Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Second post March 29th, 2011 - Bipolar medications

I was doing some research or "reminders" about Bipolar disorder and I was reading the following medication guide from the Mayo Clinic. I do believe I have taken all of these at one time or another. Lithium and Depakote made it nearly impossible to lose weight, but extremely easy to gain weight. I stopped taking Lithium in January 2008 because I had lost so much weight in the hospital that the drug became toxic and I went into a month long total psychosis. I now take Lamictal for mood stablization, Lorazepam for anxiety, Seroquel as an anti-psychotic, and Hydroxyzine for anxiety. I took Effexor when my symptoms increased to the point where I had to seek help or get locked in a closet. It didn't work for me. I think it made things worse. I do not take anti-depressants. I'm Bipolar II so I need manic management more than depression.
My dosages are balanced enough to give help me controllable most of my mood swings without being tired all the time. I still have severe mood swings and bouts of anxiety, but the drugs do help. Actually, I am quite paranoid about life without these medications. 
The things that keep me somewhat stable are keeping busy, sleeping, exercising, meds, and a very supportive and wise wife. Without her and my boys I seriously doubt that I would be writing this right now.
Medications for bipolar disorder include:
  • Lithium. Lithium (Lithobid, others) is effective at stabilizing mood and preventing the extreme highs and lows of certain categories of bipolar disorder and has been used for many years. Periodic blood tests are required, since lithium can cause thyroid and kidney problems. Common side effects include tremor, weight gain and digestive issues.
  • Anticonvulsants. These mood stabilizing medications include valproic acid (Depakene), divalproex (Depakote) and lamotrigine (Lamictal). The medication asenapine (Saphris) may be helpful in treating mixed episodes. Depending on the medication you take, side effects can vary. Common side effects include weight gain, tremor and drowsiness. Rarely, certain anticonvulsants cause more serious problems, such as skin rashes, blood disorders or liver problems.
  • Antidepressants. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may or may not recommend you take an antidepressant. In some people with bipolar disorder, antidepressants can trigger manic episodes, but may be OK if taken along with a mood stabilizer. The most common antidepressant side effects include reduced sexual desire and problems reaching orgasm. Older antidepressants, which include tricyclics and MAO inhibitors, can cause a number of potentially dangerous side effects and require careful monitoring.
  • Antipsychotics. Certain antipsychotic medications, such as olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal) and quetiapine (Seroquel), may help people who don't gain benefits from anticonvulsants. Side effects depend on the medication, but can include weight gain, sleepiness, tremors, dry mouth, blurred vision and sexual side effects. Weight gain in children is a significant concern. Antipsychotic use may also affect memory and attention and cause involuntary facial or body movements.
  • Symbyax. This medication combines the antidepressant fluoxetine and the antipsychotic olanzapine - it works as a depression treatment and a mood stabilizer. Side effects can include weight gain, drowsiness, dry mouth, increased appetite and fatigue. This medication may also cause sexual problems similar to those caused by antidepressants.
  • Benzodiazepines. These anti-anxiety medications may help with anxiety and improve sleep. Examples include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium), chlordiazepoxide (Librium) and alprazolam (Xanax). Benzodiazepines are generally used for relieving anxiety only on a short-term basis. Side effects can include drowsiness, reduced muscle coordination, and problems with balance and memory.

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