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Suggestions for supporting a loved one with HPPD?


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My son at age 18, used LSD a handful of times.  He came to me shortly thereafter and told me his trip would not end. He told he thought he had HPPD. Since that time, 4 years ago, I have sought help from no less than 50 specialists on the east coast of the USA, with literally no help. His GP put him on Clonipin, and it lessened his anxiety for a bit, but he is "shark-bit" from any drug, he decided to get off of it, and did. As a result, he experiences debilitating HPPD symptoms including VS, trailing, flashbacks and crippling panic attacks. As a single mom, it is heartbreaking, and I have no one to talk to about this. Any ideas on what I can do to help my only son? Before this, he as an honor student, star athlete, and the favorite kid at school. He now is a shell of what he was before, always sad, crying and very dark.

Thank you.

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I'm so sorry for what has happened to your son, and what you are going through as well.

You said he took Klonopin for a while, and it sounds like he doesn't want to take it because he's now afraid of drugs (I haven't heard the term "shark-bit" before, just guessing). Klonopin can be very helpful, especially if his symptoms are as bad as you say. I've been on Klonopin for over a decade, and while it isn't ideal, it's better than suffering constantly. I've found the minimum effective dosage to be 2mg a day, less than that isn't helpful. He'd need to be taking it every day though, and it's a very addictive drug, so it's worth weighing the pro's and con's, if he'd be willing to take it.
If you search the medication section of this board, you'll see people have tried other medication treatments, with varying degrees of success, but I can't vouch for them.
I have found lifestyle changes like getting enough aerobic exercise, eating healthy, and perhaps giving mindfulness meditation a try, might be helpful for you son. It's also important for someone with HPPD to avoid things like Caffeine, and obviously he needs to stay away from other drugs, especially pot, but it sounds like that's already how he feels. It's also important to avoid SSRI anti-depressants, and anti-psychotic drugs, they can make symptoms worse, sometimes permanently.

I'm not at all surprised that out of all those specialists none have been helpful, I'm sure the majority of us here can tell you we've been through the same. There isn't a lot of research out there on HPPD, and Doctors are never trained in it.

The best advice I can give you to help your son, is to try and understand the condition as well as possible. That's something that is a wedge between me and my parents: they don't fully understand it, which further drives frustration and depression. You came here looking for help for you son, so I have no doubt this is already the case, but it's worth mentioning that sometimes those of us with HPPD may need to vent about it, without judgement. Other times we may not want to talk about it. Perhaps finding some new hobbies for him to focus on that aren't overly visually stimulating, and are relaxing, especially if they give him a feeling of accomplishing something. One thing I find with HPPD is that I often feel "what's the point in trying, my life is basically over", but by having a goal that you can reach, it shows that you're still kicking, and you're still capable.

The other thing that could help him, is to visit a support board such as this one. Sometimes it can just help to know you're not alone, and talking to people with the same condition can be very helpful, as unless someone has it themselves, there's only so much others can understand.

It's also worth mentioning that some people get lucky and have it go away. I had met a Doctor for psychological testing (for different reasons, not relating to HPPD) and he confided in me, after he saw in my chart that I have HPPD, that he also had HPPD, from LSD, and after about 10 years it just went away. I don't know how common it is to go away, as there are people who still have it decades later, but it's worth holding out hope that it is possible.

I'll try and think of other things over the course of the day.

I'll be thinking of your son today, and you as well.

Take care, and if you have any questions or need any advice, you can send me a PM as well, I try and get back to people as quickly as possible.

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