Tsang/Shidlofsky Visual Snow Protocol

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April 25, 2022 | 1 Comment

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  1. I have visual snow due to SSRI withdrawal.
    I’m 23, and I was stable on sertraline for just over two years, highest dose 50mg. It was prescribed after a period of anxiety due to burnout at university.

    I’m currently just over three months off sertraline. I was only taking 25mg, which I was told by multiple GPs was a ‘placebo/child’s dose’ and that I could stop taking it right away. I have since discovered that even at 25mg the brain will be significantly affected by abrupt removal of this drug, and for someone who is sensitive to psychoactive substances this has been disastrous – as evidenced by my ongoing withdrawal. A reinstatement attempt exacerbated negative symptoms (nausea, waking with feelings of panic and a racing heart, sleep paralysis, tingling pains all over my body, chest pain, facial numbness, nightmares, restlessness, feeling of doom, distorted perception as if having a bad ‘trip’ e.g. as if on psychedelics). Now the remaining symptoms which I struggle with are visual snow, light sensitivity, migraine headaches, fatigue, brain zaps (more like clicking sounds in my head) and derealisation. I also have PSSD, but sexual dysfunction was the reason I wanted to stop sertraline in the first place so i am unfortunately ‘used’ to it…

    I think that there is similarity to my experience and people’s experiences of HPPD (hallucinogen persisting perception disorder) as both SSRIs and psychedelics such as LSD act serotonergically upon brain chemistry (as my understanding goes). In fact a lot of symptoms of HPPD align with symptoms experienced during SSRI withdrawal, in particular when it comes to visual snow.

    Essentially, my nervous system has been drastically destabilised from SSRI use, to an extent which is shocking, and I have had a traumatic experience worse than any of the initial anxiety I was prescribed it for. The majority of doctors have no idea how to safely prescribe, supervise or deprescribe these drugs, which have the capacity to cause as much if not more harm as illegal drug use.

    I do believe that my symptoms will improve with time, and that once a year has passed I will be in a much better place, I’m just white knuckling it until then and doing my best to find comfort in the small good things that I can. Peer support is saving me.

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