Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

By Andrea Shirley, Psych BS, MC Intern

Depression and associated symptoms of anxiety can be extremely painful states of being. In short, Depression can hurt, both physically and psychologically. In an effort to escape this pain, sometimes individuals turn to alcohol and drug use. In fact, approximately 15-30 % of people with substance use difficulties suffer from a dual diagnosis of Depression and addiction. Unfortunately, these two issues, can have a compounding impact; the use of drugs and alcohol may increase symptoms of depression and depression may increase the desire to use drugs and alcohol (www.AddictionsAndRecovery.org)
As Ketamine treatment for Depression provides relief, sometimes patients become motivated to decrease or stop using drugs and alcohol. At this time, a syndrome many people are unaware of may begin; Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). This syndrome promotes symptoms that can be confused with those of depression such as mood swings, fatigue, and irritability. When these symptoms arise, individuals may be alarmed, fearing that their depression is returning.
Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol occur over a period of time in a variety of stages. People are most commonly aware of the immediate symptoms which occur in the first two weeks, or the Acute Withdrawal stage. Less commonly known is that withdrawal symptoms may continue to periodically emerge as healing takes place. This process is the Protracted Withdrawal period, called Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome for individuals dealing with these symptoms. The symptoms may vary from person to person and may be different depending on the type of substance an individual has discontinued use of. Periodic symptom emergence may last up to two years.

Common Post-Acute Withdrawal symptoms include:
* Depression
* Anxiety
* Irritability
* Fatigue
* Variable energy
* Low enthusiasm
* Variable concentration
* Disturbed sleep

The good news is that if the differences between Depression and PAWS can be sorted out, and coping strategies can be implemented. The path to an easier recovery from both Depression and PAWS can be defined. If this issue touches you or your loved one personally, Ketamine Wellness Centers wants to help. We offer Brief Therapy to support you in finding your road to recovery.

Fields, Richard, Ph.D. (2013) Chapter 13. Drugs in perspective. New York, NY; McGraw Hill Corporation, Inc.