Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) Flashbacks Explained - AspenRidge

What is HPPD?

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder is a condition that affects people who have taken certain drugs. A wide variety of drugs can cause this disorder. The symptoms of the disorder come in many forms. Moreover, it’s important to note that the disorder is different from flashbacks. Many people confuse these two events. However, flashbacks occur quickly and then end. Hallucinations from the disorder persist. Additionally, HPPD is a DSM-5 diagnosis. This is an important difference. Flashbacks are not recognized as a mental health issue. HPPD is. There are some more important facts about Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder. For example, a person must have used hallucinogenic drugs to qualify for the diagnosis. However, using these drugs is not enough for a diagnosis. Furthermore, there are treatment options for the disorder. This is another way that it is different from flashbacks. The medical approach to the issue is completely different. A person does not have the disorder simply because they’ve taken one of the drugs that cause it. The visual effects must be frequent. Moreover, they need to happen often enough to be distracting. Furthermore, someone with HPPD realizes that the visual effects aren’t real. This fact separates HPPD from other mental health disorders. People with other disorders experience similar effects. However, these people think that the effects are real. This fact shows why it’s important to see a doctor. A doctor knows the difference between Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder and other mental health issues. Therefore, a doctor is the best person to give an accurate diagnosis. 

What Drugs Cause HPPD?

People get HPPD from taking psychedelic drugs. Some examples include mushrooms, LSD, and ecstasy or MDMA. However, this is not a complete list. Other drugs might cause the disorder as well. There is very little evidence of the effects of new drugs. These new hallucinogenic drugs are frequently called research chemicals. Their names sound like an alphabet soup. Examples include 2CE, 2CI, and others. These drugs are created by chemists. They attempt to reproduce natural drugs like peyote. There are also reports of drugs like salvia causing the disorder. Additionally, scientists think other drug interactions can cause the disorder. One example is modafinil, a wakefulness agent. Some users describe HPPD symptoms when taking this drug with stimulants like caffeine. However, there is an important fact to keep in mind. These drugs are associated with the disorder. But that doesn’t mean everyone who takes these drugs will get the disorder. Moreover, the disorder can come from legal drugs as well. Modafinil, for example, treats several conditions. Doctors regularly prescribe it for attention disorders and sleep disorders. Therefore, the fact that someone has HPPD doesn’t mean they use illegal drugs. 

HPPD Symptoms List

There are many different symptoms associated with HPPD. Most of the effects deal with perception issues. Some people see halos around items or people. Others have problems identifying different colors. Some people see movement where there is none. Trails, also called tracers, that follow moving objects are another symptom. People with the disorder also report grainy vision. This is also known as visual snow. There’s an important difference between visual effects that come with the disorder and other visual effects. For example, imagine looking at a bright light. People usually see the imprint of that light once they look away. However, that image fades quickly. Additionally, it doesn’t distract you from your daily tasks. Visual effects linger and can’t be ignored in cases of the disorder. As a result, people with the disorder have problems concentrating. They struggle to do their daily tasks. This happens with enough intensity to be a problem in their daily lives. Most of the effects of the disorder are visual. However, people have reported hearing sounds as well. There are drugs that produce similar effects. One example that has been linked to HPPD is the drug DMT. Science is still trying to better understand this disorder. More studies will produce more facts.   People experience other problems with the disorder. It is associated with other mental health problems. These problems include anxiety, panic attacks, depersonalization, and depression. This list of problems makes treating the disorder tricky. Some drugs used to treat these issues make the symptoms of Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder worse. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to see a doctor. A doctor makes sure that the treatments will help and not make the issues worse.

HPPD Symptom Causes

Doctors and scientists are still trying to figure out how the disorder works. They agree that the disorder comes from the brain and is not a problem with the eyes. Some think that the visual effects result from problems with the brain’s visual cortex. This part of the brain takes information from the eyes. It uses that information to produce our sense of sight. Hallucinogenic drugs may alter the way this part of the brain works. As a result, people experience the symptoms of the disorder. 

HPPD Treatment

There are a few different ways to treat HPPD. For example, one of the most common treatments involves anti-anxiety drugs. Scientists think stress and anxiety are triggers for the disorder. Drugs that lower stress produce some of the best treatment results. Additionally, anticonvulsant drugs are effective for some people. Scientists are finding new treatments for HPPD all the time. However, more research still needs to be done. People respond to treatment in different ways. There isn’t a single treatment for the disorder. It’s also important to understand what drugs make the disorder worse. Some drugs should not be taken by people with the disorder. One example is the drug risperidone. One study found that this drug makes HPPD symptoms worse. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to see a doctor if you think you have the disorder. A doctor can make sure that your medications won’t make the disorder worse. They also make sure that medicine you take for other issues works with the treatment for the disorder. Many people with the disorder look for natural HPPD treatments. However, at this time there are no scientifically-backed natural treatments. Although, we know so little about the disorder that one may yet be discovered.

HPPD Frequently Asked Questions

People have many questions about Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder. Therefore, we’ve listed some of the most common questions that people have about HPPD along with the best answers science can provide. The disorder is not very well understood. Science is making new discoveries all the time. Therefore, expect more information as more studies are done.  Use this information to gain a better understanding of this disorder. 

How Common is HPPD?

HPPD isn’t a very common condition. For example, one study found the disorder in 4.1% of hallucinogen users. However, researchers conducted this survey online. This might alter the results, as people with visual problems might be more likely to complete the survey. Another survey looked at 500 members of a Native American Church. These members consumed peyote more than 100 times. Researchers did not find a single instance of the disorder in this group. Therefore, these studies show how little we understand about the condition. Moreover, they show that there is more to the condition than merely taking certain drugs. There are other problems with knowing how common the disorder is. Some people may not want to report their symptoms. They are afraid of the stigma that comes with being a drug user. Other people may experience the visual effects but are not bothered by them. Finally, Therefore, it is very hard to know how common the disorder is.

Do I Have HPPD?

It is impossible to tell if someone has the disorder without a clinical evaluation. The DSM-5 explains the basis for diagnosing Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder. If you think you are experiencing this disorder then you should make an appointment with a qualified mental health professional. Keep in mind, there are important differences between flashbacks and HPPD. However, it is easy for the average person to confuse the two situations. There is another reason to get a professional opinion. People that self-diagnosis often try to self-medicate. This creates serious risks. Some drugs can make the symptoms worse. Other drugs can create a new addiction. Science is always improving our understanding of addiction. However, that’s no reason to create new risks for yourself. Moreover, it is especially important to see a professional given how little we know about the condition. Doctors have access to the latest research. They know more about different conditions and treatments. Additionally, doctors have a better grasp of how drugs interact. They can handle difficult situations. Many people with the disorder also face other mental health problems. As a result, it is harder to find the best solution for the patient. 

Is HPPD Permanent?

There is not enough research to know if the disorder is permanent. Some people report symptoms for months or even years. Moreover, treatment reduces the symptoms of the disorder. Therefore, people being treated can still have the disorder without the symptoms. This makes it hard to tell how long the disorder lasts. Doctors cannot study it without patients. But patients go to doctors for treatment. As a result, we know very little about how long the disorder lasts. The important thing to keep in mind is that the disorder can be treated. Treatment helps many patients lead normal lives. No one makes the choice to have the disorder. However, like any addiction, anyone can choose to get the help they need. 

Is There an HPPD Test Online?

There are websites claiming to be an online HPPD test. However, these sites are not the same as a doctor. You can use these sites to learn more about the disorder. Moreover, they can give you an idea for questions to ask your doctor. But there are no websites that can do what a doctor does. There are also websites that try to show what it’s like to have the disorder. These sites provide videos. The videos show what someone with the disorder might see. They can be informative. Additionally, they can help others understand what the disorder is like. However, these videos cannot tell if you have the disorder.

Understanding HPPD

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder is a real thing. It causes severe problems for people who have it. Moreover, science does not understand it well. However, there are options for people with the disorder. Proper treatment helps people live a normal life. The disorder does show one of the many dangers of using hallucinogenic drugs. It is important to remember that the disorder also affects people who have never used illegal drugs. Moreover, remember that there are treatment options. People with Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder are able to lead a normal life. Use this information to get a better understanding of the disorder and the people it affects.

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