding Florida.   However, the last sentence of your post sounded hopeful, that being in Florida would be helpful to your well-being and maybe to your motivation as well.  I am glad you are thinking about it despite it being a difficult decision.  

 

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Downbutnotout

this is absolutely the worst thing that has happened to me. I have no excitement about anything at all. It’s been 6 months. But I sure can feel sad. And upset. I’m not taking a lot now, but am going through a horrible withdrawal. I’m currently taking 3 effexor beads as of today (after doct pulled me off 75 in 3 weeks) and trazadone 5 mg. My mornings are like a horror movie. I just started the 3 beads today. I just hope I recover from this, and once again have feelings for my family. Which has totally left me. It’s hard to bear. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to get off this poison. 

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Staz

Downbutnotout,

My feelings are exactly the same. No enjoyment, energy, peace of mind or motivation and it's been this way for 19 months now. I can't laugh but just cry with frustration and depression. Waking in the morning is the absolute pits of hell. It's as you describe 'like being in a horror movie'.

I'm on so many drugs I wish I knew which drug to target first. Which is the main culprit. My suspicion is it's the V but I'm going to try and ease off of Seroquel first I think.

Staz

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Downbutnotout

Seroquel was my doctors next suggestion. I canceled my appointment with her Friday. I have to keep telling myself anything she prescribed fir me is not going to help me but make me feel worse. I have no faith in the drugs. What did seoquel do to you? 

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Downbutnotout
On 9/19/2017 at 2:00 PM, brassmonkey said:

Emotional Blunting is one of the major side effects of all of these drugs.  It's how they work.  They don't cure anything,  just make us not care about it any more.  I had Emotional Blunting from the time of my second updose (from 30 to 40mg) all the way through most of my taper.  That would be about 12 years.  It didn't come on all at once but rather crept in over many months.  I could feel the slow slide into total not caring.  It took a while before I associated it with the drugs.  Once I understood that I was able to accept it and work against it.  There wasn't much I could do to improve the feelings but once I started to taper and the lower doses kicked in I began to see some improvements. But it does take a long time.  I've been drug free for five months now and can still experience EB while in waves.

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Downbutnotout

How did you fight against it? This is my main problem right now. 

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Downbutnotout
On 9/6/2017 at 10:52 PM, Jenniferdiana said:

I can't cry...why can't I cry...the last time I cried was last week...i can't force myself to cry..what is this? Has anyone ever experience this?

 

On 9/19/2017 at 9:13 AM, emmabee said:

This makes so much sense. I've been mostly anhedonic for about 5 years.  It's part of what led me to the decision to stop meds. 

Since WD, the anhedonia feels worse, but it's not constant.  I have periods of deep depression, high anxiety, and increasingly, windows of almost normalcy.  Maybe not normalcy, but brief periods ranging from hours to days where I start to feel like "I can..." 

Then back to anhedonic.  

 

I've been trying to read through most of this thread, and pages back someone talked about "paralysis of the will".  Yup.  I relate to that so much.

But looking at it as a rest period for my out of balance body and brain....makes me feel better.  

 

I know this is going to be a long journey, and have to remember that I need to stop fighting it and just let it happen in it's own time.  

 

I didn’t feel this on the meds. This is awful. I’m wondering if updosing on a medication that had stopped working is a smart idea. 

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brassmonkey

You can't fight against it.  This is a drug induced sensation that we have no control over.  Trying to fight it or over come it just burns a lot of energy and causes a huge amount of frustration and anxiety because it doesn't help anything.  The emotions, feelings of joy, happiness, love and excitement as well as creativity, ambition and a whole lot more are being chemically suppressed and for the time being are just not accessible. Acceptance of the situation is the best path to follow.  As you reduce your dose further and your body has a chance to heal your emotions and all will slowly start to come back, but it does take a lot of time.  As I mentioned in the post you quoted, at the time I was off all drugs for five months I was still having some trouble with lack of feelings.  I am now rapidly approaching 10 months off and still am having the occasional bout with it. But things are so much better than they were when I was still tapering.

 

One thing I did learn was to look for and cherish all the little moments of joy.  They actually are popping up all the time, but are very fleeting and easily overlooked.  When you look at a flower, instead of thinking "darn, I can't enjoy this flower", watch for the momentary little flash of joy that that flower brings when you first see it, and acknowledge it when it happens.  Stop and try to see the beauty in things, even if you don't feel it. "Wow, the sun on those clouds is really pretty, one day soon I will feel it again".  Stop and recognize the joy/wonder in the scene, but let your body react in it's own manner.  This exercise will help reestablish the neural pathways and little by little dig out and strengthen the feelings.

 

Like the rest of ADWD it is a tortuously long slow process that can be very frustrating, but in the end is so worth all the effort. 

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Downbutnotout

I am down to 50 mg of trazadone and 5 beads of Effexor. I didn’t do any of this the right way. I’m not even sure if this reinstatement is going to work. 

 

I’ll try your suggestion. Thank you for answering. 

 

When I went off by myself 2 years ago , I got a lot of it back for a while. Too bad I didn’t do it the right way then either.. I thought it was so easy. 

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Barbarannamated

My case is very complex, so PLEASE don't compare it to your own.  

 

During the *taper*, I felt so much better....energized, curious, adventurous, confident.  This awfulness hit me afterward and is still strong, several years later.  I could blame it on the drugs I'm still on, but it came on distinctly after a year long sloppy taper off of Pristiq.  I have no interest, motivation, impulsion and I am triggered by just about everything. Memes on Facebook regularly hit me the wrong way. My point of view has been turned to an entirely new and negative place.

My life IS void of interaction, purpose, and any forward movement, if that makes sense.  The end of my family is closing in and there is no circle of life.  I see my friends' lives moving forward with grandkids, careers, and good marriages (for the most part), while I'm in this holding pattern. 

 

I am neuro-emoting wickedly, especially since the tragic fires and loss of horses in California recently.  The holidays are brutal this year.  

 

I'm at a complete loss and unable to make decisions, which seems to be lack of executive function related to this thread.

 

I've been trying to help people and animals in need through donations.  That definitely feels good and I'm very thankful to be able to help.  I think that one of the worst things about being isolated is the inability to recognize when others are in need of help.  I think I may have an almost pathological need to help and feel needed.  🤔.  I better not give the DSM any new ideas!    

 

I desperately need someone to take over my life for awhile, in person.  I'm paralyzed and need to make changes, but just can't seem to put things into motion.  It's very scary.  

 

I'm still being paid disability by Big Pharma (psychopharm being my last position) and I just hate that.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hellbutrin

I'm looking for some reassurance that these feelings (or lack of feelings) do eventually go away. Does the anhedonia typically go away as the DP/DR fades?

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SunderedStar

Hello Hellbutrin,

 

The Anhedonia is usually the last of the symptoms of DPDR that leave. Recovery from DPDR can take a very long time. You're looking at months of years of recovery.

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Hellbutrin
3 hours ago, SunderedStar said:

Hello Hellbutrin,

 

The Anhedonia is usually the last of the symptoms of DPDR that leave. Recovery from DPDR can take a very long time. You're looking at months of years of recovery.

I'm okay with it taking a while to leave. My main concern is with it becoming permanent, I can't live in this state forever. Thanks for your reassurance. 

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Callie

Sorry for my ignorance, but can someone tell me what DPDR is?

 

Thanks,

 

Callie

 

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Hellbutrin
4 hours ago, Callie said:

Sorry for my ignorance, but can someone tell me what DPDR is?

 

Thanks,

 

Callie

 

Dp/DR is an alteration in the perception or experience of the external world so that it seems unreal. Other symptoms include feeling as though one's environment is lacking in spontaneity, emotional colouring, and depth. It is a dissociative symptom of many conditions.

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Callie

Thank you very much for the explanation, Hellbutrin.

 

Callie

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Terry4949

Now I am 10 months of all meds I have hit the anhendonia stage and the apathy is worse than the depression I feel it in my stomach I can’t find any enjoyment no interest in anything from things I love to do to even going and seeing my beloved dad , it’s so awfull it makes me want to give up when it’s at it’s worse as it comes in strong waves I really would rather be dead than feel this apathy this feeling is worse than the depression , how do we live does it lift and how long does it last , I spoke to my doctor and he wanted to put me on lithium to help alleviate this feeling as he is worried that suicidal thoughts need addressing, he said to me that more people take their own lives because of the feeling of emptiness than depression and I can see why . But I refused the med , I think I need some reassurance has anyone had this and beat it 

 

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Petunia

Yes, I have been through this stage and it passed. I agree it can feel like the worst experience imaginable. Mine came in waves too, so it wasn't constant 24/7. Like everything else, its impossible to predict how long it will last for you, but it will pass. Knowing that it was temporary is what helped me get through it. If you google 'survivingantidepressants.org' and the topic you are interested in, you will often find we already have a thread with lots of comments and discussion, please post in existing topics, it helps keep all the information together in one easily searchable place.

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Offforgood
On 9/19/2017 at 10:04 AM, Offforgood said:

I think my anhedonia which I have had for the last few years while on meds.. Zoloft 200 mg, olanzipine 5mg and effexor X-rays 450 mg and continue unchanged since I stopped taking all meds in July... I guess I was taken off Zoloft and olanzipine too fast Zoloft in a month taper and olanzipine in a few days.. on psychiatric advice..did I thought slow taper of effexor X-rays over 6 months 50% decrease each month..now am experiencing withdrawals two months later but predominant lack of motivation still persists.  

I think this anhedonia is a result of taking antidepressants for 28 years.. I believe the meds created this symptom when I read this article....

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989833/

 

 

I thought I was getting better but think I stopped am going backwards ..

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Gridley

Anhedonia and lack of motivation can also be symptoms of withdrawal.

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Hellbutrin
On 1/10/2018 at 2:57 PM, Petunia said:

Yes, I have been through this stage and it passed. I agree it can feel like the worst experience imaginable. Mine came in waves too, so it wasn't constant 24/7. Like everything else, its impossible to predict how long it will last for you, but it will pass. Knowing that it was temporary is what helped me get through it. If you google 'survivingantidepressants.org' and the topic you are interested in, you will often find we already have a thread with lots of comments and discussion, please post in existing topics, it helps keep all the information together in one easily searchable place.

I would be so encouraged if I saw even a slight bit of my emotion returning. But I am either in the pits of hell depression or not able to feel anything at all with no in between. I'm so scared that I'm stuck this way. I certainly can't live like this forever, and I'm not even sure that I can see going on like this for another year without any change. If I saw a glimpse of return then I might be able to power through, but if I'm stuck like this then I don't see the point. 

Edited by Altostrata
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Offforgood

I so agree with you.. I could have written this post myself.  What is the point? Maybe I just don’t want to deal with life anymore.  I just need a sign a glimpse of joy in life.

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Hellbutrin
2 minutes ago, Offforgood said:

I so agree with you.. I could have written this post myself.  What is the point? Maybe I just don’t want to deal with life anymore.  I just need a sign a glimpse of joy in life.

Yeah, I agree completely. Feeling like there's no reason to go through this suffering makes it hard to climb out of the depressive states for sure. 

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Petunia
6 minutes ago, Hellbutrin said:

I'm so scared that I'm stuck this way. I certainly can't live like this forever, and I'm not even sure that I can see going on like this for another year without any change. If I saw a glimpse of return then I might be able to power through, but if I'm stuck like this then I don't see the point. 

 

I think we have all had similar feelings when going through the worst of it. For me, the thought I would never get better and that I would be stuck like this was one of those things I had to get very good at ignoring. The added anxiety it caused wasn't helpful and I knew, from everything I read that it wasn't true anyway.  I was going to get better, even if it didn't feel like it at the time.

 

I remember the first time I heard myself laugh, after having not found anything funny for a very long time. It was a shock actually and such a relief. I thought I had lost my sense of humor for ever. You just need to hang in there and know your normal emotions are going to return when they are ready. This is temporary. Don't think in terms of the next year, that's too overwhelming. You don't know what's going to happen in a year. Focus on getting through each day. Each day you get through is one step closer to being healed.

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