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I had a bad trip 6 years ago and have had lasting anxiety attacks, can you help?
Q: A few years ago (6 years) I had a bad trip on LSD and since then my life has been hell. A week after the bad trip I was hospitalized for 3 days because I thought I was having a flasback or something. I eventually came to the conclusion that I suffered an anxiety attack...althought I was never quite sure what exactly happened. I came on this site and read the part on flasbacks and read the story of the man who tryed LSD with his friends only once and they ended up bringing him to the hospital because he was freaking out. And that after that happened he continued to suffer from flasbacks and anxiety attacks. Well that's who I feel. I live in constant fear of going crazy. I don't want to open my eyes in the morning, because I'm afraid when I open them everything will be distorted. I live in chronic fear and anxiety...To the point I no longer remember what it was like to feel normal or if my symptoms are from LSD flasbacks or anxiety attacks.

My question is if you can recommend something for me to read that will help me? Or if there is something I can do to get better?

Sorry for writing you with this problem...I just didn't know what else to do.

A: First, I am not a doctor, nor is anyone who works for Erowid. We are librarians.

Second, it sounds like you are having problems which are bad enough to warrant seeking professional help. Picking a healthcare practitioner who will be sympathetic can take some effort, but it's worth trying. Perhaps the best way is through personal recommendations; ask friends and family for a general practitioner (or nurse practitioner) recommendation and/or a recommendation for a psychiatrist. If you're not comfortable with the psychiatrist question, you can always suggest you were thinking of asking about sleep medication or trying an antidepressant or something, whatever is socially acceptable in your peer group.

A small portion of people have lasting anxiety problems after taking LSD or other psychedelics (including cannabis). It can even happen to people who have been using psychedelics their whole life; suddenly they have an experience which leaves them shattered, sometimes even without an experience that was really all that frightening.

It's important to know that the symptoms you describe are not unheard of, and with a little care, perhaps some help from someone in the healing professions, and staying away from psychedelics, the symptoms should resolve over time.

Something to consider

Any traumatic or intensely emotional experience can lead to lasting anxiety, having recurring unwanted memories of the incident, difficulties with sleep, disturbed dreams, etc. LSD (or another psychoactive) is not a pharmacological "cause" of this type of anxiety so much as the catalyst that created a traumatic experience at the root of persisting problems. In this sense, reading about posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or finding a healthcare provider familiar with PTSD may be helpful.

About the term "flashbacks"

There are two main types of negative experiences referred to as flashbacks: visual changes (now called HPPD) and anxiety attacks. They are sometimes combined, but often separate. Since the primary effects are disconcerting feelings and anxiety, the well-informed medical community no longer uses the term "flashbacks". For more information about HPPD, please see the HPPD Vault and read the FAQ.

What to read

I'm not sure what to recommend to read. We should definitely collect more information about lasting anxiety reactions for the site. The Center for Psychological and Spiritual Health book list (navigate to it in the sidebar of has some titles that could be useful.

Others' experiences

We have received reports from some people who have had good luck with serotonergic antidepressants to treat lasting anxiety effects after psychedelic use. Those include Paxil, Prozac, etc. Other people have said they have reduced or eliminated their symptoms with other antidepressants such as Wellbutrin. The main thing is to find a healthcare provider you can trust and begin to work with them to see if there are some obvious steps you can take to improve your condition.

Asked By : olga
Answered By : Spoon, earth
Published Date : 6 / 17 / 2004
Last Edited Date : 3 / 16 / 2005
Question ID : 3070

Categories: [ HPPD ] [ Health ] [ Effects ]

Ask Erowid v1.7 - Jul, 2005

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