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I go without sleep a lot. I'm a student and I have ADHD and GAD and depression and meds to treat those conditions, plus I am hopelessly in love with Diet Coke, so this is not surprising.

I do okay in the dead of night - I can even be productive! - but come around five or six a.m. and suddenly I am freaking out. Everyone in the world hates me and they are talking behind my back. If I get off my couch I will wake the people who live below me. There are little bitty spiders crawling on the wall behind my head.

And then I have the panic attack.

Um...I don't know. Is this normal? Please don't tell me more sleep would help becuase I know it would, but I just CAN'T. Not right now.

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Normal? Under the circumstances, at least, neither unusual or surprising.

But. . .spiders on the wall are not cool. Panic attacks more or less every day, that's got to take more out of you than you can afford to lose. Sleep deprivation over a long period of time makes people sick. . .or sicker. Every time I've pushed things this far in response to pressure, I've fallen apart: either I get pneumonia (the specialty of the house), or I get so depressed I can't do anything. I also get mean. I mean really mean.

People also get to the point where they have to drop out of school altogether.

Staying up is your response to the pressure. And it seems to be working. But sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. Be careful, please, be careful; or something's going to give.

And please give some thought (when you can!!) to the possibility that there's more going on here than just the usual crap that goes with being a student.

Hope  at least that the spiders go away.


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What specifically are you taking? Sometimes I get little hints that my Adderall could do a lot of more interesting things, perhaps if I was sleep deprived. Every once in a while my mind tries to make something coherent out of random background noise, like the alien chorus that came from my exercise bike or refrigerator hum sounding like distant voices. I imagine I might get those flies if I got tired and anxious enough. But unless you find a way to sleep more and the problem goes away very soon, you should tell your pdoc about this.

I find caffeine to be really obnoxious stuff, except in very small doses, and I shouldn't be having it anyway. In my experience, after a few weeks I feel like I did before I started, except that going without is pretty unpleasant, and I don't sleep as well.

Have you tried a tiny bit of your ADD med (if it's a stimulant) to get to sleep? Works well for me. I usually have enough left in my system at bedtime, but you might not. If I wake up too early, I take 2.5mg (quarter tablet) and go back to sleep. For instance, I was hungry this AM and got up before 7 and had some breakfast. At 7:20 I took my quarter tablet and went back to sleep for an hour.

If your sleep deprivation is voluntary, I'll bet you are losing more productivity in daytime than you are gaining in the night. Certainly that was my experience in school, tho I was not capable of the kind of all nighter that you seem to do routinely. That didn't exactly stop me, tho. Even now it's tough for me to knock off what I'm doing and go to bed.

I don't know much about panic attacks, and you told me not to say the one idea I have there.

Hope you can get this worked out soon.

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Hi, guys - thanks for the responses. I got an hour's worth of sleep this afternoon, but still feel like crap.

I was really, really freaked out becuase of the spider-hallucinations. I've never had that symptom before and it was really scary. I've been on my meds (well, on and off, more on than off) for a year. I take Strattera and Lexapro, and this is NOT a normal side effect, so it muct be the sleep deprivation. BAD.

tomtyger: you're right that my response to pressure is to not-sleep; I've never learned to study properly and rely on last-minute all nighters (all weekers?) to get things accomplished. I'm terrified now that this is not working any more...and I AM sick.  ;) Sore throat, the works set in this afternoon. Grrr...

Ido: I am on Strattera and Lexapro, 60 and 10 mg. Taken in the morning. These were stopping the panic attacks and keeping me fairly level - and making me sleepy as well - but that seems to have changed. I'm worrying that these drugs are no longer working for me, and don't know what I could be switched to. I'm afraid of the stimulants. Won't they make the sleeplessness worse?

I was hoping to get through until December before seeing my pdoc. I really love and trust the guy I have back home, and I'm halfway across the country from him becuase of school. I've had horrible experiences with the doctors I've seen here.

Yes, there is more going on here than just insomnia.... :)   Thanks for listening.

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