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Downside of the Upside: Yesterday's High Is Today's Low

answered 09:15 AM EST, Thu October 01, 2015
Hi Richard,

I am currently seeking help for my situation. I had a “bad trip” during the last time I took them. Just to put things into context. This was the third time that I took hallucinogens.
The first time that I took, it was mush ( 1g ) and the experience was blissful. Loved the experience, had a great time and left me very positive. A month after that, I took LSD for the first time. I took a bit too much and I had a serious bad trip. For two hours or so, I believed that I was dyeing and that it was the end for me. 5-6 hours after the bad trip started, I was calming down and I had a feeling of rebirth. The next days were actually very positive and gave me more strength. Felt like I could go through bigger challenges because I overcame that bad trip. A year has passed, and last weekend I decided to tae some mushroom with 3 of my friends. We took ( 1.5g ). After drinking it, 40 mins after the trip started, I got all of the same symptoms of panic attack. It took me about 2 hours to calm down and again I felt this “rebirth feeling” and I was ecstatic that I was still alive.
The very next day, I felt all right. Towards the end of the day, I smoke a small joint of pot. I smoke almost on a daily basis but for the past two months I stopped smoking during the weekdays. A bit after I was done smoking, I had a flashback. A panic started in me but I was able to calm it down after 20-30 mins. Slept fairly well. The next day, I woke up with a lot of anxiety. Not sure what was going on. I thought that I had some permanent damage from the mush. Went to work and once I arrived to the office, I had a full blown panic attack. Asked to go home, and I was able to calm myself down. As the evening progressed, my mood was better and I felt overall better. The very next morning, same situation happened as the day before. I got an anxiety/panic attack. Spoke to my family members about what has occurred and it made me feel better. As the day progressed, I felt better and better. That evening, I felt like I came back 100% to my old self. This morning I wake up, same thing happened. Anxiety and panic attack. I was wondering if this could be physical or purely psychological? Could this be PTSD? I am becoming desperate for help because I am afraid of loosing my job. I can’t be fully functional.

Thank you for any advice.

Dr. Richard Schultz Says...

Hello, and thank you very much for addressing your interesting question to me.

I am sorry for the distress you have been experiencing.

As I have stated in this forum previously, the paradigm of Classical Conditioning suggests that any previously neutral or pleasant stimuli can, when repeatedly paired with symptoms of panic, begin to act as a trigger for those symptoms. Based on the information provided, this is most likely what you are now experiencing. The panic symptoms can recur when you are using hallucinogens (or any mind-altering substance, for that matter), or they can now appear on their own.

For efficiency's sake, I will now link you to the reply I wrote for another ChooseHelp user, who developed similar difficulties with anxiety secondary to substance use.


The takeaway here is that your panic disorder now appears to have a life of it's own, and you are well-advised to seek empirically-valid psychotherapy to address it.

If, after reading my reply to the other user, you have further questions about how to proceed, just write to me again and I will be glad to offer further guidance.


Richard E. Schultz, Ph.D.

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Page last updated Nov 08, 2015

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