Brain feels like it has a 'mental block' / slowed thoughts

Posted , 3 users are following.

Hi there

I've been recently experiencing more frequent 'attacks' (for want of a better word), whereby I'll be thinking something and my thoughts slow down in the process. They will often slow down so much that it will feel like I am thinking and wading through treacle with the thoughts I am having, almost like metaphorically trying to push my way past something in my head to actually have the thought (if that makes any sense!)

I've had a head injury over two years ago, and have since recovered from post concussion syndrome etc but I did have a period after the head injury where my thoughts were considerably slower and I would struggle to think properly. I've also been getting a lot more headaches recently (I have a history of migraines) and have been waking up more with them. I know that all of these symptoms could be related to the head injury, and psychtropic drugs I was given after (including an antipyschotic and antidepressant), but these episodes really worry me as I am only 36 and it feels like I have some sort of dementia (or even brain tumour!)

My GP has referred me to a neurologist re: the headaches, and I'm coping with my drug induced movement disorder too (tardive dyskinesia). This, of course, may also have a bearing on my mental state as it does make me very anxious at times with all the wretched involuntary movements.

Has anyone else ever had really odd episodes of slowed/reduced thought speed etc? Could these be linked to my head injury or migraines? Or are they possibly something like epilepsy?

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4 Replies

  • Posted

    Nikki, you poor love - you're really going through it, aren't you?

    I'm a former neuro nurse, albeit from way back when, and I have to say at the outset that I don't think you need to go down the pathway of dementia or a brain tumour. Post-concussion syndrome can go on for many years, sometimes a lifetime, and is already enough to account for all your symptoms.

    What's really bothering me is why you've had to go on antipsychotics or, more precisely, whether you still need to be on them now. But please don't stop or even reduce the antipsychotics without strict medical supervision, as this can cause major problems.

    Both antipsychotics and antidepressants - but particularly the former - can cause mental slowing. You're clearly reacting badly to your antipsychotic meds if you're getting tardive dyskinesia. I know what this can be like as I saw a dear friend going through it when she was put on clozapine. Medications affect different people in different ways, and there are many other antipsychotics which might not cause the same disastrous side-effects.

    I'm very glad to hear that your GP has referred you to a neurologist. That's the specialist you need to see.

    But I'm still flummoxed about the antipsychotics. It's true that some people go through mental changes in the immediate aftermath of a head injury (or indeed brain surgery - which is a type of injury in itself). Antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds may be necessary to control this, at least in the early stages. However, it's very rare for post-head-injury patients to be put on antipsychotics. Can you tell me who prescribed these drugs, and whether they're being regularly reviewed? They should only be prescribed by a psychiatrist, but far too many GPs are getting in on the act these days, without having the necessary knowledge. That's what happened to my friend, with disastrous consequences.

    The next question that comes to mind is: why are you on antipsychotics? Did you have a full-blown psychotic episode when recovering from the head injury? That's quite rare, but can happen. However, it's not common to treat this kind of episode with antipsychotics, and certainly not long-term.

    You also mention epilepsy. Has the head injury left you with epilepsy? That's not uncommon, I'm afraid. However, even if it did, I don't think the epilepsy would be the cause of your brain fog. It would be more likely that both are the result of the head injury itself.

    I'm sorry if I'm asking too many questions, but it seems to me that these might be questions your GP should have asked, and perhaps didn't. There isn't really enough information in your post to shell all this out.

    You don't have to answer, of course. I'm no authority, just some old dame on a patient forum! But it might help to formulate some of the questions you need to ask the neurologist when you get there. If you don't want to answer in public, you can send me a private message by clicking on that little envelope icon underneath my avatar. PMs via this site don't carry viruses, and they don't expose the email address of either party.

    And once again, please don't stop or reduce any of your medications, particularly the antipsychotic. This has to be done over a very long period, and only under medical supervision.

    • Posted

      Hello Lily

      Thank you so much for your excellent and kind reply. I think you have prob replied to my posts before, so you may remember a bit about my background.

      The antipsychotic was given for only a week in Dec 2015 as I was having a mental breakdown after severe sleep deprivation. My GP had prescribed Citalopram, diazepam, zopiclone and melatonin all in an attempt to get me to sleep after having had none for about three weeks. I refused to continue the Citalopram after two days as I was scared of the side effects, yet ironically the Pericyazine gave me TD after only a week...! My psychaitrist said I was bloody unlucky to get it and one of the five neurologists I saw - the only one who said I had TD - said that I should never have been prescribed the antipsychotic given my history of head injury and having been born prematurely because of heroin... 😔😥😖

      Suffice to say, nearly 18 months later I am still dealing with all of the TD symptoms and post concussion while trying not to be too angry at my GP who prescribed the drugs to help me.

      I prob would have ended up in hospital if I hadn't taken the antipsychotic as my anxiety was really that bad, and I wasn't psychotic at all - just severely anxious. It is all great saying this with hindsight but obv what is done is done, and I can only blame myself in a way for not taking the Citalopram when offered it originally. 😳😥

      Anyway... I don't think i have epilepsy or a brain tumour; you're prob correct in saying that. I do have these odd episodes and not even neurologists have a bloody clue what they are. All I can liken it to is very slowed thoughts. The most worrying one was when I woke up and literally couldn't recall a single fact about anything for about a minute, but still managed to move around / talk etc. That was pretty odd.

      Meh... The brain is a weird and wonderful thing. I just wished mind worked a bit better really... 😥😔

    • Posted

      I forgot to say - my GP didn't ever consult a psychaitrist about the antipsychotic and ironically it was ME telling her that I thought I had TD... Yet the woman kept saying I couldn't possibly get it after such a low dose for such a short duration. I know my body and the very odd things I was doing - making 'kissing' noises, lip smacking, grimacing, clicking my tongue etc - were all classic TD symptoms. I feel so angry that no one believed me for so long and it took four months to convince medical professionals and my family that I wasn't a hypochondriac nor were my symptoms due to anxiety. Yes, people might tic when anxious, but grimacing and lip smacking are the just the most bizarre things ever and I've NEVER heard of anxiety causing these at all.

      Anyway, I have moved on quite a bit from all that and can just about cope with the odd grimace, toe wriggle and lip smacking on a daily basis. Life is crap at times, but it goes on. 😖😝

    • Posted

      Hi Nikki,

      I can't say I recall talking to you before, but then again I have my own kind of "brain fog" as I'm in my 70s! Also, there's another Lily on some of these boards.

      So the TD didn't clear up when you stopped taking the antipsychotic? I agree with your psychiatrist - you were indeed unlucky. However, this isn't totally unknown. I'm very glad you're going back to see the neurologist though. I gather it's been less than two years since you took the pericyazine, and from what you say it seems as if there has been some improvement in the TD. I would expect improvement to continue for another year or so, even if it doesn't clear up completely. The neurologist will also be able to establish what else might be going on.

      The same goes for your post-concussion symptoms. These can last for a long time, but they can continue to improve for years, so you shouldn't give up hope.

      I have to say I'm still very shocked that your GP took it upon herself to prescribe an antipsychotic. Shocked, but not surprised. This seems to go on all over the world. The same thing happened to my friend - albeit for different reasons - but that wasn't in the UK.

      I'd say to anyone else reading this who's suffering from insomnia, depression or anxiety: I know you're desperate, but please always research anything your doctor prescribes before taking it, and query the prescription if you find it's an antipsychotic. You can always find the information on-line or in the patient information leaflet.

      Doctors are good at convincing us that they always know best, and sometimes they do. There are some fantastic GPs out there - I had the great good luck to come across one after my house move four years ago, and I'd trust him with my immortal soul. But there are some misguided doctors too. (I'm being polite here to avoid being taken down!) In the end, we all have to take responsibility for ourselves.

      I'm not saying no one should take antipsychotic drugs. They can often allow people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorders to lead a normal life. But they're best avoided if you don't have this type of disorder. People also need to follow up on any drugs GPs are prescribing for elderly relatives with dementia. Antipschycotics really shouldn't be prescribed for these patients, but about 50% of dementia sufferers all over the world are currently on them.

      Nikki, I do hope you can soon start to find some peace and healing, and put all this behind you. I really do think your symptoms will continue to improve slowly.

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