Recovering cognitive function lost from medications

Sorry for this post ending up quite long despite me trying to be brief. To skip to my question, go to the last paragraph or two

I had a psychotic episode about five years ago. While it was traumatizing and mind-bending, there were other explanations that could have been reached if the MH professionals had listened to me or even attempted to understand what was happening to me. They stabilized me in an inpatient setting, essentially medication only as there was no real psychology given beyond “group therapy.” After a week I was ‘more stable,’ and released. My wind was still completely twisted, I was dumfounded and trapped between reality and trying to make sense of all the delusions I’d experienced. Occasionally falling back into believing them and becoming paranoid. They diagnosed me quickly as schizophrenic despite the fact of me pointing out that even according to the DSM I did not meet the description.

Let me try to make this a less lengthy post for now. To make this shorter, let me summarize by saying I eventually determined that while I had certainly had a dramatic and traumatizing taste of schizophrenia, it faded away after a month and I became asymptomatic - struggling only with the depression and PTSD the entire experience left me with. I’m fairly familiar with pharmocology and did not want to continue taking something I did not need that may cause rebound symptoms. Against my psych’s will, I reduced my dose. I’d have considered his input more if he was even attempting to hear me out or understand my situation, but this was a psych probably from the lobotomy days, I was dealing with an ideology, not a doctor.

Well holy hell zyprexa is a bitch to withdraw from. It took me over a year to do it, including several months of compounding 2.5mg pills into eighths and stepping down a couple weeks at a time. About a week or two after completely coming off of them, I did experience a brief, but less severe, mild rebound psychosis. I let it pass and have been asymptomatic for the past 5 years.

I am still experience a lot of the cognitive difficulties I got while taking zyprexa. I used to be sharp and quick thinking, now while I think I’m wiser than before, I’m sort of slow thinking and dull. It can be really difficult to string sentences together verbally. I’ve overall lost my communication skills, especially verbal, but often written as well. Motivation is extremely lacking. I honestly feel like my IQ has been cut in half.

I cannot begin to express how strong you all are. I know what it feels like to live with that for a month. I know what it feels like to expect to live with it forever. And I know what the side effects feel like and what it feels like to accept them in favor of the alternative. I am truly thankful it was brief for me and I have tremendous respect for everyone living with it. You’re stronger than you probably know, and I think it’s likely you have a broader perspective than most people ever will.

I’m wondering if anybody has either learned to offset the cognitive troubles while taking their meds, or if anyone who was able to quit their meds have found ways to recover cognitively and emotionally. I dabble in nootropics and have found a few that help moderately - aniracetam, etc. But no magic bullet. I’m thinking maybe getting back into reading would be a great step, the motivation issue interfere with that a bit, but I’ll make it happen soon enough


It has taken me 5 years of every day struggle and stubborness to get where I am today. I still have dificulty reading and sometimes expressing myself. I forget words. But my logic thinking is intact. I use my logic brain to manage life.

Keep using your brain, even when it’s hard. Never give up.

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Oh. Forgot. I’m on meds.

Meds won’t cause cognitive dysfunction. It’s a symptom of schizophrenia.

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When I go off my meds I have a lot of cognitive dysfunction and motivational problems.

When I’m on the right dose my mind is so much clearer.

Not saying that your symptoms need meds, but the problem is both too much medication or too little can cause your issues.

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I found Zyprexa to be somewhat dampening cognitively. The withdrawal was horrible. The worst parts were the appetite from hell, the explosive weight gain, and the diabetes it left me with. I understand there are treatment resistant people this med works for, but it should only ever be prescribed when everything else has failed. What a horrible, horrible drug.

I have regained the majority of cognitive function lost to SZ over the years by using the same strategies that those suffering brain injuries have used in terms of cognitive rehabilitation. I put some time aside every day for this.



It’s possible to recover cognitive function with brain training, see the 10 min clip below.

hi I was in the same situation after being on orlanzapine (zeprexa) and rispiradone for years i was confused all the time coudent thingk no emotion’s motivation libido I stopped cold turkey as you said first year is hard after a year I still was not much better so I started taking glicerine .'L’CARNITINE TARTRATE CARNITINE .DAA. DHEA HYBRID.2-(CARBAMIMIDOYL) AMINOJACATIC ACIDE ,CHOLINE.BETA ALANE. ACETYL L-CARNITINE. INOSITO L, PYRIDOXINE HCL AND LAST 1ML TESTORIONE ETHENATE WICH I TAKE ONCE EVERY 10 DAYS I FELT IMPROVMENT FROM THE START AFTER 3 WEEKS I HAD MOTIVATION ENERGY MY LABIDO WAS COMEING BACK FAST NOW AFTER 5 WEEKS I FEEL GOOD SOMTHING I HAVENT FELT IN YEARS BUT IT WORKS MY MIND IS SHARP AGAIN I DONT FEEL WEAK OR TIRED TRY IT IF YOU REALLY WANT IT BACK

Er… Easy on the ALL CAPS please?


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I’m very interested in improving cognitive functioning. I’ve been taking sarcosine daily now for a couple weeks, noticed an almost immediate effect but since have not noticed any noticable improvement. Just ordered another powder supplement, mix of supplements really, recomended for brain damage called BrainVitale and am anticipating it’s arrival. I know one of the prominent ingredients is Ginseng along with many other things. Also taking fish oil as of lately.

When they put me on Haldol I totally lost my ability to write. I was just existing, with no purpose or no reason to live. Then they reduced my dose, and I discovered that if I did large amounts of caffeine and ephedrine, and did a moderate plyometric workout, I could amp myself up pretty good. I stayed awake a whole week. Then I lost control and they put me in the hospital and started me on Zyprexa, which took care of my symptoms and wasn’t as hellish as Haldol, but it was till pretty numbing. A little while after that I was put on Geodon and Seroquel, and those drugs took care of my symptoms without the deadening effects of the other drugs. Geodon and Seroquel do weaken me physically, but I feel like I am sharp mentally. Personally, I’ve learned that I can’t make it without med’s. Every time I tried to quit it was a disaster.

I personally wouldn’t blame any cognitive functioning difficulties on medication apart from when I was on heavy doses of the typicals. Then it only really exacerbated an already present problem.
For me cognitive difficulties came more to the fore as I progressed through school ie going from an A/B student to a C/D one. Performance academically especially tailed off in what might be called the prodromal period or the period before first hospitalisation. There was a perfect storm of cognitive issues due to learning difficulties and cognitive issues relating from the illness process.
For me a primary area of problem is executive functioning ie organising and planning and dealing with multi step tasks . I also have a slow mental speed which means I take quite a lot of time to process and respond to information.
All of these problems were present before overt ,ie diagnosable, psychiatric symptoms.

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Eric Kandel (Nobelprize 2000) Lecture, ‘Molecular genetic and cognitive studies in schizophrenia’.

I think it is sometimes both, but I also think the cognitive impact of meds may be exaggerated in perception sometimes. The sedation that comes with many meds can impact cognition in terms of like, speed of processing or something, but again I think it’s the sedation as opposed to like, actually lowering one’s IQ or something. Trying to focus while very sedated will also be more challenging for most people. But this should mean that after relieving sedation, those particular issues should go away.

I do think I have lost intelligence over the years, and I do think it’s mostly from my mental health problems. Even psychological trauma (which happens a lot with psychosis) can make things worse. Example:

“Studies in PTSD are consistent with changes in cognition and brain structure. Multiple studies have demonstrated verbal declarative memory deficits in PTSD.” from

So I think if a med is very sedating, it can make things feel worse, but I don’t think meds cause permanent cognitive issues.