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If you think you have HPPD, read this


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First of all I'm not doubting the existence of HPPD, it is a real disorder and real people do suffer from it.

What I am doubting however is the amount of people you come across when you scale the Internet who claim to have HPPD, when really they are just witnessing normal visual phenomenon.

My experience of HPPD is, I'm sure, similar to a lot of other people's in a way that it wasn't anywhere near as bad until I started reading forums, including this one.

I had a bad trip on MDMA with disturbing visuals, I saw bugs on every wall imaginable. The day after my only symptom was seeing dots on the wall moving in the corner of my vision. This is quite probably something I've had all my life but I've never spent all day staring at a wall so never noticed.

Anyway I'm a naturally anxious person so I googled this and discovered HPPD. I searched for the symptoms and began actually looking for them myself, then I started noticing them. It started with the static (visual snow). Can we just be clear that I didn't notice this symptom until I read about the symptom and started looking for it.

Everyone has visual snow ladies and gentleman, just some people notice it, and I'm pretty sure a lot of people on this forum only noticed it after they read the symptom list of HPPD. I've asked all my closest friends, all my family, some of whom who didn't even know I was suffering with anxiety from this, if they can see the snow, and they all said yes they can if they look for it but they've never noticed it before. Try it yourself.

Anyway, other symptoms included starbursts. Again, everyone gets starbursts on car headlights. I'm not doubting people with HPPD have these to a greater extent, but everyone has them and I strongly believe people have just started looking for this, noticed it, and started getting anxious over it. The same goes for after images, the list goes on.

What a lot of people are suffering from is a hyper awareness and anxiety. Why do you think Benzo's are the best treatment for most people with HPPD? Because the majority of people who think they have HPPD actually don't, they just have an anxiety disorder over the thought of having HPPD.

The reason why a lot of people feel awful after alcohol is because you get rebound anxiety from alcohol, it's a known thing that people with depression/anxiety always feel worse after drinking when it wears off. When you're more anxious you look for the visuals more, so you notice them more. It's similar to when you're drunk, you don't think about the symptoms and they don't bother so you don't notice them.

Some people have HPPD. People with constant tracers, after images of everything, blinding starbursts, shit getting bigger and smaller in your vision have HPPD. A lot of people just see natural visual phenonomon and put it down to HPPD. If a lot of you treat your anxiety about having HPPD and stop obsessing over the symptoms, I can guarantee your symptoms will diminish, because a lot of you have an anxiety disorder, not HPPD. I know this because I was the same.

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I forgot to mention. A lot of the other psychological symptoms people mention such as brain fog is a symptom of anxiety. It's quite a common one actually. Anxiety can cause a number of visual disturbances such as floaters (which again are a hell of a lot more likely to be anxiety as opposed to HPPD), as well as cognitive ones.

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I have had this for just over a year and only noticed these visuals after doing drugs and I had never even heard of HPPD at the time. I was seeing these visuals while undiagnosed for a while before learning what HPPD was. I see tracers, afterimages and I see very strong visual snow all the time. I started noticing all this before I ever learned about HPPD

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Before noticing my visual symptoms, I was just having severe panic attacks whenever I was watching videos at a class (which was in fact my favorite class at university) and had to leave the room. Only after I forced myself to sit through the class and observe what was going on, I realized that the RGB color channels of the digital projector were seperating and leaving strobing after images in my vision. Well, initially I thought that wasn't about me, just the projector was broken and I was a bit more sensitive than the others.

Finding out that noone else saw that was quite harsh you know...

I guess I realized the other symptoms after this... yet I didn't know what HPPD was during the first year I suffered from it. I thought, maybe I triggered some mild form of epilepsy or something like that. Benzos and antidepressants didn't help, in the end I found relief with lamictal, an anticonvulsant. But the only medication that really helps with my anxiety was welbutrin, which actually triggers all the HPPD symptoms while removing the anxiety. A bit ironic, isn't it? :)


Still, I do agree with what you say. Anxiety and obsessing over symptoms makes it much worse, and sometimes makes normal stuff to seem like huge problems. Like you mention, some of the visual distortions are quite common among non-hppd people and perhaps some people are just obsessing over it. That doesn't mean that what they experience is less important though... We all have to identify our real problems in order to heal, so searching for such answers is probably a good thing.

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  • 5 years later...

I just thought I would bump this up for anyone who needs to read it. Treat your anxiety is the best way to treat your HPPD. I have spent the last 5 or 6 years pretty much fine on top of things with my anxiety. When I go through a stressful situation or my anxiety flares up, I then notice visual disturbances more. I think a lot of what people suffer from is anxiety and being hyper aware of natural visual pphenomna as opposed to HPPD. Not that I'm doubting the existence of hppd - I just think some people who think they suffer from hppd actually just suffer from anxiety. I was one of them. When I'm not anxious at all, I can go days without noticing any visual disturbance.

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