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Anna, Sa230e has a valid point with regard to the testing. I have been on serotenergic drugs (SSRIs) on and off for 14 years, and desperately want to get off. I looked into the neurotransmitter testing and found that there is scant evidence to support anything other than the spinal tap method, and even that is just a snapshot in time (no way to know what your levels have been before, history of fluctuation and such). I would be wary of messing with your serotonin and GABA, as it can result in downregulation of the receptors, and create rebound problems after you discontinue the supplements. The best thing you can do, in my humble opinion of course, is exercise regularly (30 mins / day of moderate intensity cardio) and eat in accordance with Matt’s suggestions. I know it is hard to exercise when you are fatigued, but it helps regulate everything.
Jude- I am also interested in this. I understand that this can be an underlying cause of anxiety and OCD (which I have).
Matt, Rob, can you expound on any of this?
I too, have struggled with sleep (mainly recently), and have OCD as well. I went down the path of Zolpidem (Ambien) and it made me severely depressed and anxious – I do not recommend ANY prescription medicines for sleep. Magnesium at night (600 – 1000 mg) works very well for me, though I will say that the most effective resource has been Sasha Cohen’s book, “The Effortless Sleep Method” – for those of us that obsess or worry about the lack of sleep and make it worse, this book helps restore your faith in your inborn ability to sleep, which we all have, by the way. The most effective thing for me thus far from Ms. Cohen’s advice has been to limit the amount of time I spend in bed; i.e., determine the minimum number of hours that you need to feel rested and functional, pick your wake up time (and stick to it every single day of the week – yes, weekends) and do not spend more time than this in your bed. If you find yourself waking up, not being able to sleep, then get up and read or listen to an audio book, work on a puzzle, etc. (in low light) until you are tired again and then go back to bed. This seems difficult, but it does work – it strengthens the sleep : bed association and lessens the anxiety associated with sleep. I would recommend a frank discussion with your psychiatrist about the medicines that you are on concurrently – they can certainly be contributing to your sleep issues – especially the zolpidem, as it is short-acting and is out of your bloodstream in a matter of hours, when it then begins to wake you up, and keep you up (often around 3-5 am).
Hope this helps!! God Bless –
Amy has some good advice regarding the sleep hygiene. I would recommend a cheap book by Sasha Cohen, called “The Effortless Sleep Method”. I have recently been struggling with sleep, and found her approach to be a wonderfully insightful approach to resetting your natural sleep ability.