So, my psychiatrist is thinking that bipolar disorder is a definite possibility for me. She's also thinking that taking lithium would be a good idea for me in order to stabilize my mood swings (especially mania because of frequent episodes of psychosis). My mother isn't so sure about letting me take ANY sort of medication no matter what it's for, but I'm still undecided. My father just wants me to be stable, so it's my mother's choice. I just want to know what other people think of lithium for bipolar disorder, especially in a 16 year old girl and it would be very helpful if people could post some of their own experiences with lithium.
(Also, my doctor was thinking that some sort of sleeping pill would be good for me to try because I suffer from insomia. I get about 6 hours of sleep if i'm lucky because I wake up a lot and have trouble falling asleep, and during depressive episodes I tend to wake up around 5 and not fall back asleep. Any thoughts?)
Well I haven't taken lithium in a long time but the way it works and the follow up is the same. Basically it is the mood stabilizer used as a first choice because it is the only mood stabilizer that was specifically developed for this purpose:
It takes a certain amount of time for lithium to build up to a proper blood level (which would differ as regards age and weight variation, you could ask your psychiatrist more about that). As well there are monthly blood tests done for specific side effects and this needs to be followed up on. Proper hydration is necessary so drinking water at regular intervals is essential. There are some side effects that a person can encounter right away such as some cognitive blunting that should improve in time. Generally you will experience some helpful effects at first but not completely until it builds up to a proper blood level which your psychiatrist would determine.
As for the idea of a sleeping pill you could ask your psychiatrist more about this as if insomnia is caused by the sleep disruptions that are typical of moodswings then it might improve as you start treatment. I know for myself and some other people that the sleep aide Rozerem which is an FDA approved medication which works clinically in the same manner as melatonin to adjust the sleep cycle and is safe and non addictive was of help so you could ask your psychiatrist about that but often as mood stabilizers are initiated and adjusted that can sometimes stabilize sleep disruptions on their own but you could ask your psychiatrist more about that.
Well this reputed psychiatrist who uploads videos to youtube (who's not that well known on there yet) praises lithium like it's a god send for bipolar disorder. I can't give you any information on personal experience as I've never taken it myself however. ILADVOCATE wrote everything else I could of wrote on it.
I am supposed to be taking lithium, but I have a lot of financial troubles so I'm on hold currently. This was the regular lithium, old school, $4 Rx. But, I started out taking 300 mg. daily and then up to 600 mg. daily. On 300 mg. after about 3 weeks of taking it without a single break, I had about a 2 week period of relief. But, then I started cycling again. 3 months later I went up to 600 mg. and I did that for about a month and then I went to see my doctor. My levels were good so he changed my dosing times, amount, and type of lithium.
This is the lithium extended release. I was to take 600 mg. in the morning and 600 mg in the evening for a total of 1200 mg. (Previously I was taking it before bed so he was saying it was working mostly when I was sleeping, which didn't help me at all.) Okay, well this lithium is more expensive and although for most people it wouldn't seem that way, but for me it is. He also wanted me to go in weekly for blood test to make sure my levels stayed good. That was fine, I can go in for blood test for free.
This is when it went downhill. So I kept forgetting to take it because I have a lot of problems with that. It threw off my routine to change my dosing time. So, I also take my birthcontrol pill at bed time, but since I wasn't taking my lithium and I got thrown off and forgot to take any medication for 4 days! (Including birth control pill.) One side effect of lithium is not to take it period if pregnant or chance of pregnancy, especially early on. So, I had to stop taking it until my cycle ended as a precaution. I wasn't pregnant, so I got back into the swing of things with my birth control but I keep forgetting my lithium. My doctor said not to come back for a blood test until I could remember to take the full dose for 7 days, well that hasn't happened. So anyway, I'm not on my lithium now because of all these things and I'm annoyed.
Anyway, the reasons I like lithium are:
1) Low side effects, only real issue is you need to stay hydrated because it can be hard on your kidneys. So you want to drink lots of water all the time. The side effects I had were it made me thirsty all the time and have to use the bathroom all the time and a slight tremor to my hands, but not annoying or unmanageable.
2) It has been around a long, long time so they know a lot about it and how it will effect you in 10, 20, 30 years vs. some newer meds where they have no idea.
3) It is the only medication specifically made and used for bipolar so if you can take it and it works, that makes it easy.
4) You can get it for $4 if you get the regular and not extended release.
Things that I don't like about it
1) You do need to keep up on your blood tests until you are stable on your theraputic dose.
Uhm, that's it. :D
Just so you know, if you have bipolar it is biochemical so if a medication will help you, then it is worth it to be stable. I wish at 16 I had known I was bipolar and in treatment. My life was derailed by my illness and I didn't even know I had an illness although I knew something was wrong. I feel if I had at least been in treatment perhaps I wouldn't be as poor as I am now at least because I wouldn't have dropped out of school and job hopped. All of those things happened during mania and depression, but instead of treatment everyone just told me I was worthless and lazy. So, you're not! You're a great person and you can succeed in life! Never forget that!
First of all, thank you all for your advice, your encouragement, and your information. It really is very helpful! I think after hearing what eveypne has to say, I am going to talk to my psychiatrist and my parents again. Perhaps trying lithium would be good for me. It seems to bet overall pretty safe, and I am well informed of side effects. The fact that it has been available for so many years and therefore is well researched also makes me feel much better about it. And since I don't plan on getting pregnant anyone soon, that should not be an issue for a while. Again, thank you everyone. I really appreciate the input!
I have had fairly good luck with a combination of Lithium and Seroquel. The Lithium for mood stabilization, and the Seroquel to help with sleeping. The latter is, of course, not a sleeping pill, but an antipsychotic that doubles as a very effective sleep aid.
You could ask your p-doc if this would be right for you.
Lithium is a good first medication to try for bipolar disorder. It can be really helpful in treating acute manic episodes as well as maintenance treatment to prevent manic episodes from recurring. A lot of people have had great success with it, but keep in mind that every individual is going to respond to medication differently. What works for one person might not work at all for another. Additionally, Lithium can have some unpleasant side effects, but again, each individual is going to have a different experience. When I was on Lithium, I had barely any side effects, besides an occasional light tremor. I was careful to not drink alcohol while on it, although that was also so that it wouldn't throw my mood off balance as well. It also gave me an excuse to drink a lot of Gatorade, my doctor's suggestion...
As for the sleep problems, Seroquel, the drug the poster above suggested, can definitely be helpful, and it is now widely prescribed as a sleep aid. However, as an anti-psychotic it has some troubling side effects. There are other options to help with sleep, such as non-benzodiazepine hypnotics (Ambien, Sonata, etc.), but again, these all have their drawbacks as well. Just talk to your doctor about his/her thoughts on the best way to treat your particular symptoms, and do as much research as you can about any and all medications you're prescribed so that you know what to avoid and what to expect. Good luck!
it worked well for me 6 monthes then had to gt off of it...but its a great mood stabilizer!!! i never gained any weight some do..so tell ur mom or dad we on here have taking this..and its like anyother med any meds have side effects...
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