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Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder

Also known as Flashbacks

Formerly classified as Post Hallucinogen Perception Disorder, Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder involves re-experiencing the symptoms of hallucinogen without actual taking any of these substances.

What is a hallucinogen? Hallucinogens are drugs that cause distortions in a user’s perceptions of reality. Users often see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist. Some hallucinogens produce rapid, intense mood swings. The most common hallucinogens are LSD, PMA, 2 C-B, peyote, and certain varieties of mushrooms.

The essential feature of Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (Flashbacks) is the transient recurrence of disturbances in perception that are reminiscent of those experienced during one or more earlier Hallucinogen Intoxications.

The disturbance therefore causes marked distress. Complications of this disorder include suicidal behavior, Major Depression, and Panic Disorder. Main characteristics are:

The re-experiencing, following cessation of use of a hallucinogen, of one or more of the perceptual symptoms that were experienced while intoxicated with the hallucinogen (e.g., geometric hallucinations, false perceptions of movement in the peripheral visual fields, flashes of color, intensified colors, trails of images of moving objects, positive afterimages, halos around objects).

The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

The symptoms are not due to a general medical condition (e.g., anatomical lesions and infections of the brain, visual epilepsies) and are not better accounted for by another mental disorder.

Associated Features:

Major Depression
Panic Disorder

Differential Diagnosis:

Some disorders have similar symptoms. The clinician, therefore, in his diagnostic attempt, has to differentiate against the following disorders which need to be ruled out to establish a precise diagnosis.



The origins of this disorder are not known. Some clinicians believe it may be caused by the destruction of inhibitory neurons that regulate and filter sensory information. Another theory states that it could be a form of visual seizures not unlike epilepsy. Since HPPD is a rare disorder, not much research has been devoted to what causes it.


Because HPPD symptoms may be mistaken for other neurological disorders such as stroke or brain tumors, accurate diagnosis is extremely important. There is no established treatment for HPPD, although some antidepressant drugs may reduce the symptoms. Psychotherapy may help patients adjust to the confusion associated with visual distraction and to minimize the fear, expressed by some, that they are suffering brain damage or psychiatric disorder.

Counseling and Psychotherapy [ See Therapy Section ]:

The most important thing is for you to avoid using or abusing psychoactive substances and therefore drug rehab therapy is important factor in coping with the disorder. Treatment is more effective if tailored to suit a person's specific situation and usually involves a combination of methods. The different options include individual counselling, group therapy, medication and supervised/home withdrawal.

Pharmacotherapy [ See Psychopharmacology Section ] :

Pharmacological agents such as clonidine, perphenazine and clonazepan have been shown to ameliorate this syndrome in some of the individuals seeking treatment.

DSM Code

292.89 Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (Flashbacks),

F16.183 Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder

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Psychotic Disorders: A Practical Guide (Practical) Click Here to View


Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder

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