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Beginign Lithium, any advice?
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Beginign Lithium, any advice?

I know that this question gets asked alot but I am about to swap meds again this time onto lithium. I understand that the first few months are quite difficult and was just wondering if i could hear a few of your experiences and is it as bad as i have heard?. Also would i find it difficult to work during this period?

Thanks

Tyronne
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212753_tn?1275076711
Hi tyronne,
I dont know your history but dont start the lithium it will damage your thyroid and other soft tissue organs. I am living proof.  I am thyroidless now and bi polar. Lithium if not monitered closely is toxic and there are many other meds that can work just.as well.
I for one take celexa and zyprexa . Bi polars should really be on a mood stabilizer as well as an anti depressant. One with out the other will tip you in the opposite direction and the key to managing bi polar is to be stable.

I personally hated being on the lithium.While I cant prove that the lithium damaged my thryroid , I do know I never had thyroid problems till afte my DX of bi polar and being put on lithium.

You shouldnt find it difficult to work but while everyone is different , it can take 4 -6 weeks  to feel the meds full effect.

While you are in the transition period do all you can to help your body adjust.
eat healthy, no caffiene or sugar as these 2 aggravate bi polar.
Get Regular sleep pattern.
Exercise at least 30 mins a day even if it is just a  brisk walk. This will help to even out your mood.

Therapy
and take your meds at the same time every day.
Routine is very important for a bi polar to establish. We tend to go through life flying by the seat of of our pants making poor decisions., that we regret later and put us in the yoyo that is bi polar.
Goolgle lthium and visti several different sites including the makers of lithium and the ones that will give you all the side effects and then make a judgemnt if lithium is right for you.
I know for me it was poisen but that is is my opinion.it works well for others quite well and I am sur there will be others posting later so you can get all sides of the lithium opinions.
Keep in touch and let us know wht you decid. We can help you through the adjustment period.
Love Venora
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Avatar_f_tn
I agree with Venora.  Lithium did no good for me -- caused me to gain a lot of weight, it gave me a horrible red and itchy rash, I was exhausted all the time -- I had my doc take me off it and will never take it again!  Now on Lamictal and Lexapro and it seems to be working for me.
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581210_tn?1220838380
I personally am not satisfied with lithium, but my cousin has been on it for 20 years with no problems and little adjustment.  Her mania was severe into delusions, so she was in the hospital for months until stable and has been good since.
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607502_tn?1288251140
Lithium has been around since the 1860's and seems to have more myths and lies associated with it than just about anything - its the favorite attack child of the current anti epileptic and anti psychotic drug makers because its generic (and this not patented and its cheap and thus not profitable for them - they would rather push their drugs which are patented and expensive)

First up - reality - Lithium on its own will not destroy your Thryoid - it can cause thryroid disfunction in some patients and has to be monitored by regular blood tests but to actually destroy a persons Thyroid would need severely high doses and no management or a damaged thryroid in the first place.

Secondly and sorry Venora but you do NOT need to be on an anti depressant as well as a mood stabiliser as a rule -  the blanket statement that a BP patient needs both is alarming and sounds like something straight out of the mouth of a psychiatrist with a script pad.

The use of AD drugs in BP and  BPII is not something that is neccesary for all or most patients and in the case of SSRI drugs like Prozac is something that can be dangerous in a decent segment of patients - Atypical Depression and AD drugs can be a recipe for disaster, i have scars from a suicide attempt to show you what Prozac is like to BPII's in some cases and it can and does cause suicide - you should never take a drug unless you really do need it - most of the most screwed up BP patients I have met or counselled are taking bipolar meds and **** like Xanax and Prozac - they have no emotional response left and are blunt and cannot get off the Anti Depressents and get better because they have destroyed any ability to experience normal emotions now.

Anti Depressants are the single most over prescribed drugs around and they are dangerous - you do not automatically need them if you are bi-polar you only need them if you have a depression problem and by that I mean severe clinical depression -you are much better of with therapy.

This is in fact where most of the problems come from - people who want drugs to fi everything and do not want therapy or to learn coping skills - this disease takes work, you MUST learn about yourself and it and what it does and how to manage it and you must have someone you can talk to. Therapy and support networks are vital.

Lithium is a commonly used drug because it is so very well understood - It has a huge list of side effects because its been around over a century however most users do not get these.  The one that you see most common is weight gain complaints and yet most of these people have normal thryoid function which is what causes weight gain in Lithium patients.  I suffer from very fine motor tremors and thirst, theyre common.

Key to lithium - Understand its interactions (they are very well know), Understand the importance of proper hydration (drink at least 2L of water a day) and understand that it is not a psychoactive - it blunts and helps control mood states but does not make you feel 'different' in your mind.

And yes it takes 4-6 weeks to work because its a lithium ion salt - it builds to a level in the bloodstream between .6 and 1.2 mmol +/litre of blood and needs to be checked regularly but it is a very safe drug.

Lithium is effective most in BPII and Mild BP1 suffereres - If you suffer from severe mania and delusions or psychotic episodes this is NOT the drug for you.

Lithium works for some people, it actually works for most people but there is a big disconnect between works and works - patients expect to "feel" different and Lithium isnt like that - But some people get side effects, most mild, some severe.  You need to manage any drug you take and watch the side effects and they ALL have them - Olanzapine for example has the same side effects in some cases and can be far more severe as its an anti psychotic and ironically it causes more weight gain than Lithium ever did along with issues with insulin uptake and may lead to diabetes in sensitive cases.

Sorry if i have been a bit less than clear here or had a go at anyone - im manic a bit myself right now :(  The points about structure, exercise, plan and schedules and most vital - you need them along with being honest with yourself, your friends and your family.
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222267_tn?1253305810
Lithium has worked wonders for me.  I am BP1 rapid cycler.  I also take Lamictal, Klonopin (as needed) and a very low dose of Wellbutrin.  It took a very long time for me to find the right combination but I think I finally have.  I was hospitalized several times last November and January.  Once I started the Litium I did a complete turn around.   I do have side effects though.  Dry, brittle hair that makes it fall out, diarhea (diarrhea), mild memory problems, thirst (which is good because I drink lots of water), I crave sugar.   Hope that helps
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561706_tn?1333950874
I have been on Lithium for the past three years since a severe/psychotic manic episode put me in a hospital. I have used it before, but I forget if I was on it before that hospitalization (I've given up trying to keep track).

I have had no problems with it. At first, I had the terrible thirst and tremors, but haven't had those symptoms for a long time. I also don't feel "blunted" as I've heard many people say.  I have been depressed for a while, and that has had it's effect, but I never felt like Li was changing my personality.

Currently I take Seroquel (250 mg), Li (1200 mg), Lamictal (400) and Prozac (20).  I just recently started the Prozac and my suicidal thoughts have gone away, which is miraculous.  But I'm still not on the top of my game.

So basically, I intend to stay on the Li for now.  I believe it is working in concert with my other meds.  I've been stable for three years.

Do the research and make your own decision.  Just wanted to let you know that I didn't have a "terrible time" going on it.
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Avatar_m_tn
hi:: i been on it for about 6 weeks now..i haven't experienced anything..mabey at times and very little i get a shake in my hands..if thats even one..cuz i do have anxiety's..ive always wondered why i wasent getting any at all..NOW TAKE MY ADVICE DRINK ALOT OF FLUIDS..AND IF YOU SWEAT ALOT THEN REPLACE THE LOST SALT..CUZIF UR VSALT LEVEL GOES DOWN THEN THE LITIEM LEVEL GOES UP..and get ur lab work done i think after ur stable on it..then you go every 3 monthes..it works for me..but i seem like i could be alot better..my level last week was 0.8..good luck too you friend
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645306_tn?1223784868
I am Bipolar and take 1200 mg of Lithium and 30mg of Wellbuterin along with 1mg of Xanax a day.  I have been manic for the past 4 months.  My memory is failing, I am wanting to run around and party, I don't clean, cook, I either want to sleep all the time, or not at all. I hardly eat.  I have been to the doctor several times over this, he changes my meds except for my Lithium which he keeps me on but keeps increasing.  I even went into the office without making an appt. I was so freaking out.  This is not like me....and I cannot stand it. It's like I was better before I even started taking the Lithium, but dr. says he doesn't want to take me off of it. I am just at my witts end....and my husband is getting sick of it too, even though he has been the best husband through this...I have been to the lab for all the thyroid panels, etc. and everything comes back normal.  I quit smoking, drink more water than I ever have.  I don't know... I am lost...and don't know what to do.  I hate feeling this way.
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599945_tn?1240385954
i've been on lithium for over two months now and only side effect is a very fine tremor in my hands. i always take it at the same time and when i recently experienced some memory loss we lowered the dost from 1200 to 1000 and i think will go down to 800. it seems to work best for me with zyprexa (strict diet watch on this one!) and klonopin (rivotril here) as needed. i try to eat something light about half an hour before taking lithium and maybe a couple of grapes after taking it and have no nausea. if you develop nausea just ask your doc for an anti-nausea pill until it passes. have not had any real benefits from lithium although my brain has been a little clearer since yesterday. sometimes it can take up to six months for benefits of lithium to be felf, hang in there and give it a chance. blood work needs to b e done once/week at start and then it can be spaced out once you reach therapeutic levels. hope this helps you. oh yeah as monkey said, drink 2litres of water every day because it does have an impact on your kidneys and there is some thirst. lots of liquids takes care of this.
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605458_tn?1265086851
Will you be taking regular Lithium or a sustained-release form?
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645306_tn?1223784868
I take Lithium Carbonate CAAPO I think it's the extended-release form.  I have been on my Lithium for almost a year.  I think I need to be on something else.  And, yes you must drink lots of liquids.  I get thirsty all the time.  I guess I am going to ask the doctor to change my dosage, maybe that will help with my memory loss.  
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605458_tn?1265086851
I have been on Lithobid (sustained release) for years. I don't drink a lot of liquids. All of my levels have been within range and I have never had symptoms of toxicity.
When I took Lithium in its regular release form, I got severe symptoms before I hit a therapeutic dose. Tremors, nausea. It wasn't until the sustained release form came out years later that I was able to try it again. No side effects at all.
So, if you are taking regular Lithium and getting unpleasant side effects, it might be worth your while to ask your doctor about the sustained release.
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607502_tn?1288251140
Ive taken it for over 2 years and I have very little side effects, muscle tremors only and mild ones.  Hydration is vital and so is proper communication with your doctor.

It sounds to Jolaney like you are manic and thus you need to adjust your dose, what is important are you levels - if you are not sitting around 0.8mmol or there about mania is more pronounced.
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599945_tn?1240385954
am on sustained release lithium (priadel) and am now down to 800mg which leaves my mind much clearer, i can read more than a paragraph again and remember the words for things! my daughter thought it hilarious when i couldn't think of the word for fridge! the new combo of zyprexa, rivotril (klonopin) finally seems to be working and im feeling better for the first time in a year. That has been the longest bout of being down and below down in thirty years. def worth sticking with trying different med combinations to find one that works.
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4275124_tn?1352068421
I feel for you and do not know what to so other than be patient and do your best to listen to your doctor.  Lithium has incredible stabilizing effects, which is probably why he wants you to stay on.  I have BP and have had to do lot of praying over the years.  It is not an easy illness to live with.
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Avatar_f_tn
hi i am bipolar aswell. i was on lithium but stopped taking it because of the side effects. i was on it for two years. like JST4SHANELL i to lost alot of hair. it became so brittle alot just broke off. it was about armpit length and had to get it cut to color bones. if you care about your hair dont go on this drug. it does control moods well but i guess you have to way up the side effects vs the benifits. i am on seroquel xr and normal seroquel. the xr works quite well to control moods.
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