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Brain & Nervous System Disorders Message Board

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Hello all,

I'm new here. I'm 23 years old, and have been in good physical health for most of my life (no weight problems or other known physical handicaps whatsoever.) Being a former asthmatic (now I'm fine), I do have a severe intolerance to aspirin/ibuprofen based drugs.

My story is strange and fairly complicated, so just try to understand if it's a bit on the long side. Anyway, I've been on Paxil 30mg for about 6 years (an SSRI antidepressant.) Before I got into amphetamines, the only drugs I had ever taken while on Paxil were moderately high doses of caffeine every day, and in the year just prior to amphetamine addiction, one or two alcoholic drinks a week (contraindicated with Paxil, but I never noticed any adverse effects from such small amounts of alcohol.)

It should be noted that, soon after I began taking Paxil, I noticed I would get intensely euphoric effects from doses of caffeine in excess of 100mg. I soon became *seriously* addicted (strange but true) to the speedy, intellect-potentiating effects of caffeine, and began taking one caffeine pill almost every day for years. I understand that the vast majority of people get only a slight euphoric rush from caffeine--if even that--but to me, just one caffeine pill was a flat out EXPERIENCE that often lasted for up to 6 hours, producing a long "crash" period following the buzz.

But relatively young at the onset of addiction, I never really thought about the reason(s) I was able to get so much out of such a mild stimulant. As well, I hardly had anything against this "addiction" because I also knew that caffeine is very safe, especially considering the usual dosage for me was less than 500mg a day. Of course, tolerance eventually took most of it away, but for at least 2 years, I can claim that I got amazing results from as little as 300mg of caffeine taken daily.

But now I can only wonder what factor(s) could underlie such unusually potent effects:
a) An idiosyncratically high sensitivity to stimulant drugs in general;
b) A strange synergistic effect between the prescription SSRI (Paxil) and stimulants;
c) Some sort of "paradoxical" effect happening due to my "supposed" case of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)

That said, I foolishly took the risk of trying prescription amphetamines last year (Dexedrine), and once again noticed intense effects at generally low dosages. I could take 20mg once a day (they were spansules crushed and dissolved in water) and get an incredible, albeit edgy buzz for up to 6 hours, followed by a terrible period of paranoia, depression, insomnia, lethargy, etc. This was the pattern for a few months, until strange things started happening. However, even though unpredictable effects were increasing, I was hopelessly addicted at this point and unwilling to stop intake, hoping that eventually the usual action of Dexedrine would return to normal.

This did not happen, and the addiction foolishly continued. Now I am left in a terrible emotional and physiological state, where I cannot predict how I feel on ANY given day. I no longer take amphetamines or other dangerous drugs, but the troubling symptoms that progressively developed during a 9 month on-and-off bout of Dexedrine usage (while taking Paxil), have not disappeared whatsoever and in some instances, appear to be worse. I've been almost completely clean of amphetamines for a 2 month period.

The symptoms I currently deal with every day without fail:
- I constantly feel intense pressure all over my head, *especially* on the upper left side, but also on the right and elsewhere. This has worsened rather than improved with time; now I feel as if something could burst inside my head, or as if someone is applying heavy force to my skull
-The pressure is interspersed with "crackling" sounds, especially when I swallow anything, and I occasionally feel short-lived sharp pains in various places around my head
-My veins, such as on my arm, frequently look bulging or more pronounced than usual
-I almost always have a feeling of pressure or tightness in the chest area, sometimes I get sharp pains there as well, which scares the hell out of me.
-I occasionally have shortness of breath, although this correlates directly with how "pressured" or painful my chest feels, especially if there is pressure in the middle of my chest
-I have feelings of "movement" in the head area, as well as in my chest, as if blood vessels are strained; followed by feelings of pressure or pain.
-My sleep patterns are disrupted; sometimes I can't sleep at all, other times I can fall asleep easily
-If I lie down on the left or right side of my head, the corresponding pressure in that area of my head becomes displaced, and increases the pressure on the other side of my head.
-I sometimes get whole body tremors, especially when the pressure is really bad.
-After eating or drinking anything, the tightness in my head and chest usually increases.
-No drugs work properly anymore, a huge problem because I can't afford to have an antidepressant work improperly--I tried to get off Paxil but got into a bout of serious depression and mood swings. Now, I can't be sure what the drug does anymore.
-My body temperature frequently seems higher than usual, and I sometimes have trouble telling what the temperature is in a room, etc.
-Because of all this crap, I can't focus on anything, I get bored easily, and I am very unmotivated, more depressed than usual.
-I also have digestive/gastrointestinal disturbances, such as elevated constipation, and a lesser appetite than usual. Urinary patterns are also different than usual.

Obviously a lot of this sounds crazy, but seriously. I would not have taken the time to write all this if I wanted people to laugh. This is what I am going through, and since no one is able to tell me what the exact problem is, I'd like some feedback or advice on what I should do, who I should see that can best diagnose the problem or recommend a direction to go in.

I am 23 years old and worried that these are serious problems I could have for who knows how long, and instead of disappearing, many of these symptoms are getting slightly worse.

Any feedback would be appreciated.

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