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Ask the Mental Health Expert Archives 2001-2004

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Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder

Q. I am trying to start a non profit organization surrounding the subject of hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD).

It seems to me that there are many people who experiment with Hallucinogenic drugs and have the misfortune of getting HPPD but more often than not get misdiagnosed with depression, mania, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or any other mental disorder other than HPPD.

My non profit is in the works but it may be some time to get it going. I was wondering, in light of the extasy use among youth (raves/clubs), the curious and experimental teenager that dabbles in LSD and mushrooms, why haven't the AMA, APA and the Heffter Institute done some research in the so called "myth" of HPPD? If there are organizations working on HPPD? If so, who are they?

A. HPPD, or hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, is certainly not a "myth". Respected psychiatrists, such as Dr. Henry Abraham, are actively involved in research and treatment of HPPD. As you know, this syndrome usually consists of chronic visual hallucinations, illusions, or flashbacks in an individual with a history of significant LSD or other hallucinogen use.

It is believed that some abnormality in receptors for the brain chemical, serotonin, may underlie HPPD. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recognizes HPPD, and you can find information at their website (www.nida.nih.gov). You might also want to see some of the professional articles on HPPD, such as those by Dr. Abraham and colleagues (e.g., "EEG coherence in post-LSD visual hallucinations." By Abraham HD, Duffy FH..Psychiatry Res 2001 Oct 1;107(3):151-63). Finally, you may also be interested in the self-help website, www.stormloader.com/hppd, which may be a good start for someone aiming to set up his own site.

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November 2002

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