this is your brain on lithium

the mitigated musing of a mad-woman



Lithium is a non-addictive, mood-leveling poison ; naturally occurring alkali metal used in very small doses to mitigate the more extreme thoughts and behaviors that occur in psych patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder (manic depression). Precisely how it works is still unknown, and what is known involves a lot of neuro-bio-chemical stuff involving all sorts of impressive-sounding names, the exact function of which are still very poorly (if at all) understood by neuroscientists.

Upon ingestion, lithium becomes widely distributed in the central nervous system and interacts with a number of neurotransmitters and receptors, decreasing norepinephrine release and increasing serotonin synthesis.
. . . . . .
The precise mechanism of action of Li+ as a mood-stabilizing agent is currently unknown.—Wikipedia, “Lithium pharmacology

It is also used to treat a few other disorders and diseases, including antidepressant-resistant unipolar depression.

Lithium is actually a soft metal, first discovered in 1817 and first isolated in its pure form in 1818. Lithium salts naturally occurring in springs were used to treat mental disorders at least as early as AD 200 by the Greek physician Galen (or Soranus of Ephesus, not sure). Lithium was approved by the US FDA for use in the treatment of manic depression in 1970 and is still administered as medication in the form of lithium carbonate or lithium citrate. Interestingly, it was in using lithium carbonate as a substitute for table salt that the lethality of higher doses of lithium was discovered.

It wasn’t until the late 19th century that the medical benefits of lithium were rediscovered. Carl Lange and William Alexander Hammond (independently) began looking into lithium as a treatment for illnesses they believed to be caused by an excess of uric acid. When they observed that lithium calmed excitable patients, they began to use it to treat mania.

But it’s John Cade who is credited with the “discovery” of lithium’s effect on mania. In 1949, he published the first paper on the use of lithium as a psychiatric drug. The irony is that he was also operating under the (false) theory that mania was caused by an excess of urea. But, hey, he published the paper, so he gets all the credit.

Lithium on the Brain

A recent UCLA study finds that lithium therapy actually increases grey matter in the areas needed for attention and controlling emotions:

“Although other studies have measured increases in the overall volume of the brain,” Bearden said, “this imaging method allowed the researchers to see exactly which brain regions were affected by lithium.”
. . . . . .
“Unfortunately,” said Bearden, “there is no evidence that the increase in gray matter persists if lithium treatment is discontinued.”

This is where I found the link to this study.

And here is the main page of that site.

My Experience

It’s been a little more than a year now since I switched from lithium to Lamictal to control my mood swings. So far, so good. I am alert, productive, and think clearly on most days. Of course I still have ups and downs in response to various stressors, and until now have not really been able to read anything terribly complicated (like philosophy or serious history) or write anything at all (as you might notice from the entry dates on this blog). But much of that is because of my own stubbornness in refusing to seek treatment, in the form of not wanting to try to find a new psychiatrist even though I was on the depressed side of things.

The switch from lithium to a different mood stabilizer seems common, with lithium being the drug of first choice to quell the turmoil during a severe episode or at the very beginning of treatment for those who have only recently been diagnosed. Most patients begin a different drug regimen once the severe symptoms subside, switching to the newer alternative medications to avoid the long-term side-effects possible with lithium.

Unfortunately, to many people (probably most) the use of lithium is still controversial and stigmatized. It still conjures horrific images of crazy people in asylums and patients becoming zombies, but it is still the most effective mood stabilizer out there. The psychiatric profession, bowing to the pressures of common misconceptions, the ignorance of non-specialists, and the interests of the pharmaceutical industry, avoided its use once alternatives were developed. Medical research concentrated on the risks and disadvantages of taking lithium and touted the miraculous results in studies of the newer drugs.

But problems with the newer medications began to surface over time. The alternatives to lithium span from anti-seizure drugs to atypical anti-psychotics, the use of which was (and still is in some cases) a so-called “off-label” use, a practice that can present ethical issues. But in most cases, the drugs used are widely accepted alternatives, and they are effective and safe.

Lithium does have some serious side-effects, and the blood lithium levels of those who take the drug must be closely monitored. However, many of the side-effects of other medications used as mood stabilizers are just as harmful and inconvenient as those of lithium, and can also result in death in the case of overdose. And, while the effects of the long-term use of lithium can be scary, there is very little research on the effects of long-term use of alternatives because the medications have not been in use long enough to know what they might be.

Psych patients should be closely monitored regardless of the medication used, and each individual will respond differently to each medication. Some mood stabilizers make some people anxious, some drowsy, some forgetful, some even drool, along with the more serious effects like seizures or deadly rashes (seriously, Lamictal can cause both). Others may work wonders for some, but not at all for others. The therapeutic processes of mood stabilizers is less understood for other psychiatric medications than for lithium. In fact, because of lithium’s age, its effects on the brain and body are better known.

There is no debate that much more is known about lithium than its alternatives. Its use is once more the first choice in treatment of bipolar disorder, and is now often used to compliment SSRIs, especially in the treatment of drug-resistent unipolar depression. Again, it is unfortunate that there is still a stigma attached to the drug and those who use it.

One of the comments on this blog is, “lithium is crap- every person on it is a guinea pig” The fact of the matter is that any and all psych patients are guinea pigs, their own if they refuse treatment, and society’s no matter which medicine they take or treatment they accept.


When I was on lithium, I felt like my brain had been wrapped in a layer of cotton. Nothing really got through without being completely toned down, which is somewhat the point, but there is a very delicate balance. In one of her books, Kay Redfield Jamison says that she basically stays on the smallest dose that is effective for her. But she also says that because she takes the minimum, she does have small relapses.

It was because of lithium’s brain-dulling quality that got off of it and onto Lamictal. I was on Lamictal alone for a couple of years, then when my doc tried to up my dose, my body completely freaked out and I ended up in the ER. Overall, Lamictal never really worked as well as lithium. Now I’m on both lithium and Lamictal, and it seems to be working really well. The lithium/Lamictal combination seems to be a pretty popular one right now (in vogue in psychiatric circles), and I do think it might be a good one.


April 7, 2012 at 2:26 am e
Dear Commenters,

I just wanted to let you know that I have temporarily disallowed new comments. The title of the page is “Lithium,” and while most of you are limiting your comments to that topic and your experiences with lithium and other prescription psych meds as well as a discussion of bipolar disorder, manic-depression, and uni-polar depression, some recent comments have veered off in a direction with which I am not comfortable. Self-medication, religion, and anti-prescription drug messages are not welcome topics here.

I am happy that so many people have found my blog a forum for sharing their experiences, and I would like to continue to provide that space. It seems, however, that it is time to put a stop to both my laziness and the distracting comments and start moderating the discussion. Therefore, I am taking this opportunity to unapprove several of comments that I feel uncomfortable with.

Yes, this is censorship. No, I am not violating your First Amendment rights, as I am not the government. Yes, this is a (semi)public forum; however, it is only as public as my front yard. I am responsible for the content, and I prefer not to have weeds growing in it.

I intend to open commenting back up once I have cleaned things up a bit. Sorry for the inconvenience.

The Moderator


Comments are enabled again.

Aug. 8, 2012
I’m sorry for the backlog of comments, but I got a little disgusted with the alternative medicine, “medical cannabis” crowd, then I went on a little soma holiday (avoidance accomplished by refusal to get out of bed and deal with anything).

I’m sorry, really, because there are finally some good comments again.

279 Responses to “Lithium”

  1. Ramona Butler said

    Have been taking lithium for five year. I am very pleased with it except not being able to lose weight. I went off it once and was so extremely depressed that I did not know it was possible to become so depressed. I tried to commit suicide.

  2. Pam Stimmler said

    Ramona- I TOTALLY agree.. I’ve had bipolar disorder since I was 17. I tried Lamictal and I feel it didn’t work at all. I became so depressed I couldn’t function..Exactly like you said, I didn’t think it was possible to become that depressed. So, back on reliable Lithium, feeling better. I know there can be negative long term affects, but we have to do what’s best for us now.

    • Meru said

      Hi Pam i have been taking lithium since more than 10 years and by the god’s grace in very much better.i did experience manic episodes coz of discontinuity due to my carelessness.Please let me know wht kinda negative long term effects one can have .

    • B. Stradley said

      Hi guys, what scares me about lithium is that serious kidney problems can happen very fast and never go away. A friend of mine’s uncle has been on dialysis for quite a while now, not looking good at all, and it’s because he took lithium as directed under the care of his doctor. So many things we eat or drink can affect the natural lithium levels in our own blood, added to the pill form, which in turn can lead to toxicity that’s permanent despite regular lab tests. i wish you the very, very best. but for me i’m leaving my brand new prescription bottle of lithium sealed shut (i actually taped it shut too so i don’t accidentally mistake it for something else). i’d rather endure the bipolar than spend another 15 years letting doctors try me on more scary pills (and combinations of pills) they call “medicine”. I’ve also always been very sensitive about my weight (seroquel added nearly 90lbs!) and my understanding is that Lithium often causes significant gain. I understand wanting to do what’s best for you for now, i really do. but personally i’m not willing to risk kidney failure. fighting that condition would make me even more manic and depressed.

      • Denise B. said

        Hi Stradley, How are you doing now? What amount did you take,if I may ask, and how are you doing without it?
        I wish you the very best, and hope you are well. DB

        • Sarah said

          Hi Stradley, I’m very sensitive to all medications, including over-the-counter. I always take half the recommended dose of everything – or buy the children’s version – and that’s always enough. On top of that I had adverse reactions to three atypicals. And at 5’4″ and 140 lbs., I’m not an unusually small person. So I too am wondering what dose you were on and what your blood level was on that dose. I’d like to take a medication but am very, very concerned about long-term side effects given my sensitivity. Thanks!

      • Karen said

        I take over the counter Lithium Orotate because I have done reserch and find no evedience of damage to kidneys like the prescription Lithium Carbonate.

        • Des said

          what is the amount of llithium in these ver the counter things?

        • Bruce B said

          Hi kiddo…just started taking lithium aspartate (orotate is much more expensive), otc.. Has it worked for you (recommended dosage on otc bottle), as a mood stabilizer…? I appreciate your’ reply.


  3. angela said

    I just started taking 900MG of Lithium a day. My Dr. seemed to think I should be taken off of the xanax ( that worked fine for me ) and put me on this drug. I hate switching meds. Has anyone else ever switched from xanax to lithium? If so, did it have the same affect? Please , I need info!

    • christine gordon said

      My daughter is bi polar and was hospitalized for extremem mania. She is 18 now and 16 at the time. They put her on Lithium and she had an immediate wonderful response. She was able to leave the hospital within weeks.
      Xanax is for anxiety. Lithium for bi polar.
      Xanax is very addictive so dr.s do not like long term use.
      My daughters anxiety left her when she was on the lithium. In her case
      the affects of the lithium helped her with her anxiety. This is all she is
      on and she is doing incredibly. Good luck! Tina

      • Meru said

        Hi christine im meru and i was prescribed lithium when i was 16 which is 10 years back from now and being taking it coz of discontinuity of the medicine coz of my carelessness.Could u please let me know wht kinda negative side effects one can have if its taken for long and is Bipolar curable without medicines means will i lead a life free from medicines once again.I got Bipolar coz of weed which i tried with my friends in my childhood.Thanks for your time and good luck for Tina
        Hope to see your reply soon :)

        • Sher said

          Hi Meru, I’m Sher…I am 60yrs old and have been on Lithium for 10 yrs now, 600mgs a day..Bi-Polar is usually caused by a traumatic event happening in your life which can also lead to a Mental Breakdown, depending on the person. It can also be hereditary hence the Manic Depression..I take Lithium twice a day and a Xanax at night to help calm my racing mind..I also smoke Medicinal Canabis at bedtime,,These three help to put the chemical imbalance in my brain back into sync and keep me level altho I still have dips of depression at times..

  4. nicole vega said

    im 15 and i have been studying lithium and its uses for a while i think its fascinating. i wish to become a physiatrist when im older. I wish all of you the best.

    • Lora hodges said

      Thank you for this uncommonly thorough commentary on lithium! I was prescribed Lithium recently and have been very stressed about it. Acknowledging the risks with alternative options has helped ease my mind. Also the history of it was helpfully :). I also have some attention deficit issues and PTSD and am concerned that all the symptoms can easily be confused so I’m hoping Lithium will be positive for those issues. If you are familiar with this topic, I’d love your input. If not, thanks for all you have done!

  5. Renee said

    I have been on lithium for 21 years. I progressed up to 900 mg about 6 years ago. Several years ago I tried to lower the dose and had major problems. I took Lamictal for about 6 years but my knee joints began to hurt and I discontinued it. I also have been on Ritalin and then Concerta when it came out for 21 years. I have searched for info on long-term use of these drugs and aging bipolar/ADHD. Not much luck.

    I would be interested in hearing about other long-term lithium users.

    Take care.

    • i have been on lithium for 25years. ialso take nardil iwas really poorly until put on these drugs/ doctor said i would relapse if i came off them. ihave afew side affects butiwould rather feel well.

    • Becky said

      How do you know the Lamictal caused the knee joint pain? My husband has been on Lithium for 23 years, 1200 mg each day, Lamictal added about 4 years ago for the “lows” that came during the winter. NO other meds like Ritalin and Concerta.

    • Deborah Marmo said

      Hi, I have been on lithium carbonate since 1978. Gave birth to my daughter and few days later, cried and cried uncontrollably and between doctors etc. was put on so many drugs and none worked ecept lithium. I call it my happy pill because it did wonders for me. Still on it but recently had a little setback so my lithium was raised to 900 mg a day but not so good still and am waiting to hear my lithium level before doctor raises it again but all in all lithium is great.

      • diane said

        I believe that psychiatrists are just trying to find a disorder so they can make a profit along with the drug companies. The drugs make me hallucinate and go nuts. I was great before going to the dr.

        • B. Stradley said

          Diane, i feel the same way! i was 18 when alarmist docs started throwing every SSRI they could find at me over the next 12+ years, plus SNRIs, mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics, etc. I often wish i’d never gone in 1998. that was a time of a huge surge in over-prescribing trendy and new “anti-depressants” and the rest and half of my friends from college have as many horror stories and regrets as i do. if my family read this reply they’d assume that i’m manic. but these days they won’t let me smile or joke without freaking out that i’m dangerously manic, nor can i frown without them jumping to the conclusion that i’m horribly depressed. ironic, as they’re the paranoid ones. my family keeps trying to push me to take different meds, but they’ve never taken them themselves and have no idea what it feels like to on such things. same is true for most doctors who prescribe these medications. all they really know is what they’ve read in text books and been told. I don’t like being told to take a pill my doctor says he swears by but he himself would never dare take.

          • S. Duzenelli said

            What was the reason you went to the doctor in the first place? I am curious because I had a very hard time accepting therapeutic drug treatment despite taking myself to the doctor when I was 16 and felt that something was wrong and worried that I was depressed, not angsty, I did not feel like myself. My doctor did not respond as a good doctor ought to, she was skeptical of me and rather than ask me what was going on gave me a photocopy of a depression survey and sent me on my way with out asking me in person what was going on. I have a hard time trusting doctors as well but want to for my sake and that of my friends and family get a handle on myself. It wasn’t until I became very, very depressed at 23 (after some wonderful albeit stressful life experiences) that I succumbed to the idea of chemical imbalance/hereditary mental illness and began taking lithium, 900mg daily. I still have doubts about how this medication affects me but have experience periods of stability while on it, stability that is verified by the people closest to me.

    • Eddy said

      I have been on lithium for 12 years and am told I will allways be on it for life.. I was a paramedic front line ambulance for 20 years and after a breakdown was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder,
      I take duloxitne, diazepam as and when needed and 15 mg of zopiclone at night without which I cant sleep. I take 1200mg priadel at night and at one time I was on 1400mg.
      My PTSD wasn’t so much caused by the sights that I saw but the emotions of other people and I found it impossible to not get affected, I hope this is of some interest to you and others.
      I still have ups and downs, uncontrollable crying episodes etc but there are others worse than me.

      • B. Stradley said

        i find it very, very interesting, Eddy. I have to be brief for now, but there’s something about my sense of empathy for others suffering (all ages and conditions) that hits me really hard and can give me spasms and more. it’s like being able to really feel things from other people’s perspectives, and especially in a traumatic situation it’s as if their pain, fear, frustrations, etc. hit my heart, body and soul like bolts of lightning. i get crying/weeping spells from it too. sometimes for a couple seconds, sometimes longer…

        • Angela Porreca said

          Ok…finally the first description I really understand! I have been reading all evening and most of the info refers to Lithium as a mood stabilizer and bipolar medication. What does this exactly mean? Tonight I have been prescribed Lithium by my therapist. I was just telling her that I feel like a psychic sponge often times having more compassion for others than I do myself. Lots of crying, bursts of anger which I disquise well as humor. I’m at an eleven when I need to be at a four:) So my search for just the right chemical cocktail continues. Ok lithium work your magic! I hope everyone has a peaceful evening,

          • Sherry H. said

            It’s great to hear that there are others out there who have lived the same experience. I too have felt like an emotional sponge. It has created so much turmoil inside me over the years. I knew I was suffering from depression, anxiety disorder, etc., but I never really suspected biopolar. I was finally diagnosed in December 11 and since starting Lithium I feel ‘normal’ (if that really exists) for the first time in my adult life. I’m not suggesting that it’s a magic pill that has made everything perfect…I’ve still got a long way to go, but I can say with 100% certainty that without it I would not be posting a comment here, or anywhere, ever again. Good luck to Angela and all on this journey.

        • Denise B. said

          You are connected, we are all connected. I relate to your feeling of someones pain. Because you care, you have a heart. i hope you are well now, and that this finds you in a peaceful place. I too take lithium er 450mg per day.
          Remember, it is ok to cry, on the other side of sadness , is joy. Thank you for reaching out. Denise Wyoming

          • Irene Phillips said

            I have been taking lithium ER 450mg twice a day for almost 25 years. Last year I noticed hardly any leg hair, now none. My legs itch a lot & I have a rash from my ankles to about an inch up my legs. My internal medicine doctor & dermatoligist , sorry, have no idea what is causing these things. My Psycharists ? does not know the cause either. I am very afraid someday all this lithium will be my cause of death. I am told to keep taking it.
            Lithium does not mix well with many other medications I have to be very careful. God bless & good luck to all who MUST take any form of lithium.

  6. CC said

    I took Lamictal and had terrible nightmares on it. Felt like I would jump out of my own skin, at times. The higher the dose, the worse my response. Went back down to 100mg Lamictal, added 25mg Seroquel and had better results. No longer on Lamictal but feeling the need to get back on a medication. Not sure I can handle the weird and upsetting dreams on Lamictal, however…

  7. Pythia said

    Well, I’m still on 150mg Lamictal and 300mg lithium and doing rather well. (Funny how I stop posting when I feel better.) I think since the last update (might be a good idea to put a date on the updates–commenting might work better) I switched from I don’t remember what to 100mg Wellbutrin, and then about three months ago, went up to 150 mg on that, which is working great. Oh, and something that is really helpful is that my doctor is ok with me taking extra lithium (only another 300mg–doubling up the dose) when I need it. “When I need it” is when I start staying up all night, bouncing off the walls, suddenly become the best poet ever, or just really wound up and anxious–but mostly for the last. I much prefer taking an extra dose of lithium for a few days to doping myself up with Xanax or its friends. Yes, my mind still goes fuzzy, and I kind of get holes in my mind, but that goes away when I go back to the regular dose, and, more importantly, it works so much better. It’s like the difference between taking aspirin for a tension headache and getting a neck massage to make the headache actually go away.

    CC, if you haven’t tried lithium, you might want to, just to see how you react to it, see if it helps. From what I’ve read and from my own experience, Lamictal works ok as a maintenance medication; in other words, it works best once you’ve gotten the symptoms under control with another med first, but it sounds like the side-effects are a little much for you anyway. As for Seroquel, when I took Seroquel, I literally could not get out of bed, because I couldn’t stay awake long enough to put my feet on the floor. It was bad. That said, I have a very successful, university-professor friend for whom it works wonders. You just have to find what works for you. Unfortunately, you have to become your own chemistry experiment (and your doctor’s) to do so.

    • Brooke said

      When I tried Seroquel I got heart palpitations, blurry vision, and could barely make words…I would sit silent for a solid 2 or 3 minutes trying to form one effing sentence. Also, other than feeling stoned off my ass, it didn’t calm down my hypomania one bit. I just got off it and am still on 150mg of Lamictal and bouncy as a Tigger. I have been doing 4 things at once and accidentally creating songs at the same time. Making up lyrics and melodies without being consciously aware of doing so is odd…especially since I haven’t done anything musical in years…My psych said if the hypomania doesn’t abate soon that she wants to try me on lithium or depakote…the depakote side effects sound terrifying. Has anyone here been on it?

      • B. Stradley said

        what if the songs you make up are beautiful? if you’re really not feeling well when having that they’re calling “hypomanic” episodes, than of course look for solutions. but my experience is leading me further away from prescriptions. next time a doctor tries to insist i take another psychiatric med, i’m going to insist that they go first. i’ve been on more than enough Rx’s over more than enough time to have earned my opinion through personal experience putting this junk in my body. it makes me so numb, and that’s not life. i’d rather have some nasty bouts and power through them then become a lab rat again.

  8. sarah said

    My mum has been taking lithium since she was 16 after being diagnosed with bi-polar!

    She was very slim when she was younger but has put on a lot of weight in her early 20’s and never lost it. she never tries to lose it and swims and everthing but is still overweight!

    could this be down to taking lithium?

    • Pythia said

      Sarah, my guess is yes. That is one of the side-effects. I hadn’t been able to lose the weight I had put on until I started taking Wellbutrin (bupropion)in addition to the lithium.

      • Danni said

        Pythia, I’ve looked for awhile now and you are the first person to say you are taking Wellbutrin with Lithium. I am too! Would you mind telling me your doses, because I’m about to see the P-Doc again and I want the Wellbutrin dose increased if possible. They wanted to try me on Cymbalta but I’m not in agreement with that. Anyhow, I’m taking 900mg Lithium and 350mg of Wellbutrin. Thanks!

        • Pythia said

          Danni, I started a reply to this a month ago and never finished it. The reason for that? It might have something to do with discontinuing Wellbutrin for a couple of months… Short version: they’ve worked well together for me for several years at Wellbutrin XL 300mg and lithium 300mg, well enough to keep me stable, but not well enough to keep me fully functional (I have a part-time job). Hope that helps and it’s not too late to be useful. Just ask if you want more detail–it’s halfway written in a text file on my desktop.

      • B. Stradley said

        Wellbutrin filled me with a rage that got deeper and darker and far less stable every day i took it. after 1 week i quit it and got my mind back.

      • rls714 said

        Wellbutrin put me over the edge on 900 mgs of lithium per day. Just an FYI on the wellbutrin.

  9. David said

    I am a very competitive triathlete racing at international amateur level from Olympic Distance (two hours duration) up to Ironman distance. I have been diagnosed in Australia having moderate severe bi-polar disorder and have been suggested to use lithium. I am deeply concerned about its obvious side-effects and its potential effects on my training and races.
    Can anybody comment or help in my decision making please?
    Heres hoping…

    • Tricia said

      David – I have read that if one continues exercise and healthy eating you can keep weight gain to a minimum. It will always be a challenge but maintaining healthy weight while on lithium is possible. If the doctors are advising the use of lithium, I would be deeply concerned with the state of your mental health, first and foremost. Mental illness should not be trivialized… It is a serious concern which will affect not only yourself but all others around you. Keep your loved ones in mind when making your decision. Good luck and all the best.

    • gabrielle said

      i came off lithium after 8 years. I put on weight and had the effect of experiencing life as much muted. I chose to adopt a healthier lifestyle by giving up a stressful job, being fit and eating healthily. I stronly recommend you try out counciling, and all other avenues before committing to a serious drug with serious side effects. A damaged thyroid for life can lead to a life long of necessary drug treatments.

      • Salam Gallagher said

        How did you successfully come off without being stiflingly depressed or manic? Did you take certain supplements? I so much want to go off my meds and find the real cause of my imbalance, etc. I would love to speak to you. do you have an email you can give me? thanks Salam

        • Patricia said

          Hi, i’m sorry for everyone going through this horrible disease. I was on lithium and adderal for over a year, stupidly i was feeling awesome and thought i didn’t need it and stopped taking my meds. about 2 months ago now i felt like i needed to be back on meds and my doc prescribed resperadol, big mistake, put me into the deepest depression i have evr experienced, now back on the 900 lithium and 15mg 1 -2 times aday adderal, but for some reason not getting the same affect as the last time i was on it and it was working. did you experience anything like that?

          • Debbie said

            Question for Gabrielle

            how severe were your manic episodes if that is why u were taking lithium. Because I would love to increase counciling and stay on a lower dose.

    • B. Stradley said

      I’m in the same boat but not an athlete. I was given a prescription for lithium last week, had it filled, but never opened the bottle and don’t plan to. i’ve been on 3 other mood stabilizers in the past, and what they do, their actual job, is to make you numb enough to life that you’re not seen as an immediate risk to yourself or others. that means the doctors just pump you full of tranquilizers until you’re docile enough to leave everyone else alone. that’s when people think you’re “doing so much better!” (cuz you’re too doped-up to annoy them). all feeling becomes muted, deadened, and you feel the reach of your heart and soul shrink and shrivel. after a few months of it slowly erroding your personality you may finally realize that though you aren’t feeling depressed, you aren’t happy either. it traps you inside of yourself, and your emotions are always out of reach. you get by by acting, by telling people what you know you should, but inside there is no emotional connection to anyone anymore. and doctors call this progress. i’m frustrated with how i’ve been feeling with my bipolar lately, but i would much, much rather deal with the ups, downs, crying spells, racing thoughts, and the rest than feel nothing at all again as i did when on mood stabilizers. it can take months before you realize you’re drowning, but once you do you will flail your arms and legs as much and as fast as you can to break free of this chemical undertow and breath and feel again on your own. as someone else said, unless you are in a bad crisis and need to take something to put the breaks on for a few days or couple weeks, avoid lithium and the rest of the bunch. it’s not always a popular prescription to use for this, but for me small amounts of xanax pull me out of my racing thoughts and mania. not a benign drug, but i like that it can be used as needed, doesn’t need to be taken every day for the rest of your life with frequent blood tests to make sure it’s not killing you.

      this is my honest opinion after many years being tried on everything. i know people are bound to disagree with me, which leads to my last point my friend: don’t let people who’ve never experienced what you’re going through tell you what to do, not do, or what drugs to take, especially if they’ve never taken the drug themselves. this is true for doctors too. they like to hand them out, claiming to understand them, but in fact most have no personal experience being on them and rely on what they read in text books or are told by professors.

      Feel better, but be careful.

      • R Wilson said

        I disagree to an extent: that’s not what the doctors are after, but by far the most of them aren’t interested in taking the trouble to get the mix right once you’re “stable”. I had an award-winning psychiatrist who had my blood levels monitored monthly and had me charting every emotion I went through, and more. It was a pain, but after the fourth change of a med I woke up one morning and it felt like I’d actually woken up — more alert and alive and in control than I ever remembered.

        Double “alas”: first, finding a doctor willing to actually tune your meds to you is like looking for a lost tree frog on a gold course fairway; second, after you’ve been on the ‘right’ meds for a while (many months to several years) your body inevitably adjusts to their presence… and suddenly the mix isn’t right any longer. I’m at that second “alas” once again, miserable half the day, dying of thirst from lithium and half-awake due to seroquel… so as summer becomes actually summer, I’m going to ditch them all and depend on my SAD to keep me going until my system is flushed and we can try anew.

        If my insurance will pay for the process, I’ll be content.

    • Joe said

      I bike a bit and lithium orotate changed the composition of my sweat. I now taste real salty. I read that it can lead to dehydration in endurance athletes – not sure if this is the same for lithium carbonate. That is one question that you’ll need to ask your doc. GL

    • C Wilson said

      Yes, definitely google lithium,muscles,kidneys,dehydration. keep hydrated with electrolytes and keep up the salt!

    • rls714 said

      The only concern is the electrolyte balance- the dehydration and the kidneys with lithium ansd intense exercise and sun exposure. AH- I see C Wilson has already addressed this. Try drinkinc coconut water w/ lemon and honey instead of GATORADE. Water, water, water. Lemon. Good luck.

  10. tamara said

    I have been on a combination of Prozac (20mg) and Lithium (450 mg) for 14 years now. This combo was arrived at after some experimentation, and seems to be the one that works best for me. All my life, thru high school, kids, everything, I maintained a weight of 140 lbs (I’m 5’8″ and a muscular athlete). Once I started with the Lithium I gained 20 pounds, and have never been able to lose it. I eat healthy, exercise a lot, and no weight loss. However, I would much rather be ‘fat and happy’ than ‘skinny and depressed’! I have tried to taper off the lithium – bad news. I am ok with the weight gain as a side effect, given the alternatives.

    • aaa said

      450 doesn’t even sound like a therapeutic level to be effective, i don’t think the lithium is the issue.

      • B. Stradley said

        i was told to start with 300mg lithium; would you say that this dose is a joke (it’s 150mg less than the above post). sounds like i’d get to gain weight and have virtually no chance at real benefit. i’m going to continue to not take it. ever.

        • Rebecca said

          450mg is the absolute Most lithium that I am able to be on. Any more than that and I get incredibly sick. I’m at 300mg right now and it is therapeutically effective for me. It depends so much on your body, how your liver metabolizes and all that. You have to try it for yourself to see how Your body and mind respond.. every single person is different. Don’t sell yourself short by not trying something just because someone else has a bad response or it doesn’t work for them. Side effects are a part of the deal when taking any type of medication.. you just have to decide for yourself.. which is more painful, the side effects or the illness. Lithium has had the fewest side effects for me and I’ve been on everything. I’ll take dry mouth, sexual dysfunction, 10 extra pounds, constipation… nearly anything if it’ll get me out of the depths of hell and let me lead a semi-functional life. Lithium has given me that.

          • Kathy (for Richard) said

            My son is on 300 lithium/ 300 serequel xr & 10 mgs lexapro gained alot of weight 150-220 pounds since December 27th,2011

      • C Wilson said

        Totally agree with Rebecca. I am on maintenance dose of Li 300mg gd. (along with 300mg Wellbutrin). If i find myself swinging into an acute episode i will raise it but 600mg has been enough to stave it off and I have found 900mg to have toxic side effects for me personally. Everyone really is different. UK has a done great studies on lowering Li doses for maintenance with much success. This really helps my quality of life because I am also very sensitive to meds.

  11. Sab said

    It’s funny. I’m on lithium and I’m loosing weight cause I’m so scared of gaining so I stopped eating and only drink protein shakes. But I feel better than ever…

    • sal said

      That makes me confident. Been on Lithium (1200mg a day + 15mg Remeron) My head is super clear, I still have my natural energy, talking characteristics etc. I like being manic, but the doctor says it is detremental to my drug addiction. So I’m following orders and taking my medicine. I do not feel muted, or fogged up at all. I see a benefit In myself being able to clearly define when I am just content with… life haha… not thinking too much into things. I can agree with others when they said they find it hard being able to read/write. I just need to use a little more focus and mental dexterity. Other than that the medicine is working wonders for me. The 2 weeks i’ve been on it I have not touched any narcotics or alcohol. Thanks

      • Debbie said

        I have been on Lithium for 24 yrs with a few intervals. I am having side effects of and loss of words. i was able to work full time until about six years ago. I am getting a neuro work-up due to side effects. i have excessive thirst, osteoporosis(only 49) and have had hypothyroidism a yr after put on lithium. My memory use to be like photographic and it is fair at best. Any suggestions? I like thge idea of lamactal and lithium combination.

        • B. Stradley said

          my experience with lamichtal shot my memory to bits and made some of the simplest problem solving and basic math nearly impossible for me to perform. friends and fam said i looked spaced out, not there, not myself. these things aren’t good for us no matter how badly we want them to be, and i understand that fully. i’ve no reason to believe they do anything but more damage, make you stupid, slow, lethargic, too passive, ruin your sense of humor and abilitity to crack jokes on the fly, as well as relate to other human beings. you just can’t access the parts of yourself that allow you to really care about other people (or yourself) when on these drugs. that’s no way to live either. i wish you the very best.

  12. Chaz said

    Really appreciate every ones comments and sharing. I have been on lithium now for 4 years, 450mg ER once daily and when I skip a day or two, emotions are bad! Can totally relate to the weight gain challenge, would love to hear when someone finds something that helps…take care each of you.

    • Kathy (for Richard) said

      Yeah, my son has had a weight gain of some 70 pounds since at first losing weight from the side effect of Abilify where he was always moving (Kathaisis?). When he first became manic he was 173 pounds. Now he’s 220.

  13. layla said

    I am presently starting lithium..I have a massive headache today 5. Maybe its because I just stoped taking lamictal and zyprexa due to my liver being elivated. I am concerned. This headache doesn’t feel normal and it been here for over a day. I went to emergency last night becuase my left side of my face felt num…I don’t know anybody have headaches on Lithium?

  14. brenda said

    I take 50 mg of lamical it seems to work along with empower plus vitamins if there is no stress I seem not to bad but every day is different. Hope for the best.

  15. Lisa said

    I have been on 900mg of Lithium for 17 years for Bipolar disorder and have developed a goiter on my thyroid gland. A few years ago I started taking 75mg of Effexor also, to help with depression. I have very few mood swings now but sometimes I am lethargic and my brain is fuzzy…I rarely have insomnia which is a huge gift as it was a continuing problem in my youth. I have tried to lower the dose of lithium and/or go off of it several times with little success. Each time I would feel great for about 4 weeks then I would plummet into severe depression and go crawling back to the medicine. I don’t ever want to go back to the rollercoaster of emotions I experienced before Lithium…so I keep doing what the doc says and I am grateful for being emotionally stable today.

    • Meru said

      Hi Lisa im taking 900 mg of lithium since 10 years since i was 16 and now im 26 ,my doc said your case needs a regular medication for 5 years but i discontinue the tabs coz of my own carelessness.Cud you please tell me wht negative side effects one can have of taking lithium for long term.Good Luck and Thanks for your time :)

      • Kathy (for Richard) said

        My son has gone to the Endocronoligist since taking lithium (300 mg)in December. Weight gain has been his only side effect. He can sleep during the day aloty if driving in a car, but manages the day otherwise. Takes serequel xr 300 mgs, and 10 lexapro.

  16. Carie said

    I have been on lithium for almost 6 years~ In all of my research I have found that…Lithium is the ONLY medication (for Bi Polar) that is geared toward individuals that are prone to mania. All of the other meds (Lamictal, antipsychotics) are taylored for the ones that are very prone to the depression side BP. I am very, very inclined to be manic, but as we all know…what goes up, must come down! I have have great results from the lithium, feel normal, functional and clear headed. The only down side to the med, for me, is that if I take all 900mg together, I end up with a stomach ache. If I take 600mg at night then the other 300mg in the morning~ all is well!! My advice to everyone~do your own research, almost everyone of us has a different tendency with BP. Some have high’s, some have low’s, some are long, some short and some cycle mildly several times a day (that’s me!). Keep your chin up and always take your meds! If we had cancer we would seek treatment for that, right??? Same thing here!!

  17. Tina-Marie said

    Hi all,

    Very interesting reading your comments. I’ve been on 1000mg of Lithium for fifteen years now. I am unipolar so take the antidepressant Citalopram as well. As a direct result of the Lithium, I now have a dysfunctional thyroid which I take meds for. Due to all the pills I have popped over the years, I developed an ulcer, so take meds for that as well. Recently my tremors have become much worse. As the Lithium level is correct and the cause is unknown, I am now on a low dose of Beta Blockers. In short, I take more medication to combat the side effects of the original medication prescribed for the condition!!

    I came off Lithium for twelve months and ended up in a psychiatric ward. After thirteen sessions of ECT which had no positive effect, I was put back on Lithium.

    I feel trapped, taking a medication that could potentialy do more harm than good in the future. The professionals seem to offer no alternative. Lithium leaves me feeling numb and divorced from reality. I have participated in twelve months of one to one CBT as well which was helpful to a degree. I still have depressive episodes though not as debilitating as when off Lithium. Is this as good as it gets??

    • Emma Peel said

      Your last question sees me suicidal currently. I’m on 1200mg Lithium and still severly depressed. Sick of meds, sick of it ALL.

      • Emily said

        Emma Peel, I never believed it could get better. Ever. Was suicidal for 9 years, attempted once, but something within me knew that no matter what I should never ever give up.
        Finally I found the right combo of meds back in 2006. Lamictal, Lithium, Levoxyl for autoimmune thyroid disorder, Klonopin, Serax, and Cerefolin NAC for a folate deficiency caused by Lamictal.
        Three years later I stumbled onto 3 things that became my passions – longboard skateboarding, photography, and trading stocks. And after I found those passions I found happiness. And seriously I never thought it was possible.
        But it is, believe me, even if you don’t think it is possible, always remember that it is. People do recover. And go on to live happy lives!! It can be a long hard process to get there, but you can do it.
        Laughter is key. Exercise is also key. And staying connected to others is also key. And having a pet helps so much too.
        This is just my 2 cents. But always remember that getting better is possible.
        Do as much research as you can and find a doctor who really listens to you.
        I hope you feel better :) Good luck!!
        There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

        • patryan said

          hi emily i have been on lithium 14 years.i went through hell,but i want to tell you
          you can working now.people who have this illness are very special and usually intelligent
          and have great sense of humour.i would love to keep in touch with you.i liked this message you gave.

          if you want to email me you can

          • Debbie said

            I would say the tremors Even if your lab is within normal limits tremors are a high of toomuch lithium( as i learned from professional) If my level his 1.0 it is too high for me- my doc wants it at .8 or.9, Good luck

          • Debbie said

            Sorry for the typos above – this should clear it up ” tremors indicate high lithium level”. cant always trust the labs and you may have a personal level that works for you, as I do,.9- anything above and I feel it( only happen 3x in 24 ys). Also lithium is more of an antimanic so it leaves some depressive side effects and often has to be suipplemented with antidepressant. (if you are Bipolar.) Good luck -keep in touch. Med management taked a while

        • rls714 said

          I totally agree with Emily. That is definitely the right trail. Ride that board for me, too!

  18. megacooldude said

    I am on lithium for 2 weeks and had headaces every day was on valproate for 6 years much better but got pancriatis from it heard you must stay on lithium onley for 3-5 years the kidneys get damaged and thyroid problems you warened

  19. Todd Mc said

    Hey David, I have been on Lithium for 20 yrs and have competed in triathlons and marathons, while on it. I am not Olympic material but can beat 90% that line up for the race. When I first started taking Lithium, I did aerobic classes to get used to the feeling it gave me and identified that I was living in a new median. I resigned myself to the fact that taking Lithium isn’t the end of the world. The worst thing I can say about it is I gained ten pounds, but with exercise, I am still fitter than 97% of the population. It sure beats the crap that goes with being put in a hospital and taking a yr or more to recover from an episode.

    • jl said

      Hi Todd, Do you have any suggestions for getting back into shape & dealing with side effects of Lithium? I ran marathons, etc prior to diagnosis but then dealt with many different health issues and added to that depression, etc. I’ve been on Lithium almost 5 years & have really started to put life back together except for the weight. I really need to lose 50 lbs. I know Lithium isn’t the cause of all of it, however, in trying to find medications that worked along with not being healthy I’m in this position. You seemed to have learned how to balance all of that. I would appreciate any feedback you have.

    • Emily said

      Todd I do longboarding (a special type of skateboard designed to go long distances) marathons and ultramarathons, and also take lithium. Do you have to worry about lithium toxicity when you overheat? Do you take any special electrolyte formulas? I’ve been using pedialyte on days when I work out a lot.
      Thanks, your story is definitely inspiring!!!

  20. Beth said

    Diagnosed in 98 with Bi Polar have been on Lithium since then and responded very well to it. However there are a lot of reports that it is not good to be on it for a long time. I have a very grotesque thyroid that will need to come out in Feb. due to Lithium. I am currently weening off and starting to introduce Tegretol. I have gained a lot of weight and cannot lose it no matter what diet or exercise I currently do. Am looking forward to changing so my life can change to.

  21. johan said

    Good drug is mictal if you can overcome the rash

  22. darryl said

    yes my name is darryl i have been bi polar since i can remember, i did not seek help till my 30 birthday, as any one with my condition would know taking the step to go to the doctor was really really hard, my 20’s were not very well, not in the sense on the outside, i was very popular, got girls, everyone liked me. but i struggled inside and the way i handled it was with heavy mania. gambling , drinking drug addiction never sleeping, sex, porno addiction. believe it or not i did not know at the time stuff was wrong till i starting losing my life and the girl i loved through poor choices that come along with everything i did. i went to the doctor and got on lithium i started out at 600mg then 900mg now 1200mg. which is on the high end i think, i have been on it for 3 years, and i feel awesome, some small side effects, but worth it. i don;t drink any more, i don’t do drugs, i have regular sleeping habits for the first time. i guess what i wanted to know is do i every have to switch meds and for long time users does it always stay this way. never shared my story before. hope no one minds.

    • brenda coffman said

      That’s great! So happy for you. I want my son to read your post, I think yall have lots in common.

      • B. Stradley said

        I can understand you wanting your son to feel better and to connect with people he can relate to. but i do hope and pray that as a parent you’re not trying to coax him into taking anything he doesn’t feel comfortable with himself. my family tried some tactics in the past that nearly destroyed our relationships. example: if they had gone through with trying to secretly have me hospitalized against my will when i was having a non-violent manic bout, i’d never trust them again. they didn’t end up trying to force me into the hospital but my eldest sister recently told me that they had been trying to figure out how to do so at that time. wow. families need to be open and honest if they claim to love each other. Again, i’m so glad they didn’t go through with it. it would’ve made my mental health so much worse if i’d been betrayed.

  23. johan said

    Hi wanted to say lamictal is just as good as lithium but lithium is the gold standerd in bipolar 1 no better drug Do not worry darryl If been hospitalised 4 times for acute mania and psycosis everybody think they got the bad ass one we all got it bad and must make the best of life there is many people that not even meds will work on them we in a freaky way lucky

  24. Helena Walsh said

    Helena here

    Been on Lithium since 1993 all was fine until 6 months ago i gave up smoking, gained a load of weight, have high blood pressure and terrible swelling of the feet. Unable to work for the last 3 weeks begining to get down, very fustrated. don’t want to go backwards again have not been in hospital in 3 years. Lithium has been one of the medications i have always been on and now it looks like it may be the culprite causing my other health issues.


    • DEBBIE said

      I WOuLD CALL YOUR DR OR THERAPIST- they may be able to supplement your meds to decrease depression

    • B. Stradley said

      Helena i wish you the very best! from what i’ve read and learned from several doctors, pharmacists, friends with loved ones suffering, it is likely that lithium played a role in your other health problems, and for that i say i’m sorry! be sure to have the most competent doc you can find evaluate you. in addition to my bipolar, i have anxiety disorder for which my doctor had me on 4-8mg/day for nealry 8 years. lost jobs because of it, but needed the calm. then my doc’s office changed policy to not allow long-term (more than 6 week) treatment with xanax-type drugs (benzodiazapines). this led to them dropping my dosage drastically over too short amount of time. my rebound anxiety nearly ate me alive and while i also take methodone and vicodin for Fibromyalgia pain, xanax is the hardest drug to go without by far. be careful! my doctor would qualify as negligent, i’m sure. be sure yours is competent and take care!

  25. lisabridgette said

    I was diagnosed with Bipolar 3 years after going completly manic on Prozac while being treated for severe depression post sucide attemt #3. Following that was a roller coaster ride of debilitating depression and hypomania that Depakote, Lamictal(almost died from the rash), Haldol, Risperidone and Zoloft in various combinations and cocktails could NOT control.
    It was not until a year ago when I was discharged from lock down in a pshch ward that my doctor put me on Lithium as a last resort to control my illness and I’ve been functional ever since.
    Have I gained weight? Yes
    Has my memory and concentration gone down the toilet? Yes
    Does my hand shake and mess with my handwriting? Yes
    Do I feel emotionally uninvolved in life? Yes
    But I’m working with a nutritionist and I’m exercising. I also write stuff down in an effort to remember. It is a work in progress, though I feel like Bipolar, Lithium and all the other drugs have fried my brain. But at least now I can function and I’m not attacking my friend with a 6″ knife trying to get the demon from inside her.

  26. Chandon Barry said

    Hey there folks Im a little scared of the power this drug has. I’ve been taking it for about 2 months now (Im now at 750 mg’s of slow release.) and many of the side effects are gone. I was wondering if anyone else has had the effect of having insanely vivid dreams and the ability to recall them night after night? I keep a dream journal now and am quite in awe of my minds wanderings when Im asleep. I can recall the dreams in order with crystalline clarity in an 8 hour sleep that seems like a couple of days in a different dimension. I also have been experiencing this effect with short cat naps of a half an hour or less that have the same dream time and vividness that I would have after an 8 hours of sleep. Before I started taking Lithium I would maybe recall 1 dream every 6 months or so, and even these were vague in my ability to recall them with any detail. When I first started taking it I was on 900 mg’s a day and was having a hard time telling the difference between reality and dream state. Im still a little dopey in the mornings but otherwise am unperturbed by any of the drugs other side effects that have mainly dissipated at this point. I’ve been looking around but have not found anything so far written about lithium that even comes close to what happens to me every night. I want to talk to some other “patients” who have had similar experiences. It’s like a whole universe has been opened up to me. The other week I watched one of my girlfriends slow down time in a dream and am still in wonder at the memory and crispness of reality that I witnessed. If anyone has had any similar “effects” please email me.

    • Lisa said

      Absolutely! You have company with that side effect. I have been on Lithium and Lamictal for a considerable amount of time, and the dreams are incredible. Vivid and so real I still, at times, have to ask another person if it was real or a dream. I have gotten over being embarrassed by that. My illness is no secret to anyone who knows me so I treat my symptoms as I do any other part of my personality…with humor and honesty.

  27. Neil Burdick said

    Here are some alternatives to modern practice that you may want to look into:

    I’ve actually run through at least one episode without drugs; as unsettling as they’ve been, I think the psychiatric ‘treatments’ are exponentially worse. I am a psychiatric survivor who’s not been hospitalized in a year almost and not taken any meds.
    My biggest concern is that a continuous regimen of psychiatric drugs alters one’s personality, usually continuous, for a lifetime. You are not yourself on them, but a drug-altered persona. This is not therapy, not one that leads to case resolution, one that would put the person on a path to sanity. The drugs gloss over the symptoms without addressing the underlying causes which most psychiatrists don’t have the audacity and courage to deal with.

    Even being disconnected from society via incarceration is torture by itself; it was the worst thing that could happen to you in tribal communities, even death wasn’t as bad. Only gently therapies work; disappearing someone who is already in a spiritual crisis just compounds the trauma.

    It doesn’t work. Please look at other alternatives. A Psychiatric Survivor’s life isn’t exactly a picnic, but at least I know what I’m feeling is my real affects, not some dumbed-down or false sense of calm and comfort, which aren’t optimal states of being anyway, IMHO.

    • sara lee said

      i do agree with you to a stand point and feel the same way but the anexity was getting so bad it was affecting my job. and where do you turn when you have no where to turn. going on this med was hard cause i feel i should be able to do it all and for me to admit there is an issuse is almost unreal for me.

  28. Bipolar said

    Lithium helps prevent/correct Bipolar brain damage?

    New studies (2011) have been released which suggest that Bipolar disorder causes progressive brain damage, and that lithium actually helps to prevent further damage, and may even help to repair grey matter.

    I was going to post a link, but think that it’s important that people read the most current research, and I don’t know when this will be read. Search for lithium + bipolar + brain damage, and you will find the latest research.

    As for my personal experiences, Lithium really helps to keep me stable and dramatically reduces my anxiety (which is my most prominent symptom). I feel nauseous at various times of the day, foggy thinking, headaches, fry mouth, insomnia if taken at night (no problem when I take it in the morning), but overall the benefits far outweigh the side-effects, and the side-effects are less bothersome than most other meds that I have taken (especially anti-depressants and anti-psychotics). When the side-effects are listed it makes it sound worse than it is, so don’t be afraid of the drug. Try it for yourself and see if it works for you, and keep in mind that side-effects with all psychiatric meds tend to be the worst when first taking it.

    I was on Lamictal for years with no side-effects, but it did nothing for my anxiety, and I had to take Xanax multiple times daily for the 3 years that I was on it. Now my baseline anxiety levels are lower than they were even on the ant-anxiety meds.

    Now I will never stop taking Lithium, and my husband doesn’t want me to go off it either

    So, won’t hurt to try it, just get your blood tests :D

  29. Sally said, Oh, how I wish I had found this site before. I have been mucked about on at least 26 combinations of meds since the age of 17 – I am 64 now. Hosptial admissions!!! The last was this year, in March. I was on a combination of Depakote 1000mg and Lamictal 200 mg for 5 years – worked like a charm. Then some neurologist decided my Lamictal levels were toxic, so he reduced the Lamictal to 150 mgs = instant mania, hospital. My psychiatrist was furious, so back on the regimen. Unfortunately, I began taking Temazepam for insomnia, and changed the usual regimen of Depakote and Lamictal to Lithium at the same time. when I shook like a crazy person, I thought it was the Lithium, so took myself off it. (Are you getting confused yet?) Now my doctor has prescribed Klonopin .5 mgs for panic and social anxiety. I usually take it at night, but often skip a dose because I think it is for short-term use only. He doesn’t agree, and we have constant battles over this. I suppose I am just completely mixed up. So long as i don’t get TD, I guess I am better off than some. Any comments would be welcome.

  30. already left a comment above

  31. Barb K said

    I have been taking Lithium 16 years along with celexa. How do I go off lithium

  32. Barb K said

    Barb K.-I have never been manic

  33. sara lee said

    Hi my name is sara i have been trying all kindsof meds since i was a teen nothing helped i had awful side affects from them all my doc decided to do a test to see what my body produces to much of and put me on a combo of lithium150mg x3 a day ritalin 10mg 2 or 3 a day i also take xanax as needed which seems to still be alot do to the fast heart ratefrom ritalin. most days i feel ok but still have moments and feel in a fog alot it has only been 3 weeks sat are these feelings common and do they go away?

    • sara lee said

      had to go off it had a really bad reaction to it and i feel much better with out it to all you on it ihope you do better than i did. very scary just glad it was not as bad as it could of been.

  34. lelethu,SA said

    I’m 23 years old & I have been diagnosed with Bipolar in 2007.I was on sodium valproate & risperidal but nw they have included lithium which gives me tremors,I therefore take propanolol for them.I weight 82kg.I read your stories & they are scaring me having a GOITE! Dude seriously thats not cool at all.Im seriously scared
    this is worse than Aids.

    • Duzenelli said

      That’s offensive. Grow up.

      • Duzenelli said

        Sorry, that previous comment was harsh. But Lethelu “this is worse than AIDS” is insensitive, I have no idea what it’s like to have AIDS and thinking about the stigma that surrounds mental (dis)orders like Bipolar, which I as well as you have been diagnosed with, I was shocked at the rudeness of that statement.

  35. Kat said

    I’ve been on lithium for 10 days now and feel much worse than before–I hate this stuff and everything inside me is screaming “get off.'” I don’t understand why my doc would want to give me something that makes me feel worse, and then increase the dose! I don’t know what a manic episode is, I’m just depressed! Argh! I was tired before but now I can’t make it out of bed. I’m too tired to shower and even eat. I’m glad lithium is helpful to so many people, sounds like a life-saver, but it’s not right for me. Any suggestions for how to best go off?

  36. Judy said

    My father was bipolar and on lithium for over 35 years. My niece is now on it too, age 13. It seems it is the only thing that works except alcohol, (the poison of choice for most of us with minor symptoms). I was interested in the comment about thyroid problems. I have never taken lithium and have a goiter, age 54, have had it for 15 years. I have Celiac Disease, (gluten allergy). Somehow that is closely related to autism and mental illness. The damage may have been done when we were babies eating gluten and wrecking our brains so whatever you can do to feel better, lithium, etc., just do it.

    It is a wonder drug. Helped my father and is helping my niece. Good Luck to you guys, I’m going to keep on taking my G&T meds nightly.

  37. Tim said

    I have been on Lithium for about 4 years, although it makes me feel like a “zombie” very little emotion, better than in mania. I have a family history of depression and bipolar disease. I went off Trileptal which I liked very much other than it is very expensive: it stopped working after a few years. Down fall of Lithium is weight gain and it is extremely hard to lose weight that I did gain which stinks. Anyone have any ideas on losing weight?

    • Pythia said

      I’ve had success with Wellbutrin for controlling the weight gain. Not as a diet pill, but as an anti-depressant. Two of the not so unfortunate side-effects of Wellbutrin is nausea, at first, then decreased appetite after the adjustment period. I also take the least lithium I can without losing control (I still have ups and downs).

      A few years ago, my doctor had me so doped up that I was hardly ever awake, and when I was, I was too nauseated to eat. So, I essentially starved off about 50 pounds in three or four months. Since then, I’ve mostly kept it off, although I tend to yoyo by about 10 pounds.

      • Tim said

        I’ve had Wellbutrin before and serious issues with photosensitivity; the sun blinded me even if I was looking away, very severe. Now I take Celexa for the depression and of course the Lithium. I used Abilify that stuff is crazy I HATED that stuff. I has also used Depakote didn’t do much for me. Good luck on your journey.

        • Pythia said

          Ah…so that’s why my iPhone blinds me in the dark even though I set the brightness ridiculously low.

          Good luck to you too, especially with weight issue. I know how unpleasant and frustrating that is.

  38. Sonia said

    Hey Everyone,

    Facts go like this: I’m 40 was diagnosed Bipolar 2 years ago (after struggling with it since I was 15 – too long a history to go into)…

    I am currently on 1500mg of Lithium as well as Seroquel 300mg at night (which got rid of those awesome dreams – don’t dream; don’t roll over – I just count myself lucky I breath while I’m ‘under the influence’ of Seroquel – 10 hours sleep and forget waking up to the alarm!!).

    When the Lithium shut down my thyroid function, the docs tried me on a whole variety of other drugs – Valproate; Avanza; Sifrol; Valdoxan and a couple of others, with no success so they put me back onto Lithium.

    I have to take a high dose apparently to stay in the therapuetic range… I was wondering if anyone has been on Lithium at that level for a long period of time… my psych doc doesnt’ want to reduce it anytime soon. I have intermittent tremors (sometimes severe); considerable weight gain (+30 kg); feel like I’m thinking through cotton wool; nausea etc – the routine ones I suppose – but am really worried about what might happen with long term use at high dose…

    Oh – and just recently I’ve been having “mini hallucinations” – honest – I’m seeing things that aren’t there! The doc just sort of made a note and dismissed it – freaking me out slightly though!

    • Tim said

      Wow! That’s a high dosage of Lithium. I take 1200 mg now tak Lithium SA 900 mg at night, drinking extra water helps with the tremors. That is what my pyschiatrist said, it does for me anyway. The VA hospital lowered my Celexa to 40 mg because of the FDA.

  39. Dani Park said

    Why does brain chemistry get screwed up? I don’t rule out psychic attacks.To get off lithium and other psychiatric drugs is not in the interests of those who make their living by manufacturing drugs or prescribing them.After thirty years on 400mgs nightly of lithium and 150 micro-
    grams daily of Levothyroxine, I decided to come off lithium
    because I hadn’t had an episode for eighteen years and after a heart attack three years ago I was on eleven different medications that interacted with each other.It has to be done VERY SLOWLY, decreasing the dosage LITTLE BY LITTLE.I am still unable to sleep for more than four hours a night,get temperature fluctuations,voracious appetite.

  40. julie pack said

    Thank u so much for this post..I’m on both and have worked wonders for me and my anger..I’m still angry but not rageful as I use to be..I have been very nervous because I too have heard horable things about that I have trusted and have taken them I have not experienced side effects on lithium however did get a small rash thay lasted about 2 weeks on my chest from lamictal.everything is fine now and I’m starting to fine better…thank you so very much for this post…


  41. Kim said

    I have been on lithium for a year and a half. It is destroying my thyroid. I eat very little and have always been a very thin adult. I work out every day and try to eat less than 1500 calories a day. I am 46 years old. Everything was fine for a while and then 6 months ago I started gaining weight rapidly for no reason. My Dr.s put me on thyroid meds but I still eat very little and am unable to loose weight. I have been slowly weening myself off of the lithium but have found I am getting very depressed. I really never go severely manic. I definately am on the depressive end of the bipolar spectrum. I am angry, hungry, fat, and tired. I wish I had been warned that you can gain a huge amount of weight without overeating.

  42. Sai said

    Thanks everyone for your experiences with Lithium. I have been on Lithium for the past 3+ years. My blood tests show impaired Thyroid and kidney function. I have weaned myself off Lithium over a period of one month, but now I feel groggy and nauseated. I don’t know how much longer this will continue.

  43. Sierra said

    Hi everyone,
    I was very pleased to find this site when looking up the effects of Lithium on others. I myself was prescribed 900 mg of Lithium two months ago, and have been pleased with the results. Interestingly enough, I have actually lost 5 pounds without exercising much more since being on it, as my appetite as decreased severely at points and I have more motivation and energy to do things. This energy and motivation comes without the frenetic mania it used to accompany. Sometimes my veracious appetite will come back, but that is usually around “that time of the month”. I feel like I can more sharply articulate what I am thinking and feeling, very unlike the way I felt on every single other med (I tried six, some in combination, this past summer). In other words, I am ecstatic at the results of the Lithium thus far. I am finally returning to the activities I enjoyed so much.
    I must add that, especially as a young 20 year old college student, Social Rhythm Therapy has been hugely helpful and the lithium has assisted me in my own regulation of my personal rhythms. For example, I have a lot of energy during the day after waking up at around 8, but past twelve I begin to get sleepy. This never happened naturally before lithium. My experiences with it have inspired me to pursue the eventual goal of getting a PhD in Clinical Psychology, even though I still have a passion for writing.
    As for the gentleman above who mentioned Lithium reversing Bipolar Brain Damage, that is what I have been researching intensively for months now and it makes me so happy to see that someone else is up to speed on this. It annoys me a bit that doctors do not mention this force behind the disorder. In fact, there has been a definite correlation found between subcortical and periventricular White Matter Hyperintensities and Bipolar patients. Wait for it: These same white matter lesions, also knows in the medical community as UBOs (Unidentified Bright Objects), have been found in patients with Alzheimers in Dementia. Yet the results of one study I read showed an increased presence in ADOLESCENT bipolar patients (!!!). This is big news. A study by researchers at Wayne State University also found that Lithium helped to improve growth of certain gray matter regions related to mood and memory regulation. Does this mean that demyelination and brain damage linked to both Alzheimers, Dementia, and Bipolar Disorder mean that all three conditions are triggered by similar mechanisms? As a future researcher and clinician with the disorder herself (And yes, I know that I have to keep it under wraps for my career), I yearn to study these mechanisms and the implications of what they might mean for the future diagnosis and treatment of the illness.
    Keep the faith, all!

  44. This was really great to read! I started Lithium a couple months ago, I’m getting better as my body steadily puts this drug to use, but I’ve been kinda of scared lately because I think I’m just poisoning myself. This is part of my anxiety though; worst scenario thinking. I have a Dr. appointment tomorrow and will voice my concern. I’ve had this anxiety for 3 years and I’m just….well….scared of this drug a little. I’m a young guy, 22, I will be getting married soon and I’m just wondering if this drug is all worth me potentially killing myself. I want my life back, but I have this felling with this drug that I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

    • Dorota said

      hey there

      the lithium is a natural drug with a bid concentration unlike all other chemically combined drugs. I know people who have been taking lithium for over 20 years and they have no health problems. It all depends of your lifestyle. I think if you listen to your body and do what it is telling you to do then you will be fine. The kidney failure side effect is a possibility but not a must. The doctors and the books have to tell you about the bad side effects because they have a responsibility towards you. If I sell you a bottle of coca cola and not tell you that it is packed with sugar and you have diabetes well you will be sick and I might be in trouble.

      But let me tell you this, lithium has been on the market for over 40 years. The doctors know the side effects, they know how to handle that drug and by the way, lithium is not that bad. Recent studies show that lithium protects good cells during chemotherapy so people recover faster and don’t need that much radiation and be sick for a long time. They are testing the lithium on leukemia cells, a disease we have no cure for yet. There are cells in the spine that are affected by that terrible disease and lithium could have a beneficial input on this. The former is already tested on humans and the latter is still in progress with mice.

      Unlike other drugs that we dont know the bad side effects of long term use, I think lithium is the best, if it’s working for you.

      I am on lithium myself and I had been listening to my body. Lithium makes you thirsty and go pee all the time. even disrupts your sleep. I take my pills in the morning so I dont get up at night to pee. I always carry water with me. If you don’t like water, put some lemon or grapefruit juice in it, or get crystal light flavor pouches and mix it with water. Avoid or eliminate alcohol, coffee and sodas. It will dehydrate you and make you even more thirsty AND make you shaky and obnoxious.

      hope that helped you. and the anxiety will go away with time if you stick to lithium. Mine did. Good luck.

  45. Dorota said

    Hello to all
    I was diagnosed with bipolar type II last year. I tried two different drugs, first Zyprexa which made me feel like a zombie. I couldn’t get out of the bed because my body felt like a big stone. Then I tried Lamictal and I felt drunk all the time, I couldn’t go to work or drive. Finally my doctor said ”Enough, I will put you on Lithium”. I came back home with the prescription, did a research on lithium on the net and read my book about bipolar that has a section on lithium. I noticed that on of the side effects was weight gain. I though OH NO!!! because I already was 185lbs. But I had no choice but to take the drug if I didn’t want to commit suicide or if I wanted to get my life back. So I started taking the lithium, 600mg to start. Along the treatment, I was reading books about bipolar and they said that you have to have a healthy life style. Meaning, eating well, exercising and knowing when you have a down so you can control your depression and therefore thinking that it’s not you, it’s the illness that is making you sick. 4 weeks later I went back for blood tests to check the level of the drug. It was too low, BUT I started to feel a difference. For exemple I wasn’t snappy at people anymore. I still felt like crap though because of the ups and downs. The doc put me on 900mg. As time went by, I felt better and better. Then mid November I felt the pill wasn’t working anymore. I went back to the doc and he put me on 1200mg after blood test showing low level and that was november 28th 2011. Since then, I feel so different and guess what!!!! I lost 22 lbs because I have a healthy lifestyle. It is January 8th 2012 and Im at 163lbs and it is going down. I learned how to recognize the symptoms and taught myself little tricks on how to overcome them. For exemple the need to nap. I know it’s hard especially when your eyes are heavy and all you want is to lock yourself up in a dark closet away from everybody and sleep until Thanksgiving. But I keep myself busy doing things around home, like decorating, knitting, cooking, learning new recipes, etc…

    What we need to do, bipolar friends, is to learn what works for us and not always believe and go with what’s in the book. For exemple, in all my books, they say that the best combination is lithium with some antidepressant. I tried that and every antidepressant I tried I almost committed suicide or couldn’t move or speak. you have to try and find what works for you and then stick to it. I am on lithium only right now and I feel good. It takes months and months until the lithium takes fully effect, but don’t give up.


    • Bernadette said

      Dora, thanks for sharing your story, i am on day 3 and i am suppose to take 3 tonight but i taken only 2 cause felt foggy, but i know it takes time to work, so i am going to take another one just like the doctor ordered. I pray i have the same response. thanks again

  46. Amy said


    I last had a breakdown, mixed and rapid cycling over a year or two, in 2008/9. I was switched from the evil Seroquel to Lithium, in addition to the Lamictal I have been taking for 8 years. I found that it helped a lot, particularly as the Seroquel was disabling and made me hallucinate.

    However, i found that in the past year I have felt numb, unemotional and out of touch with myself. CBT and Mindfulness based cognitive therapy has helped with ruminations that never left me previously, but I still had suicidal ideation and huge blahness.

    I have cut down from 800mg to 400mg of Li, starting from 8th Dec 11 and feel calmer and a bit happier. I am staying on 300mg or more if needed, of Lamictal.

    Since I went right down to 400mg from 800mg of Li and my serum level was 0.3 and I am fine, is it safe to keep reducing over a couple of months to zero, increasing the Lamictal by 50mg if necessary. Is 0.3 at 400mg REALLY doing anything clinically significant?

    Has anyone else done this successfully? I have emailed the pdoc to let him know. He was always hopeful we could get me on monotherapy, anyway.


    • Kathy said

      My son has just been through 2 months & one week of the horror of a complete manic break from bullying in school. I am reading these & trying to google the success and dosages of the Serequel XR that he is on 450mg plus 300 mg of Lithium as well as Lexapro & Xanax. It took 7 weeks to come to a point where he has not had another manic episode in almost 3 weeks. During his first bout/ he responded to Abilfy but then got the kathaisis side effect. Switched to Serequel still had manic episodes then added the Lithium. I hate giving him the meds all at once (Serequel XR + Lithium) but if split up during the day- 150 mg Serequel + 300 Lithium in the a.m. or even Lithium in a.m. and 150 Serequel at 4:30p.m., he is sleeping/eating -period. So tomorrow we are going to start giving him 450 Serequel XR + 300 Lithium before he goes to sleep. Lexapro/ Xanax in the a.m. . Sound okay?

      • Amy said

        The Seroquel sounds like a reasonable dose, but certainly relatively higher to the Lithium, which is a very low dose at 300mg. You’ll have to get his blood levels checked so that they are below 1.0 and hopefully above 0.4. It’s his well-being that counts though, so don’t get too hung up on whether it’s 0.5 or 0.8 – some function at a low serum level. Good luck!

        • Kathy said

          We lowered Serequel XR to 375 and are at 300 lithium. He is stabilized. Went for blood work twice. Once when he was at 600 mg lithium and again at lower dose. Going to Endocronoligist this Wednesday. HOPING to be able to stay on the lithium because it seemed to have done the trick. BUT maybe just the Serequel XR and being on an anti psychotic for 8 continuous weeks… does one know? We’d like to get the Serequel dose down to 300 because he’s still so tired and of course EATING!

          • Kathy said

            Kathy said
            January 20, 2012 at 11:25 am
            We lowered Serequel XR to 375 and are at 300 lithium. He is stabilized. Went for blood work twice. Once when he was at 600 mg lithium and again at lower dose. Going to Endocronoligist this Wednesday. HOPING to be able to stay on the lithium because it seemed to have done the trick. BUT maybe just the Serequel XR and being on an anti psychotic for 8 continuous weeks… does one know? We’d like to get the Serequel dose down to 300 because he’s still so tired and of course EATING!


          • B. Stradley said

            I understand your frustration not knowing which drug is doing what and which ones should be adjusted or changed. i’ve been through that a lot myself since 1998. i just had my first appointment with my new psychiatrist, and she’s going to be making some med changes, but i’m insisting on only ONE CHANGE AT A TIME. i got so sick of being given 2-3 new drugs on the same day on top of the 3-4 others already in my system. it became impossible to pinpoint what was working and what wasn’t; so much overlap in side-effects and interactions. but if only one change is made at a time and given sufficient time to settle into my system both me and my doctor will be able to keep track for once. i realize there are some situations where more than one drug must be added or changed, but do your best to keep it to one. hope that helps some folks!

  47. lindsay said

    after reading all these posts ive noticed that the majority of you have experienced positive results from taking lithium, with weight gain and tremors being the main side effects. i on the other hand have had a completely different experience.i have struggled with severe depression for about 10 years, now 23 years old. i have had a very fortunate life, good family and friends, always a straight A student, and very gifted athletically, but even so my mental state and these feelings that i have, have always seemed to be out of my control. my main symptoms are very low depressed mood, anxiety, mild mood swings, agitation, insomnia and within the past 3 yrs suicidal thoughts as well. doctors started me on antidepressants and i began therapy. over the following years nothing seemed to be working. i had a couple months of success here and there but no long term progress. the most frustrating part was having hope that this could all change, but after numerous trials with different medications and combinations (33 different medications and 22 different combinations to be exact) still nothing.

    in september 2010 i entered a treatment facility for depression and suicidal thoughts (never attempted) and was placed on 600mg of lithium. within 24 hours the side effects began-tremors in my hands and legs, extreme thirst, constant urination, head ache, nausea, dizziness and vomiting. i have definitely experienced negative side effects from other medications, but nothing like this. my doctor told me it would all go away, stay on the medication. over the next month the medication was increased from 600mg to 1500mg because of low lithium levels in my blood, and along with that increase came the increase in severity of the side effects. tremors became worse, migranes began, nausea increased and i felt very out of body. not trying to be over dramatic, but i honestly felt like i was dying. i tried to explain to my doctor how miserable i was feeling and every time the same response-you will be fine. your body is just trying to adjust. everything is normal. fast forward 6 months later-still taking 1500mg along with 40mg of celexa. some of the side effects subsided but i was still constantly nauseous, vomiting a couple times a week and had migranes at least once a week. along with all of that i gained 40 lbs and had cystic acne. i have always been thin (i was 5″9, 140lbs) and could count on one hand how many times i had ever had a zit. things had dramatically changed and to put the icing on the cake i was still very depressed and had not noticed a single change in my mental state (still going to therapy as well). now i could be the biggest idiot in the world, but i continued to take the medication. my doctor, well aware of everything going on, insisted i stay on it, claiming my body would get used to it. i gave it 5 more months and then could not take it anymore. being sick all the time was making my depression and mood worse. i saw my doctor one last time to let her know i wasnt coming back and she told me that she had been out of options for a while so it was probably best i saw some else. i was livid! she put me through this for over a year because she ran out of options and didnt know what else to do? i dont think i have ever ben so angry in my entire life.

    i started seeing a new doctor in november 2011 and he agreed that i should no longer stay on lithium. i have currently have been off lithium for almost 2 months. i thought all of these crazy side effects would go away and was extremely happy i had lost 27 lbs of the 50 lbs i gained but thats were it stops. still extremely nauseous, vomiting happens daily, migranes, the whole deal and after some testing i found out i now have a thyroid problem and my kidneys are shot. oh and still depressed.

    sure i may have been able to prevent some of these health issues if i would have listened to my body and stopped the lithium when i wasnt getting better, but i am so desperate to find something that will work for me and having a “professional” insisting lithium was the only answer didnt help. im just SO tired of feeling like a freak of nature whose body wont respond positively to medication. if anyone has experienced anything remotely close to any of this please please please respond. i would feel a great deal of comfort knowing im not the only one

    • Kathy said

      In this day and age of the expectation of immediate results, something I had to say to my Dr. and hubby over and over agin during the mere 2months of experimentation with different psychotic drugs/ that everything I read, it would take 2 months. AND in our case he is now stablized.
      BUT eating like CRAZY , but NOT nearly as tired. We after to blood work ups checking the Lithium/ Thyroid pconcerns- we do have an appointment with an endocronologist to see how damaging to the throid the Lithium/300 mgs, is and if, since we’ve had success, is it worth staying on it. I will keep you posted.

    • Angela O. said

      It doesn’t sound like your bipolar – sounds like your unipolar – depressed. In my understanding, Lithium usually doesn’t work with depression only: and the reverse is true – anti-depressants can make bipolar worse – rapidly cycle or becoming maniac. I hope you find something for your depression. Essential fatty acids help everyone and you may need to go through a supervised detoxification program to eleminate the lithium buildup in the fat cells.

    • Haley said

      Could be a gluten allergy- ?

  48. Kathy said

    Sorry for all the typos! had a glass and a half of wine!

  49. Tim said

    I’ve used Lithium for about 5 years before that Trileptal and Depakote. Lithium works great just the weight gain: hard to lose it!

  50. Kathy said

    Ugh. Yes, he’s eating like CRAZY and is so chubby now. Frustrating. going to endocronologist tomorrow.

  51. Dorota said

    People, you HAVE to understand that lithium is NOT making you fat!!!! When a person eats, generally the brain says: ok im full I had enough. The satiety feeling doesnt happen with lithium because that message is blocked. STILL, lithium is not making you fat. You have to control your portions and eat healthy. thats what i did and i lost 22lbs and im on 1200mg of lithium since last summer. Im sorry, but you got your information all wrong about lithium. Make sure you eat well, control your eating habits and exercise if possible. You wont get fat.

    • Meru said

      Hi Dorota cud u please throw a light on the negitive side effects of lithium if it does have or if it has been researched . Im taking lithium 900 mg since 10 years and at present im 26.
      Thanks and Good luck!!

  52. Sai said

    I completely disagree with Dorota. I was on 800mg Lithium for over 3-yrs and I steadily gained weight. It is probably possible for some very disciplined person to avoid getting fat, but for most people, it is difficult.

    I gave up Lithium (gradually) by November 2011 and now I am losing weight. Not only that, my creatinine and thyroid levels are also improving. Frequent urge to urinate is also gone.

    • Allison said

      Seroquel is even worse with that. Maybe bc I just started it recently. But if your insurance can pay for it, it’s really good at night as a sedative. I took Lithium for so long that it took away my desire to eat as much simply because it changed the taste of food and you have to take it with food, or you’ll feel nauseus, so I had to make myself eat morning, noon and night.

      • Kathy said

        Fortunately he has not complained of being nauseous. on too high a dose of Serequel XR he had muscle cramps/wet palms/shaky legs/ and vivid dreams. Been no easy road to get to where we are. Hope he stays stabile.

  53. Kathy said

    Boy is that mean. My son just turned 18 and he has no memory of the horror that came into our lives 2 months ago with his bi polar/mania. NO THE LITHIUM IS NOT CHEMICALLY MAKING HIM FAT, but he has an insatiable hunger! I just spent 90 minutes at the grocery store buying every thing from whole carrotts/ to water melon/ to red/yellow & green peppers. Strawberries/ soy beans but he is eating cereals and corn muffins too! We go through so much milk. We are off to the endocronolgist now. Hoping for some advice.

  54. Sai said

    Kathy, I didn’t mean it to come out that way… agreed, Lithium doesn’t chemically make one fat (like a bucket of Haagen-Dazs, for example); but the fact that it alters your thyroid gland, making you hungry all the time, you are bound to keep eating something or the other. All the calories do add up, don’t you think?

  55. Kathy said

    The doctor today does not think it’s the Lithium, the blood work he saw from previous lab work doesn’t reveal a problem and he has no other hypo thyroid syptoms otherwise.
    Thank goodness. Didn’t want to chase that, I mean by there being a problem and having to give a thyroid med for aside effect ugh.
    The endocronologist believes it’s the Serequel XR/ Lexapro most likely causing the appetite. BUT still having EXTENSIVE bloodwork tomorrow 8am. NO EATING! HA! Bet my hubby takes him for a huge breakfast afterward! So depressing. He was 150 pounds and in 6 weeks is now 179.

  56. Allison said

    Lithium is probably the purest form of a mood stabilizer there is. The others are more man-made but the side effects are similar. (because I’ve taken lithium 15 years and tried most of the other ones.) I had a hard time working taking Lithium because of the sedation mainly during morning hours. If I got a job that starts after 10 am it was so much better. It was definitely not safe for me to drive to work before 9 am the first 15 years of taking Lithium, but if you get a job that’s after 10 and are aware of all of the other side effects while working, then it is completely safe.

  57. Kathy said

    I give him his entire med dose at 10pm. This seems to have done the trick in regard to not being too sleepy.

  58. Dani.Park said

    Twenty eight years on 400mgs of Lithium. Weaned off GRADUALLY over six months,weight gain due to over eating due to abnormal appetite!
    Have just had my first nights proper sleep after one appointment with a cranial osteopath – must be CRANIAL – very gentle and non-invasive.
    After the horrors of bipolar experiences we should not forget that disciplines other than psychiatry can help us to heal.
    Love and light to you all.

  59. Kathy said

    cranial osteopath- I know a man that does that in my area.

  60. Elisa said

    I have found Lithium to be only mood-stabilizer that works for me. I’ve tried Seroquel (gained 20lbs), Ability, Zyprexa, etc. But I have been on Lithium 1800mg/day for 3 years now (started with 900mg/day), I never necessairly gained weight but I can’t lose weight. I drink almost a gallon of water a day because of Lithium. But recently I

    started looking back and noticed I lost my ambition, my drive, to do what needs to be done. It’s almost like the mania was my way to get things done. I’m just indifferent about most things now.
    It’s not depression because I would have many more symptoms. Has anyone else felt that from Lithium?

  61. Kathy said

    My son is only on 300 mg & 375 of Serequel. Only seeming side effect is the ‘abnormal excessive appetite.’ He just ate a tone of grapes and carrots but of course he’s eating cereal- huge bowl- and grahm crackers and stuff.

    • Elisa said

      It’s most likely the Seroquel that is going to cause weight gain (I gained 20lbs in 6-7months, ate allll the time) and drowsiness. Lithium is better with the weight gain and less drowsiness.

  62. Kathy said

    My poor son lost 23 pounds in two weeks when he was on Abilify because he had Kathaisis (means ‘not to sit in the GREEK’) and when he wasn’t responding and had the mania there was no eating only gagging/repulsed at the sensation of food. This is all within 2 and a half months! He lost 23 and gained 30! UGH! I’m trying to get him to grab as much healthy stuff as possible-but it’s the quanity!

  63. Reezwan said

    Taking high lithium leads to hypothyroidism, so that is why you must supplement with at least 12.5mg of Lugol’s Iodine every day. This will also help you reverse the weight gain. If you do your research you will find that it is better to take 50mg of Lugol’s Iodine for 3 months and then come down to 12.5mg.

    Secondly, I highly recommend supplementing with Lithium Orotate. Lithium Orotate is 20x more bio-available than Lithium Carbonate, so you have to take 20x less to get the same effect.

    I am switching from Seroquel to Lamictal slowly. Wish me luck. I am quite scared that I might not be able to sleep without Seroquel as I have been taking it for almost 3 years, but the Seroquel is making my blood sugar and triglycerides too high, according to my doctor.

    I have Bipolar 1 so I have a tendency to become manic. Would lamictal help with the mania problem?

    My doctor intends to keep me on both Lithium and Lamictal but I feel I will need another anti-psychotic for mania prevention. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    • Elisa said

      Lithium should keep the hypomania in check. No other meds are needed for that. If anything, when you have a depressive episode you might need to be put on an anti-depressant (BUT ONLY if you are on a mood stabilizer first) for some time.

      I’ve been Bipolar 1 for 4 years, been on Lithium 1800mg and Risperdone 3mg (weaning off of this).

  64. Kathy said

    I took my son to the endocrologist and his levels are fine. Thank goodness. Weight gain from Serequel XR. Ferocious appetite, 30 pond weight gain. Troubling. Reduced Serequel from 450-350 and will see dr. Tuesday.

  65. Tom LC said

    I have been diagnosed with Bi-Polar 2- I was sectioned twice last year. I was on very heavy meds- like olanzapine, halaperadol, resperadone, valium, sleeping tablets etc. My mania started after I was given olanzapine. I came out of the hospital like a 90 year old man- (im 30) I had hyper salavation, rigid muscles and chronic insommnia.
    Life was a living hell. I was then put on Lithium. It was fantastic to be off the anti pycotics. The first week I was very positive about Lithuim- But I still couldnt sleep- my throat closed up and i sufferd big headaces- I stayed on Lithuim for 3 months and it was horrible- I had pains in my kydneys, i peed like a race horse! and i had no emotions. – I could only think of myself and I was living a half life. I was told if i quit the lithium i would almost certainly re-lapse. well i told my wife that i wanted to try without the lithium and she was horrified as was all my friends and family. The first week i quit i started waking up. The first thing i relized was how distant my wife was with me. I then came to reliese that my un rational thoughts that lead to my sectioning were totaly fabricated from 6 days no sleep when my father hung himself. I laid my demons to rest. I then was petrified that any stress would tip me over the edge but nothing. I have achived more in the last month than i did all last year. I am not manic and my pshc says that im clearly better of the meds. My friends and family now even question if i have bi polar at all. I beleve that we are far to quick to section and medicate (poison) patients. I pray for all other patients becuase it truly is hell on earth- if i hadnt had the strength i could of been on the lithuim for years and years- Lithium is a half life- Its a poison that restricts the blood flow around your brain. I feel the pain for close family and friends too- the mean to help but take the doctors word above all else and can cause more harm than good. check out bi-polar or waking up on you tube- it gave me the strenth to just say no!- God made you perfect. Never forget that.

  66. L said

    I couldn’t agree more. Experiment carefully, as YMMV, but this was my experience. I came back to life. I feel that i know more about my reactions/swings now, so I am cautious but not too hyper-vigilant.

    Doctors can help, but they are NEVER the last word. They can also do more harm than good. Let’s detach from eternal authority figures and learn to trust ourselves, at least when we can.

  67. Kathy said

    That is the real issue, that the meds mimic the actual illness so you don’t know if you are having side effects or mania! My son is on so much less than originally, 300 lithium & 350 Serequel XR. No joint pain, no shaking and sweaty palms/legs/feet, no over tired but still has abnormally large appetite.

  68. Alice said

    I started on lithium a few months ago, which was when I was first diagnosed as being bipolar. This was actually my first choice, because I had recognized the name, and knew it has worked for many other people.

    It actually worked very well — better than I expected at least. And I started taking Celexa along side it.

    Only problem is that within my recent blood testing, they found out that the lithium was bothering something(I think it had something to do with my thyroid) so now I have to come off of it, and try something else…and I’m a bit nervous that nothing will be able to work as well as this has. I’m a little terrified of falling again into those manic stages again–now more then before, since now I know what “normal” feels like, and I can see how crazy some of my ups and downs made me act, and feel.

    • Kathy (for Richard) said

      We had tried Ambilfy(BAD SIDE EFFECTS) & Serequel XR on their own and did not have results until we added the Lithium. My son went to an Endocronoligist and had a full blood work up, and fortunately it is not effecting his Thyroid. The issue is though, that one of the drugs is causing an insatiable appetite and he has gained 30 pounds. He has adjusted nicely otherwise and is no longer overtired but the Dr. says he actually is on ‘baby doses’. 350 of the Serequel XR/ 300 mg of Lithium and 10 miligrams of Lexapro.
      We finally got a diagnosis of ‘Schizophreniform’, not Bi Polar with Mania as first was decided. 2/3 of people with this diagnosis do evolve into regular Schizophrenia. We are hoping that his, triggered by intense bullying, now that he has been removed from the situation will not develop into Schizophrenia. Though as a Mom, I know he will always have a ‘mood disorder’. What we originally felt as a family as just being immaturity and a ‘bad temper’ , we now recognize as some type of ‘mood disorder’.

  69. Dani Park said

    All medication takers should be aware of the side effects of their drugs.
    Drug Muggers by Suzy Cohen (a well qualified pharmacist) spells it out in no uncertain terms.

  70. Tim said

    My biggest issues with Lithium is weight gain and tremors other than that it works great for my Bipolar I problems.

  71. Ahh good old Lithium

    I can relate with so much here
    quite often I question is it right for me
    I am 37 and been taking Meds one form or another for over 20 years
    Unless you count the couple of times I quit everything out of anger and quite disbelief that my condition is what it is
    However there is no secret what happens to me when I fly solo
    A mess
    Now for years the Mental Ghetto had me
    I convinced myself I could not work and was minimally exceptional
    I took some different Meds
    They told me I was psychotic depressive, then they were wrong
    They the doctors said I was Obsessive compulsive again they were wrong,
    Then I had anxiety issues
    How about life issues
    Well I wiped out the rest of my teen years and the most of my twenties wrestling with different prescriptions
    beefing out to 270
    when I am supposed to be 190
    Oh yes I have tried to kill myself because I felt hopeless and ashamed that I could never get it right
    I have been in the hospital 20 times, I don’t like when they tell I can’t leave and it’s for the best
    Then why am I out
    They say I have Manic Depression sorry they call it Bi Polar now
    This label doesn’t change anything just confuses people even more

    Lithium all along with so many other pills I have taken it over the years
    I used to get stoned off weed, and drink quite a bit
    I don’t anymore, it is the only chance I have
    I just take lithium even though the doctors demands I take epival as well
    I don’t listen to them
    I function as best as I can, I struggle with people myself and life but I soldier through
    It is me who does the work, I know Lithium is there and I am kind of mad because I think if I quit everything than I may fall apart because of my brain and body’ s inability to deal with life
    I have a good job and a lot of other things going for me.
    If I walk the plank right now The hospital will most likely reel me in
    Such a painful reality but one day when the time is right I will make the move I just hope it’s not another 20 years


  72. Kathy (for Richard) said

    MICHAEL- it’s not your brain and body’s inability to deal with life. It’s the chemicals with in the brain that are misfiring and causing the synopsis to malfunction so your intrepretation of life gets scrambled. Do not BLAME yourself.
    I just started on this with my son. He has always, since birth struggled with a ‘mood disorder’, everyone just said I spoil him. I felt he would eventually become bi polar, and as other family members have done, use illegal narcotics and alchohol to cope. Now that he has been diagnosed with Schizophreniform Disorder , he is on meds.
    MY struggle now that he is stabalized, is he in the group of the 2/3rds of teens who develop into schizophrenia or is he taking meds he no longer needs. If THIS is the case, and I wean him off the 350mgs of Serequel & 300mgs of Lithium, the ‘withdrawal’ can mimic seemingly psychotic behavior. How does one know? I am calling the Dr. today. His weight gain so far is 40 pounds in 3 months. Everyone says that’s not accurate because he was 173 pounds/ lost 23 pounds while on Abilfy (side effects Kathaisis) now on the Serequel & Lithium he is 193 pounds but the meds brought him to ‘normal’. We had 8 weeks of psychosis, it was an amazing and frightening experience.

    • E said

      Weaning him off of medication without a doctor’s supervision isn’t advised. Although Seroquel and Lithium shouldn’t be hard to get off of. Maybe decrease by 50mg a day. The “withdrawal” isn’t a physical dependency “withdrawal”, there may be some Rebound psychotic symptoms if stopped abruptly. I will definitely say he has gained weight because of the Seroquel, it is a huge side effect from it. Which is why I would suggest increasing the Lithium to 900mg (Lithium IS NOT even therapeutic/effective under 900mg), get a baseline Lithium level, and STOP the Seroquel. If he has delusions or hallucinations, an anti-psychotic is a Much better choice like Risperdol. Good luck. Talk with the psychiatrist.

  73. Kathy (for Richard) said

    I wouldn’t do ANYTHING without talking to his Dr. He’s calling me tonight. I just reread what I wrote- I jmeant I would ust would wean him down from 350 to 300 of the Serequel XR. We had him at 600 at one time which was too much, side effects kicked in, and once the lithium was added that seemed to be the magic bullet. It took the entire 8 weeks from onset to come to a point of no more manic/delussional behavior. I know that most mental illness cannot be cured, but if he can take a lower dose and still have it be effective AND perhaps curb his insatiable appetite, I’d opt for trying that. When I read the combinations/ and the dosages that are so much higher than what my son takes/ I feel like saying of course you’re tired! Seems like the side effects of too much meds mimics the mental illness, so how can anyone KNOW!?!

    • Kathy (for Richard) said

      PS- He has been to an Endocronologist to have his levels checked and was advised that the Lithium was not causing and Hypothyroid

  74. MissyP said

    I have just been prescribed Peridal 400 mg I’ve taken it for the first time tonight and have been woken with sore hands and feet. My hands feel ok now but my feet are still sore, like I’ve been walking in high heels all night. Is this due to the drug or am I just being anxious? Anyone else heard of this being a side effect? I don’t know if the drug begins to take effect immediately or over time. I also take prothiaden and nortem along with diazepam – thanks x

  75. Kathy for Richard said

    INSATIABLE APPETITE- Controling it….Yeah? Tell that to my recently diagnosed 18 year old son.

  76. Dani Park said

    Read ‘Drug Muggers’ by Suzy Cohen RPh. Put back the vitamins and nutrients the meds are leeching and replace your need for doctors with less destructive people. Ease off the meds ever so s-l-o-w-l-y over many months, your mind and body will tell you when to stop coming off them and what amount you need to stay on to function well.I took 200 mgs Lithium daily for 1 yr then 200 mgs on alternate days ever since-I feel fine now.

  77. Kathy for Richard said

    Thanks, that’s the plan

  78. vincent lee said

    I thought I read that Dr. Jamison was on the subtherapuetic level of 300 mg. of lithium. Is this accurate?

    • Duzenelli said

      As far as I understand the therapeutic value of lithium varies from person to person, so it isn’t the dosage (300 mg) you should be looking at, rather the blood level ex. 0.6-0.8 on the low (maintenance/prophylaxis) end of the spectrum. I’m not certain the higher levels, but I know that higher blood levels are aimed for during crisis times or manic times.

      • Duzenelli said

        I meant to also add that dosing depends on the person, so one individual taking 300 mg for example might be at a different blood level than another person. I’ve noticed that a few people have posted saying that they are on upwards of 1200mg while others are at significantly lower doses, I assume it all depends on how your body processes/metabolizes it.

  79. Jane said

    I’ve been on Lamictal as mono therapy for over 7 years now. I mainly have bipolar depression, but anti-depressants made me mixed/manic. I loved Lamictal at first, but it seemed to turn on me in the last couple of years. Every time I went past 100 mg it caused a terrible mixed episode. So, in January of this year, my GP put me on Lithium Carbonate XR 600 mg. All I can say is….where have you been all my life? I love the Lithium! I’m about to give Lamictal the boot (so long anger and irritability) and stay on the Lithium by itself. I feel very normal for the first time ever. I was never “even” on Lamictal, and in my opinion, Lamictal is a very poor mood stabilizer. All it seems to do is take you out of depression and right into mania. I have not gained any weight whatsoever with Lithium and have had little side effects. So thankful I found this drug.

    • Sally Jo said


      I like so many people like to compare Lithium and Lamictal. Yes they are both mood stabilizers AND that is where the similarity ends. Lithium stabilizes the manic energy/episodes. Where Lamictal addresses the depression. They each do there own thing and if you are bi-polar as I am. Both medications in your system will work for the balance

    • Karen said

      I had the same reaction to Lamital. I have read reviews on Lamictal. Men seem to benefit from Lamital however all the reviews from women were negative.

  80. sal said

    I’ve been on 1200mg of Lithium for the past 2 weeks. and 15 mg of remeron. The combination is fine I have no side affects other than somewhat restless sleep. But nothing big. I am extremely paranoid of developing Thyroid problems after hearing all of these different patients having the problems, from smaller doses than my own!. I am going to ween myself off of the lithium as to not shock my system. I was in a psychiatric hospital for my drug addiction which leads me to extreme highs and lows. I’ve never been off the drugs so how do I know how my normal brain function is?? I’ve been clean for the past 2 weeks that I started the lithium. They took 1 blood test last week. And from what I know it was at the appropriate range. But I will not continue taking the medicine if it is going to cause medical problems FUCK THAT….. All I need to do is gain 20 lbs and find out I have a bad thyroid or kidney and I’ll wind up back in the psych ward. I think for the next 5 days and nights I will lower to 900 a day (600mg morning,300 night ) Then 5 days at 600 (300mg morning,300mg night) then 5 days just 300mg morning. I think that slow taper will prevent my bother from going through any type of withdrawals. I don’t want to be trapped in this pharmaceutical game these companies and doctors want us all to FAIL at…. (aka – keep filling the prescription and shut the fuck up) No sir ree . I’m a soon to be 22 year old good looking dude and I just have a problem with narcotics, don’t need to take these hardcore psych meds. Anyway any input is greatly appreciated as starting tonight I’m only taking 1x 300mg versus the prescribed 2x300mg pills.

  81. Kathy (for Richard) said

    Careful. Playin with fire dosing yourself. I’m taking my son down from the Serequel XR 25mgs over a few week period til he’s down from 350 to 300. BUT I asked the physician first. My son has no issues with the Lithium,. He went to an Endocronologist. It’s the Serequel that’s wacking out he’s hunger /full synopsis’

  82. Lisa said

    I have been on Lithium for 19yrs now, diagnosed bipolar when I was 25. I have tried to lower the dose a few times on my own, but everytime I would feel good for about 4-6 weeks and then crash and burn. In the past 5 years I have also been taking 75mg Effexor daily, 900 mg Lithium. I have developed a goiter – an enlarged thyroid which so far is still funtioning normally but is monitored by an endocrinologist. Recently my labs came back showing a high calcium level which prompted my endo to refer me to a thyroid surgeon. Well, he determined that the lithium is causing hyperparathyroidism, which means my parathyroid glands are secreting too much PTH and making my calcium level high. My option was to have a parathyroidectomy or discontinue the lithium, which may or may not solve the problem. So I opted to have the surgery, which ended up being way more of an ordeal than I anticipated….and now 45 days later my doctor says my labs are exactly the same…so I still have high calcium and PTH and he took out 2 of the 4 parathyroid glands. Great. Now what do I do? Just wanted to share my experience and see if anyone out there can relate or has suggestions on alternate meds…:)

    • Sally Jo said

      Lisa-you my friend have gone through a great deal physically in the attempt to balance your life. I have been on lithium for 20 years. Until recently I only payed attention to the immediate side-effects NOW I want to know more about down the road. When I read your words “crash and burn” sounded like depression had struck you once again. I TOTALLY recommend Lamictal to balance the depression. Lithium is for mania not depression.I had been taking 900mg of Lithium for years. This past year I dropped to 600mg and my blood work shows I am (just) within range.Take good care of yourself

  83. Amy said

    Thanks for writing this. I’ve struggled with the same things. I’m bipolar2, and lamectil didn’t work for me.

  84. R J said

    I recently started taking Lecithin supplements because many people are saying the Choline in it helps control mania. Anyone out there try it yet? Thanks.

  85. Dani Park said

    Has anyone out there developed manic depression/bi polar disease without any contributing factors?
    Overload the brain chemistry with the stresses of partnership breakup,money problems,overwork,bereavement of beloved persons and animal pets,health problems,difficult kids,separation,moving away from the familiar,bullying, rape and incest,addictions and fears,is it any wonder then,that something has got to give?
    A scrambled brain needs more than just chemicals to recover
    and how about some serious research into taking preventative measures before the brain chemistry overload takes place?

    • JustAHaze said

      Dani- I appreciate your comment :) I’ve been through depressive and anxious spurts out of my control. Reoccurance or traumas DO happen. I’m 27 and was diagnosed with bipolar 2 and PTSD from several stressors you mentioned above. Scrambled brain or racing thoughts distort the brain and many times it is imposible prioritize and ration with those constant thoughts during mania. And depression..psht..forget about accomplishing much! I just began taking an antidepressant AND mood stabilizer, and while I do believe medicine can be helpful, I am more into the ascpect of psychotherapy techniques. Unfortunately, it is easier to get meds than recieve therapy and learning cognitive methods of dealing with issues.
      I have not done much research in preventative measures, and assume it is controversal but will be doing scholary seaches in my upcoming psychology class. Thanks for the tip! The one thing I AM worried about is I read blogs on bipolar individuals whom are very artistic and sometimes medications interfere with that. The so-called mania promotes a euorephric effect that drives a person to be creative on many different levels. My thing is research, literature, and recently journaling…I couldn’t imagine becoming a vegetable without passions. I am more into trying a healthy lifestyle of exercise and nutrition. Oh, and therapy once I get the referal.

  86. Kathy (for Richard) said

    My 18 year old son developed a full blown Schizophreniform Disorder directly related to being bullied in school. At the start of this year he thought he’d be able to handle it, the bullies, by the end of October he became manic in what seemed a positive way, defending himself verbally, but somewhere within a week’s time he went into full blown paranoia and is now out of school on Home Instruction and taking Serequel X R and Lithium/ as well as Lexapro/ the drs think it’s bi polar now. That hopefully he will not develop Schizophrenia. 2/3 of kids do after first episode onset.

  87. Kathy (for Richard) said

    I am 53 years old and in the 70’s smoked pot with my friends. Never enjoyed it. AND I definitely was ADHD though there was no such ‘thing’ back then. I have several friends who are also ADHD as adults and do enjoy the effects of pot, STILL! They do actually ‘live’ high. MY FEAR was that my son who has, since birth had a ‘mood disorder’, would eventually use pot and alcohol to balance himself out. I am happier that this situation came to a head and that he is on legal meds. I AM concerned that he may not NEED the Serequel XR anymore, but he takes three hundred mgs., now. He had terrible side effects at 600mgs, so we reduced to 450mgs and added Lithium. THAT, I think, the Lithium did the trick. So I suffer. I worry that if he’s brain chemicals have become balanced, is being on an antipsychoitc hurting him? From 450 to 300 over the course of a few months. Do I coninue to slowly wean him off and just stick with the Lithium and Lexapro? We will see his Endocronologist on the 11th and then his Psychiatrist the next month. He is NOT in school right now, dealing with kids….but maybe it’s best to keep him on these doses til he gets back to a school setting/ hopefully soon. We shall see. I saw 20/20 last night and boy! I am glad we have what we have and not violent psychotic!

  88. Kathy (for Richard) said

    We have insurance, so I don’t know the cost.(Well I do actually, because they couldn’t process my credit card one day and it would have been 800 dollars for 30 pills, ridiculous) All I know is that smoking pot would not have brought him out of his psychotic state. It was soooo frightening. It took 8 full weeks to come up with the ‘dosage’ but with everything I read, any psychotic he would have been on, all that he was on, consistantly, takes 8 weeks in your system to work. Again, I’m not a ‘cannabis’ fan. Is there specific ‘dosing’ for that, or you just smoke til you’re doped?
    He became completely manic- overly upbeat- visions of grandier (sp?) on the 3rd of November. By November 7th he was beginning to be delusional, by the 10th of November he took his first Abilify.5mgs.That worked for 10 ten days then, even on the lowest dosage(15mgs) he began to have Kathaisis (in the Greek- ‘not to sit’.) He lost 20 pounds. Fortunately he needed to anyway, but what the heck? We thought it was the psychosis at first, then found out it was the meds? I think that is the problem with most of the people on these crazy high dosages of meds. They think they need more/ and really it’s side effects!
    So now he is on, in comparison to others low dosages and an anti depressant. He is ‘normal’ except for EXCESSIVE weight gain due to insatiable appetite. Hence, following up with endocronolgist. He suggested a dietician. I lowered his Serequel dosage by 50mgs and I am telling you his appetite is much decreased.
    Now the battle to get off the 30 pounds. He is doing Karate twice a week. Good work out.

  89. Pythia said

    Dear Commenters,

    I just wanted to let you know that I have temporarily disallowed new comments. The title of the page is “Lithium,” and while most of you are limiting your comments to that topic and your experiences with lithium and other prescription psych meds as well as a discussion of bipolar disorder, manic-depression, and uni-polar depression, some recent comments have veered off in a direction with which I am not comfortable. Self-medication, religion, and anti-prescription drug messages are not welcome topics here.

    I am happy that so many people have found my blog a forum for sharing their experiences, and I would like to continue to provide that space. It seems, however, that it is time to put a stop to both my laziness and the distracting comments and start moderating the discussion. Therefore, I am taking this opportunity to unapprove several of comments that I feel uncomfortable with.

    Yes, this is censorship. No, I am not violating your First Amendment rights, as I am not the government. Yes, this is a (semi)public forum; however, it is only as public as my front yard. I am responsible for the content, and I prefer not to have weeds growing in it.

    I intend to open commenting back up once I have cleaned things up a bit. Sorry for the inconvenience.

    The New Moderator

  90. anonymous said

    The long term affects of this drug should be closely monitered by a doctor and for the paiteints who have had their lives ruined. By this deserve monentary compensation as it leaves some with the inabilty to have normal lives

  91. Kathy (for Richard) said

    We are down to 300 Serequel & 300 Lithium. Have to call about bloodwork results this week. Richard has gained 30 pounds since January 25th. We are seeing a dietician. He is keeping a food intake log. I am doing no better with my own weight! Sympathetic & stress eater!

  92. Jon Smith III said

    Jon 4.29.12 I was placed on Li Carb 35 yrs ago to help boost my antidepressant for unipolar depression along w/ a tricyclic. I was given no warnings and took 400 mg almost the entire time. Six years ago I was found to have ESRD. Five years ago dialysis. Six mos ago transplant which has been a tremendous sucess. However, the ravages of dialysis continue to plague. Whatever you do, DON’T open yourself to this risk. If it doesnt eventually cause your death, you will live to regret your decisions. I praay for people like me every day!

  93. Matt A said

    I recently discontinued the use of Lithium. While it does present excellent mood stabilizing effects and is in my opinion one of the most effective psych meds out there, the mind-dulling side effects and dampering of creativity and sensory input made me decide (for the 4th time actually) to try and get off of it. HOWEVER, I am also on 3 mg of risperidal, so I figured the risperidal would deal with some of the things the lithium was first prescribed for. For the writer of this blog, or anyone else, I’m wondering how Lithium effects the right side of the brain. I found that each time I restarted on Lithium, my creativity went downhill but my math and organization skills went up. A doctor I was working along with once said that Lithium will make you believe your right side of your brain LESS. I guess this makes sense since when I ever started to become manic I seemed to believe everything the right side of my brain was feeding me. Lithium also seems to act as a sensory-blanket of sorts. When not on it, everywhere I go (especially the grocery store heh) is so vibrant with color and depth. But when on it, things are pretty mundane and balanced. Unfortunatly, reality is kinda boring, and this has led me to play around with my meds a whole lot in the past years. I think the goal is to find a life-routine that sticks where you can function with the most minimal amount of meds that work. This means being able to get up on time and go to work, function effectively, have healthy interpersonal relationships and sleep well at night. If you can do all that on the meds you’re on, I’d recommend you stick with em. If you have trouble, try something new. We are an adaptable species. Anyways, I’ve already written more than I thought I would, hope you all are well. Good luck. Matt

  94. Grace said

    My side effects over the past twelve years from Lithium-NO sex drive, rash from both ears down to and around my adams apple, a lost foggy feeling with rarely having ANY feelings, CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) stage 4. Why do I take Lithium? It is the only drug that brought me from the deep hole of darkness. I don’t know whether to love it or hate it but I am sticking with it until something better comes along. The saddest part of all this is when I tell someone I love them, I really don’t feel the emotion….
    I truly am a zombie.
    Good Luck to you all,

  95. VH said

    I was diagnosed as BP 1 in Dec 2009 aged 33, having suffered with it for over 21 years. I was started on 600mg Lithium (Priadel) then gradually increased up to 1000mg. I also take 60mg Duloxetine and 25mg Buspar (buspirone) a day. I feel like my life is slowly coming back to me. Actually, no: I feel like I am slowly getting the life I SHOULD have had, if I’d only been diagnosed earlier. I have also just finished 3 years of CBT counselling. I am so grateful for all of these treatments, because I now feel like I am actually having a positive life. I’m £165k in debt due to the BP, but I am coping with it. Still unable to work, but my children are my Work in Progress right now :-)

    My only regret is that I was not taken for treatment earlier. My parents hid me away, denied me medical treatment when I so desperately needed it. But I now have my whole life ahead of me. I don’t understand why people are so scared of the “stigma” of BP and lithium. I mean, on a logical level, taking a few (or 26 in my case!) tablets everyday in exchange for a normalized life: I can deal with that. Admittedly, I hate the fact my IQ has dropped a fair few points. I used to have an IQ of 158, now it’s 138 on a good day. But then I ask myself this: what point is there in having a high IQ and not being able to function at a daily level? I’ll take my dumb-downed version and enjoy my husband and children, thank you very much!

    I’m off to chow down on some carrot sticks *picks entire field of carrots and drools hungrily*

    Wishing you and all of your families the best,


  96. VH said

    Hi again everyone!

    I don’t suppose I can bend your ears for a few secs, can I?

    I have been unable to take my Lithium for 7 days now due to a vomiting virus (thanks kids!). I’ve been unsuccessful in getting through to the lithium nurse & my psychiatrist for weaning back onto it. I tried my GP, but he wouldn’t help because he didn’t prescribe it. NHS Direct said to contact my psychiatrist.. repeat cycle endlessly from here on in!

    Anyone know how best to do it?

    I’m prescribed 1000mg nocte – taken in the form of 2 x 400mg tablets and 1 x 200mg.

    Should I go:

    Day 1 – 1 x 400mg + 1 x 200mg
    Day 2 – 2 x 400mg
    Day 3 – 2 x 400mg + 1 x 200mg


    Day 1 – 1 x 400mg + 1 x 200mg
    Day 2 – 1 x 400mg + 1 x 200mg
    Day 3 – 2 x 400mg
    Day 4 – 2 x 400mg
    Day 5 – 2 x 400mg + 1 x 200mg
    Day 6 – 2 x 400mg + 1 x 200mg

    Or something completely different?

    I don’t want to go over the weekend without taking anything, because I can already feel myself getting manic again, although I appreciate that part of the feelings are withdrawal symptoms.

    Any help really appreciated, because the NHS has really knocked itself out this time!

    Thanks and fuzzy hugs


  97. Scott said

    Hello, I was just looking up the web for long term lithium side effects when i came across this blog, very helpful btw. I was diagnosed bi-polar axis II in 91′ while on active duty. I have been on and off lithium for all these years,mostly on. I would give everything i have to swing at the high end of the pole again! I’ve used all the meds available, with only Lamictil being effective as lithium. Unfortunately i developed a rash on my lips and had to stop. when i was younger lithium made me feel like i had a stuffy head, now i feel like i’ve had a pre-frontal labotomy. Just today I had to break-in a new shrinkmeister too my history. I told him I cannot get out of bed, it’s like i can think all day about what needs to be done but the thought never leaves the frontal cortex to fire up my spark plug. He say’s “well, your depressed” Reallly? and they give Phd’s to people like this. when I was 37 God further challenged me with FM/CFS, Bi-Polar’s nastier cousins, also called Gulf War Disease in military circles, this way the Department of Defense can avoid paying disability on a large scale. So this Dr. says, I see your general practitioner has you on cymbalta? I say’s yes,for pain control. he then tells me to jack it up to 60mg. a day, then 100 mg. So i told him ive got alot of stuff on board already, i’m going to have to jettison something, lithium,perhaps? he got all bent on that. I says look Doc, I told you I cant get out of bed,my quality of life is dirt, you wont prescribe a stimulant above provigil,what would you have me do? I guess we left it at that. It really stinks to loose a Dr. after seven years and start up all anew. My former shrink had three doctorates physc,neuro,intern. A real great man, he moved his practice to NW Arizona, Dr. Thomas Keller for anybody out that way looking for a Good Doc. He like my self understand depression, to be a symptom of a depressed/destressed central nervous system, and treated as such, no couch or talking about ones childhood,unless there was a issue. I believe time will show that most mental disorders originate with the CNS. Lithium is the standard for treating acute mania and for the most part singularly effective for mood stabilization. However there are many other drugs available now, it wont kill you to rotate them. Any one patient can count on trying over a dozen different med’s till they find the ones best for them. If your Dr. doesn’t see it this way,,,,fire him/her. if your young/er stay with the lithium as long as you can, people treated initially with lithium for a long period have been able to ween themselves and go for many month’s without a relapse, you just got to be experienced enough to know when mania begins to rear its ugly head. As for myself, I will be weening myself of the salts,I’ve lost almost everything to my diseases i will not loose my life or quality/quantity of life any further. Good Luck, and God bless. Scott “I never try anything, I just do it”

  98. Tracy said

    I just began Lithium treatment last night at a dose of 300 mg. I have been on Lamictal since 2005, and while I give it a rave review for its nearly non-existent side effect profile, it simply stopped working for me, at least at 300 mg., as I started having breakthrough depressive episodes. I was taken off of it in April by a dim-witted psychiatrist who, since I haven’t had a full-blown manic episode since 2005 (because of the Lamictal) decided that I must not have Bipolar. WRONG! He put me on Celexa, Prozac, Wellbutrin, Pamelor, and BuSpar — talk about kindling theory — and I promptly became suicidal and ridden with anxiety attacks (five a da), subsequently landing me in the hospital. I resumed Lamictal and stabilized and eventually titrated up to 400 mg. Whether there’s any correlation, I don’t know, but I noticed an increase in my already-rapid cycles and some dysphoric mania, which turned into hypomania and what would be sure mania had I not been started on Lithium. Sidenote: I first tried Depakote and it was a terrifying experience. After only four days I thought I was going to explode from pain and the rageful state it put me in. Anyway, so far the Lamictal/Lithium combo seems to be the one for me, and not a moment too soon! I’m so grateful and hope to be able to prove the nay-sayers who claim Lithium is “toxic/deadly/poison/etc” wrong! Perhaps it’s wishful thinking but my mind is clearer already. I will always defend pharmacology against alternative medicine and “natural” alternatives and advocates (see Margot Kidder). I’m glad to have found someone who feels the same. And thanks for the encouraging write-up.

  99. Ashley said

    I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at 15 and got put on Lamictal. I got the rash, & stayed off meds for about 2 years. A week ago I diagnosed with bipolar 2 and they started me on lithium. Just upped my dose to 600 mg and I was searching for answers. This blog helped a lot, but I’m still scared. anyone who’s been on lithium can I have some one on one advice?

  100. Sunshine said

    My psychopharmacology professor said pretty much ALL the things you did about lithium. Including the lithium/lamictal combo. And this professor was “tops” in several areas. So it’s good to hear the same things from someone prescribed these meds. Take care!

  101. Nicole said

    so, i am sitting in my doctors iffice at this very moment….and he is putting me on lithium. I have epilepsy as well as bp2. I have been on several epilepsy meds, most recently, lamictal, but I got the dreaded ‘rash’ when they upped my dosage due to continuing seizures…..most recent seizure was a week ago, so severe it led to a small stroke….i thought i was dead for 2 days! Since then, days have been nights and my mind hasn’t stopped racing. So, we will see what the lithium does. If nothing else, at least I can always plug myself into the Wii….I’m a battery now! :)

  102. Des said

    After years of fighting against continuous use of antidepressants and mood stabilisers, have eventually succumbed to Quilonum. On a 450 daily dose, the agression started leaving after two days and after only 7 days, I feel less irritable and frustrated with everything. These drugs are not supposed to kick in that fast.

    Can anyone give me an indication of what may be happeneing. Previously the mood stabiliser was coupled with antidepressants and I stopped because I could not really see the benefit. I also always ended up at the doctor in a depressed state and not in a manic state, which is what happened this time. I was also never on lithium before.

  103. Tracey said

    I have been on lithium 1200 mg a day for 7 yrs. I have arthritis but recently went off my meds due to lack of health ins. My joints seem to be less painful off the lithium. I have reg. lab test so no toxic levels. I have other meds but have been off those and nursing the

  104. Tracey said

    I have been on lithium 1200 mg a day for 7 yrs. I have arthritis but recently went off my meds due to lack of health ins. My joints seem to be less painful off the lithium. I have reg. lab test so no toxic levels. I have other meds but have been off those and nursing the lithium off and on to see if it was that. Does anyone else exp this. It has been a good drug as I also have tics and some schitsophrienia and it helps along with trazadone 200mg. tried lamictal with it works good but to expensive.

  105. Ace said

    I’m desperate for input from people with some perspective on lithium and the various reasons it’s prescribed. My history is long so I’ll provide a few quick references from my past then focus on recent events.

    I was just past 6 years of age when I first experienced sudden, extreme shifts in my mood from “normal” to super-mega hyper-manic that I can recall to this day (I’m 42 now). Ironically, at the time we lived on the grounds of a state mental hospital because my father was assigned the position by his employer, state Health and Welfare.

    Sometimes my manic episode would manifest outward as limitless energy, highly elevated mental and sensory acuity while remaing mostly lucid. Verbal and physical altercations were a frequent occurrence during which it seemed my opponent was mired in quicksand. My primary targets were mostly common bullies due to my empathy for the lows experienced by the victims humiliated and demeaned by those sociopaths. Mostly I just felt indestructable, took illogical risks, was certain my intelligence was above that of the majority (this was later proven out by many aptitude and IQ tests but I don’t share the fact often since I’ve consistantly achieved far below my supposed potential). It is entertaining to frustrate psych docs by interspersing my statements to them with numerous words outside their vocabulary!

    My internal episodes were mind-storms of mostly irrational thoughts about engaing in actions certain to cause me physcal harm. Other times I would plot and scheme elaborate plans for committing major crimes of mostly theft with some dramatic property destruction mixed in. I didn’t want to harm others so the extent of my destructive impulses include actions such as igniting a large field of wheat that was ready for harvest and very dry or engineering a way to apply principles of leverage which caused the epic collapse of a lengthy portion of a rocky cliff. Those who reported it as “the spontaneous dislodgment of one side of an entire mountain” were just seeking more dramatic headlines for their stories.

    Let me quicken the pace here with highlights that cover more time:

    –Manic without warning, episodes are short in duration.
    –Depressive, not episodal, I’m simply sad 90% of the time I’m not UP. You don’t have to be happy to experience fun.
    –Bedwetting, nightmares and disappering for hours to the age of 8 – I still wish I knew where I was when I was nowhere to be found?
    –Time continues to be a nemesis. I’m never on time, everything takes more time than it should, it’s rare that I can tell you the date right on the spot, the day of the week I usually have down, and almost always the month.
    –Pyromaniac, still, but switched to legal, socially accepted activities years ago
    –Alcohol and drug use by 11, abuse by 13, addiction soon after, but married at 19 with our 1st child at 20 so abuse ended while addiction lingered in the shadows.

    I like the manic me. I don’t like to sleep. Discovered ADD meds a few years back. Ended up with 3 sets of medical records, 3 doctors, and almost all the Adderall I needed. Early this year Adderall prices skyrocketed and I transitioned to immediate release Dexidrine. It was a good change. I hadn’t slept much for about 2 years and the dex allowed me to maintain my streak. A shutdown, blackout crash became almost a weekly event with my behaviour just before getting to be quite erratic. In April of this year, after working all night fueled by pills, engery shots, and coffee, I stopped by a large retailer to pick up some breakfast snacks on my way home. I got my snacks, paid for them and attempted to leave. But apparantly I had wandered the store (4:30am) for at least an hour during which time I used scraps of wire and other rubbish to constuct simple devices I then employed to defeat and remove electronic security alarms from a boxed laptops, external hard drives, etc. I didn’t attempt to leave the store with anything I hadn’t paid for but it has since come to light that throughout the holidays I may have generously gave very nice gifts to a number random acquaintances. If I did, some of the items included printers, large flat panel monitors, entire desktop computer systems – all in the original retail boxes.

    Alright. Busted. Locked up. Felony charges. Out on bail. Get a public defender. She can’t follow most of what I say. Order for psych eval. Findings = Manic narcissist in a state of granduer, handle with caution or I’ll manipulate you to my will. The trial is held out while I get 90 days of treatment. Should’ve been sent for a vacation in a state hospital but my preference is outpatient and so I’m out. The prosecutor is flipping but the judge was the only one I absolutely needed to “manipulate” successfully.

    Had my 1st visit last week and was prescribed Lithium. Still pounding down the stimulants but in a moment of clarity I went into shock as I realized it’s all coming down around me and the core reason is that I’m an addict. I haven’t shared any info about my passion for pills with the people in the system but at my appointment tomorrow I will. And I’ll beg for their help because this is a ridiculous reason to lose my family, my freedom, perhaps my life.

    Now my sincere request for input from anyone with a thought on this.:

    1 – Am I truly manic or are those normal hormonal swings followed by the effects of alcohol and drug dependancy?

    2 – Assuming the Lithium has any effect, is it possible for it or some other psych med to reveal a reality noticibility different than that to which I’m accustomed? (Question is derived based on what I’ve read on some forums. Stories that sound much more like the placebo effect playing out in the mind of a desperate individual who’s never experienced even a short period in their life where they had achieved power and affluence which they used to seek thrills limited only by human imagination)

    Thanks in advance. Ignore spelling errors please. I’m feeling positive and have a strong desire to go shopping.

    • D PARK said

      Dear Ace I couldn,t see any spelling errors and why weren’t you prescribed Lithium long ago?


  106. Shee said

    Ive just recently been diagnosed with bipolar and started my lithium about 3 or 4 weeks ago and My depression is still a major issue the doctor keeps telling me to wait it out but its getting frustrating as I am a new mom to a 7 month old and still have no interest in playing or interacting with my daughter its very upsetting. I also am terrified about the lithium,Ive read and heard so many things i dont know what to think! Someone please ease my mind in all this confusion!!!

  107. Tracey said

    I was also afraid of the lithium as I worked with developmentally disabled adults for a long time and saw bad side effects but it seems more monitored now I have been on lithium for 7 yrs it has been a lifesaver. I have been experiencing joint pain maybe from lithium but not sure. I get my levels checked every 6months. I still had depression and the doc added dep meds. Celexia seems to work the best so far for me. Give it time but don’t let the docs control u either It takes awhile sometimes to find the right one I’ve. It also takes awhile to get your meds right. Don’t be afraid be informed and moniter it. But if u have post partium maybe u will need some depression meds. just be open and honest with doc. I hope u do well.

  108. Hello. I have Bipolar I and depression. I was diagnosed with depression about 26 yrs and Bipolar illness about 10 yrs ago. I take 900 mg of lithium and am monitored every couple months which is very important to avoid serious complications, I also drink plenty of water which helps. I take Celexa, which is a generic name anti depressant. I need both to help with my issues. I found I have some side affects: lethargic, dry mouth, tremors (not enough water) and frequent urination.

  109. Anonymous Daughter said

    My mom was on Lithium for 27+/- years (my age!) and JUST went off of it about 2-3 weeks ago. The psychiatrist had to meet with both my mom and my dad before the doc would “let” my mom get off of it. After doing much research, I found that it can damage your kidneys and thyroid. Also, you MUST go off of it at least two weeks prior to having any surgeries since the concern is that Lithium might interfere with surgical procedures that involve anesthesia since Lithium affects the central nervous system – yikes! My mom will be having surgery for prolapse of her bladder in a few months, which is probably why the doctor got the ball rolling on her getting off of Lithium. Also, she is having MORE tests this coming week on her kidneys and thyroid.

    I’ve never known my mom not being on Lithium…
    I’ve been spending more time with her, and I’ve noticed she’s a lot more talkative, snippy, alert and sensitive. I read many of the comments above and now I fully understand when people said it numbs you. Someone else described it, “as if your brain was ‘wrapped in cotton'” and I totally get it now – that’s how she used to be! My dad even said he feels like he’s living with a different person. Anyway, I hope and pray that it goes well, I don’t believe in 95% of prescribed medications so am happy my mom is finally off of it, but again, reading the commentary kind of makes me nervous how she can just go back into a severe depression or something. I know she’s already had one “breakdown” where she started bawling crying and had to get away for a few hours… I’ve only seen my mom cry once so this alone concerned me, but then again maybe it shouldn’t, since she has emotions again…? I understand it may take months for her body to adjust and heal from not being on Lithium, so I’m sure there’s some kind of process that takes place… If you’re aware of that process please share.

    I am now going to research holistic alternatives (herbs, acupuncture, etc.) for bi-polar disorder. She was diagnosed bi-polar when she was going through A LOT of turmoil in her life at the time and the doctors had her on so many different drugs she almost died so whether or not I believe she still is bi-polar or ever was is up for discussion. Her life is 180 degree difference than it was before and has been for decades. Anyway, please let me know if you have had any success with anything in the holistic realm and if you’re aware of a ‘process’ the body/mind goes through when getting taken off of Lithium.

    Thanks so much!

  110. R Wilson said

    Lithium doesn’t always “wrap your brain in cotton”, but it can. I’ve deliberately titrated off it and then back on several times because it did, or it stabilized my mood low so I was melancholy all the time. But the biggest side effect for me this time is no sex life possible — almost nothing at all arouses me. It hasn’t done that before, and it’s really weird.

    As for going off it, it can be important to titrate off, not just drop it. A couple of times I’ve just dropped it, and both times it sent me into a hypomania that just kept going, verging on mania sometimes.

  111. Lyndsey said

    After years of combination therapy for BP1 with many different anti-psychotics, mood-stabilisers, sleeping pills, anti-depressants and benzodiazepines, I came off my last anti-psychotic in 2009 and came off Lithium in 2011. All successfully! I have a very good job, am much better than when on the highest amount of drugs, and manage on 100mg Lamotrigine a day and prn 0.5 Risperdal, as well as L-Tryptophan prescription-grade for sleep. I make sure I exercise a lot, do mindfulness meditation, psychotherapy, self-monitoring via web tools, journalling. I just did it ultra-slowly and learned to really listen to and learn from myself and my past (and my friends …). NEVER go cold turkey and work to build up a good support network when you are ill for when/if you get ill.

  112. Tina Sands said

    I have been on Lithium for 23 years – after my breakdown 8 yrs ago, my docs tried everything under the sun in an effort to get me off it to no avail. One doc put me on a diuretic a year later to bring down my bp and I went toxic level 2.68 and a week on an IV drip in the hospital. 2 yrs ago I had my thyroid out for papillary cancer that spread to 2 lymph nodes. Since then my creatinine has been high and my kidney filter has dropped. No one seems to want to do anything about it other than talk, Any suggestions before my kidneys go?

  113. Linda said

    I started to take Lithium again. That is something I don’t want to do at all. Makes me drink lots of water and has many side effects but looks like I have to. I don’t want to try any other medicine because it works fine with me. I hope this time I won’t quit taking again. I have done that many times.

  114. Kathy (for Richard) said

    My son is on 900 mgs of lithium with NO side effects. He had to be on Serequel XR with 300 mgs of lithium to balance out and explosive onset of a shizophreniform disorder and unforunately we are battling a 50 pound weight gain from the Serequel but the Lithium, though they TRIPLED tghe dosage, taken away the Serequel, he has no side effects. No dry mouth/ tiredness, nothing.

  115. Michelle said

    I have been taking meds for my bipolar disorder for 12 years. I have always been on lithium plus a combonation of lamictal, celexa, Ativan and trazadone. All my meds have stayed the same except they added serequil for a short period but that made me a zombie. They added the lamictal about 2 years ago and for about a year now I have been having joint pain. I have been to every kind of doctor and nothing seems wrong in blood work or X-ray. Do you think it could be some of the drugs I’m on? I’m scared to get off anything because I know what happens but I’m so tierd of hurting? Any suggestions?

    • Kathy (for Richard) said

      The amount of meds/ combinations that I see all of you take, just scares me. The combination of the antipsychotic Serequel XR combined with the Lithium is what IU beieve pulled my son out of his Schizophreniform Disorder but he was on such low doses of each because he had sweaty palms/feet/ muscle pain and his Dr didn’t seem to, in retrospect know to check if there was a therapuetic dose in his system. But it worked. Now I’m struggling because the new Dr expects him to take 900 mgs of Lithium to show a .8 on his bloodwork which means it’s in his system at a working level. MY ARGUEMENT was that at a lower doese he had no aqbnormal behavior, so why increase?The Dr. said I made a good point but to TRUST him. So, for now I am. My son has had no adverse effects from the increase except for holding onto the weight he gained during the Serequel treatment..

      • R Wilson said

        Your doctor is wrong: whatever level works IS that person’s therapeutic level. The amount in the books is the average — and there are not individuals who match the average.

        Unfortunately, going on the higher level may mean getting locked in to that level so the former lower level is made no longer therapeutic.

        • Kathy (for Richard) said

          I hope not, this is a new and unexpected turn in life, and we can only hope that things go as they should, but with all I read here, it is disconserting.

    • scott said

      Michelle, I was diagnosed bi-polar back in 91′ when i was 21 yrs old, in 2003 i began to suffer from joint pain and fatigue. in 2007 a Army Colonel M.D. gave me a pressure point exam and diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. the evidence is stacking up that bi-polar is a disease of the central nervous system and that fibromyalgia is a further symptom of the degeneration of the cns. Lamictal is powerful stuff, and will not be effective forever,look out for a burning feeling around the edges of the lips, if this occurs you will need to discontinue its use. I have much better results with cymbalta. sorry about the spelling. Scott

  116. Tracey said

    I was on the exact same medications. I don’t know your milligrams but I was having a lot of pain in my legs. The lithium was increasing the pain in my legs the pharmacist told me its a sodium and can work different with certain foods I drive truck so I eat a lot of fried food and he said that could be effecting me. I have been on lithium for at least 7 yrs 2 months ago I couldn’t take the pain I quit the lithium..I Had already quit the lamictal because I lost my insurance. So I figured it was the lithium
    . It was rough alot of with draws but the pain is gone. I do have severe arthritis but the pain i had was different. I am now going to try the lamictal up to 300mgs instead. the doc told me 10$ at bi-lo grocery store she was right. rite aid is 160$ and up. Lamictal does increase joint pain/arthritis and I read 95% more in women so I’m going to keep a close eye on it. Trazadone says it has a side affect of joint pain but I never had a problem with it. I was on 1200mg lithium, on 200mg trazadone, lorazipan ,5mg 3x aday as needed hope this helps.

  117. Sheryl said

    I’ve been taking lithium 300 carbonate off and on for 3 yrs. What I mean by off and on Is unfortunately sometimes I wouldn’t take it for a month or 2 months, now I’ve stopped taking it because I’m now using cymbalta. Because of financial problems, I cannot afford right now to get the other mess I take. Which used to be celexa but I stopped taking that, now all I take is trazadone and cymbalta. Sorry to be so confusing, but I need to know if I by me stopping the lithium and the celexa, and just taking cymbalta and trazadone, what is this doing to my body?

  118. dennis van der bilt said

    Does lithium help with anxiety? I take 1200 mg of lithium and I do not know if anxiety significantly reduced.. However, less info comes into your brain to worry about.. Sometimes that can be an advantage.

  119. grace said

    You will become much like a zombie. Like others have stated, you will be minus a few beans but much better to get along with and you will maybe enjoy many more thiings than you once did without Lithium. Good Luck.

  120. Bonnie said

    I’ve been on 300 mg of lithium for about 3 mos now & call me stupid but I don’t feel it doing a damned thing to me. I’ve been on several different meds for bipolar disorder for the past 7 yrs & I don’t feel that this is helping me at all. My lithium blood level is fine as well, is it just me & all the different meds I’ve been on?

  121. VH said

    Hi once again, fellow sufferers.

    Can I pick some people’s brains, please?

    Has anyone found anything successful to combat the joint pain from long-term lithium use?

    I’m on 1,000mg Priadel, 60mg Cymbalta, 25mg Buspar daily plus 2x500mg Co-Dydramol, four times a day for the pain.

    My hip and lower back are now so bad that I have to use a walking stick. Stairs require the indignation of bottom-shuffling up/down them. I’m in constant pain and now I’ve lost the use of two fingers as they keep sticking and locking and can’t be used for anything. This is particularly bad for me as I’m training as a silversmith.

    Can anyone suggest anything stronger than co-dydramol that won’t send me into lithium-toxicity (anti-inflammatories) or seratonin-toxicity (tramadol etc)?

    I’m in constant pain, my life sucks and I can’t even play with my children anymore. We live in beautiful countryside, fields and forests galore for the kids and dogs to explore, and my kids can’t enjoy them.

    I’m willing to try any standard or non-standard meds. My GP said I was imagining it. My psychiatrist put me on Tramadol then said “oops” when I went into serotonin toxic shot. Now I’m just on the co-dydramol and it doesn’t do a great deal.

    Any suggestions, legal, I’ll try.



  122. Kathy (for Richard) said

    I have gotten some responses to my question of using 300mgs or 900 mgs of Lithium as maintainence and the Psychiatrist my son has through school had bumped it up from the 3 to the 9 by saying it needs to show in the blood stream at a ‘theraputic level’. I do not know where to respond to those that acknowleged my comments, but thank you.

  123. Troy P said

    I am thankful I found lot’s of shared experiences here. I looked up lithium making me feel bad and this came up. I am on Lamictil, Atarax, sertraline and I had a bad depression episode after moving to a new state and my new psych put me on lithium. After going to the 1200 dose I had such bad photo-phobia that I could not keep my eyes open. I was taken back down to 600 by my primary till I could see the psych again. Fast forward 4 weeks and I have taken myself off lithium altogether. It was making me agitated and down. I feel better without it. I see my psych in two days to see what she thinks about it but I was trying to make sure I wasn’t imagining things by my thought that lithium was doing me more harm than good.

  124. Isfahan Henderson said

    I have been diagnosed as Bi polar after 29 years of depression and mania, but I hid it well!!!! moved often etc… I am about to start on lithium will post here….
    Was on seroquel which made me eat and sleep loads… venolfaxine which made me function but aggressive… I am 47 and have started the menopause… lovely!

  125. Adrian said

    Ive been on lithium for 6 months & think it’s a chemical labotomy , takes away my ability to feel anything, everything’s just magnolia .
    I’d rather they just shot us it would be far
    Least cruel than this shit.

  126. Jim said

    All these personal views and comments are somewhat interesting, but they are no substitute for sound, fact-based pharmacology and real-world experience of a good psychiatrist dedicated to your improved mental health. I’ve been taking lithium carbonate for 18 years with no negative affects, and many positive ones. Sure, it has a mellowing affect on me, but its so much better than than the mania and my risky, poor-judgement, wild and crazy behaviors that put me in jails/prisons, hospitals and ER’s, institutions, treatment centers, life-threatening situations, accidents and near death experiences. Of course I’m not “cured” and I still get way to excited and upset sometimes, and depressed; but to a much lesser degree with lithium therapy. It also helps a lot with my mood-stability. Your doctor is not a mind-reader, you gotta talk to him/her about how your really feeling and take responsibility for your own mental health, with no whining/excuses! Jim Y

  127. grace said

    Well said Jim Y.

  128. Chelsea Lee said

    I got Diagnosed with Bipolar disorder at the age of 10 (early or what?) in the first few months I gained forty pounds, barely ate, and couldnt sleep, causing the Doctors to give me a sleeping medication, which also caused weight gain, i felt zoned out all the time, and got picked on by all the kids for being so much over weight, My step mother the over bearing Psychologist said I had to take it. I gained a total of 110 pounds in a year and a half, got horrible headaches, nose bleeds that never seemed to stop, and felt like royal crap at all times. At the age of 17 i quit taking the medication and moved out. None of my friends or family can even tell the difference, I also lost forty pounds within a few months it seemed to fall off, and now a total of 90. I am now 20 and Have my own apartment, im going to medical school and barely even have mood swings any more, so the point of my story in my perspective is Lithium was nothing more then a fat pill that made me feel horrible, and doesnt help everyone, I shared my story to prove Lithium isnt as great as they say it is, oh and I ent to different doctors in a different state to see the internal damage of the Lithium, the doctors that kept upping my dosage (ended up taking 800 Mg a day) for 3 years caused me to have severe migrains, insomnia oh and I a mnow infertile. My advice get off of it while You stil can.

    • Pythia said

      It would do people more good to question a diagnosis and pharmacological treatment of bipolar disorder at the age of ten than the efficacy of lithium. Everyone reacts differently, no one knows what lithium does to a young child, mentally or physically, and your side-effects sound rather unusual. Whether or not a person takes lithium is a decision best made between that person and his or her doctor.

    • Karen said

      Were you taking prescription Lithium or over the counter Lithium Orotate?

  129. Ree said

    A few doctors online mention that if you take lithium you have to take iodine supplements, preferably lugol’s iodine, because lithium slows down your thyroids as it competes with iodine, so you have to take more iodine to speed up the thyroids. Has anyone here heard of this?

  130. Tess said

    Hi everyone – my husband has been taking lithium for about 6 months now they just adjusted his meds again and he is on 900 mg a day :( at first it seemed like he was feeling so much better and he was happier. Then it went back to the mania and depression that’s when they upped the dose to the 900. Now he cannot keep his eyes open he is tired and falling asleep all the time. He is grumpy and gets irritated or mad over every little thing again and gets stuck on things like a sweatshirt I haven’t washed yet, and can’t let it go…. And just makes mean little comments. Doesn’t have much motivation to do anything. Gains weight never looses any ~ 900 mg is alot (I think) ….. Has anyone felt this way? Is it possible that two meds together would help?

    • Kathy (for Richard) said

      Taking it before bed/ my son has no problems/ other than losing weight.

    • Al said


      You just described me to a T. Good at first then not good. Do you also hear a lot of doors slamming.

      But in addition to what you described I have other issues going on.

  131. Irena said

    I been on Lithium for about 1 year ,I m always worry it will go down in blood level and i ll go manic (psyhotic) again .Since diagnose of Bp i m scared of life

  132. Rhianna said

    I just got put on lithium on the 1st of that what’s making it uncomfortable for me to pee? It Burns at first, then hurts unless I start drinking a bunch of water or other fluids.

    • Roy said

      For good health, humans should drink lots of clear fluids anyway. A good rule of thumb is to take your weight in pounds, divide by two, and drink that many ounces each day. If you’re not even close to that, lithium can not only make it hurt to pee, but lead to itching and burning eyes, itchy skin, unhealthy gums, and more.

  133. Carlotta said

    Hi, lithium helps me not get manic. I do not get depressed or suicidal. However, I am now morbidly obese. In 7 years, I have gained 150 lbs. I am having many of the problems that go with obesity.
    I have high blood pressure and high colesteral. My legs swell. I do look terrible. I have 4 children at home, so becoming manic is not an option. My mental health is fine, but my physical health is
    being ruined because of the lithium.

  134. Maegan Sowder said

    I have been on Lithium for a few months now. I really do feel better except that I still can’t sleep. I also have some hand tremors. Every now and than I get pins and needles in my hands and feet (sometimes my legs). My doctor said this is normal. Does anyone else have similar side effects? I was on Ambien for about 30 days when I first started the Lithium. Now my sleep is worse than ever. I just want to sleep well at least once a week. Does anyone have any ideas on how to stop the insomnia that comes with the Lithium?

    • Kathy (for Richard) said

      My son was on Abilify/ then Serequel. On Abilify he was very restless, lost weight, didn’t eat, then Serequel which made him put on 40 pounds which we can’t get off, now he’s on Lithium, sleeps well/ no side effects (except for inability to drop the pounds. He is doing Karate and has a trainer twice a week).

  135. Kathleen said

    Hi, I’ve been on Lithium for over 20 years I’m 47 now. I was around 8 stone when I started and am still 8stone. I fell pregnant at 36 on a dose of 800mg a day, which I stopped during pregnancy and remained well, hormones during pregnancy have that effect. I logged into this as menopausal changes are making me unwell with severe depressive episodes the past 3 years with agitation making me very angry. I’m concerned about effect on my 10year old son as it’s just me and him. My family either don’t care or understand and provide no support and I’ve taken the step to inform the school of my illness as absense and lateness are too frequent to ignore. I’ve never really felt side effects, maybe due to relief at feeling well after years of drugs were you just felt worse. I did experience toxicity once when my brand was changed, very unpleasant. My child was around a year and I could not leave loo or straighten up due to pains. I had to call in family and ‘ What is its wrong with you?’ at the time I didn’t know, I just felt awful.

  136. Deanna said

    It’s so helpful to read how others can experience serious mind fogginess.

  137. Katie said

    I just wanted to give my feedback. I have been on lithium for about a month and am taking 450mg. I drink a lot of water naturally so it hasn’t bothered me to drink more now. I do not have tremors, weight gain or acne as the side effects are supposed to be. I get a headache if I don’t drink enough water or I don’t eat. I drank a few beers when I began taking it (3) and I had an epic headache and had to chug water. Now, I can drink a few bud lights just as long as I drink plenty of water and drink in moderation. Not a big deal for me but I thought it was worth mentioning since it might help others. Honestly, I still feel angry, easily set off and have awful ruminating obsessive thoughts. BUT it is helping a tiny bit with chilling me out. I think I’ll have to take more. I hate pills. I’m waiting on my blood test. In the beginning it made me dizzy and headachy. That went away. Just my two cents.

  138. Kate said

    No one is going to react to medicine exactly the same way. If we did, there would be a “one size fits all” bipolar pill. It takes doctors a long time to find our perfect medicine combination and even then it needs to be tweaked. Bipolar is frustrating and our meds are not fun but it’s important to remember that what doesn’t work for one person may work perfectly for another.

  139. Lara said

    I hated lithium. I’m worried it permanently changed me. Can it do that? Has anyone felt less confident or happy since taking lithium? I used to be confident around men now I feel anxious. Is this common in lithium treated people? Thanks.

  140. Lara said

    Has anyone tried topamax? I have heard good things about it for bipolar and weight loss.

  141. Ambrose Daly said

    Andy . Bi-polar 1. 59 years. On Lithium 40 years without any bother except 2005 when 2 work mates put dope in my lunch. Recovered in 1 week. Any one had slow heart beat problems?

  142. CB said

    Lithium causes toxicity as a metal, which is foreign to the brain, I tried university study passed some subjects but because i went back on lithium I had to drop out, I became so stupid and boring, I hated the doctors and the psych nurses for forcing me to take it, I wanted my old self back but could not find wellness ever again I have tried a variety of cold turkey methods even eat fish oil, nothing seems to work so I have to get alternatives to mood stablisers.

  143. SAL said,

    Hi guys,
    I am 35 years old and my doctor switched me from lithium carbonate er 450mg to lithium carbonate 350mg immediate release about 2 weeks ago do to the fact that I was having alot of diarrhea and nausea. As i mentioned, i have been on the lithium carbonate 350mg immediate release for 2 weeks and It has definitely lifted me from out of the dumps. I have bi-polar but suffer more from the depression part of it. Anyway, one thing that bothers me about the lithium is that it makes me feel very alert with some anxiousness. I also take 200mg of seroquel at bed time and 3 mg of Xanax a day, i do notice that when i take the xanax, it calms me down but i still get that uncomfortable feeling, but will that feeling of alertness or anxiousness ever go away or should I ask my doctor to reduce it? Also every morning I wake up, I wake up feeling alert instead of slowly coming out of a great nights sleep. When I wake up I feel like like I feel like I am in a rush to get up and mov on with my day? Can someone help me on both my problems? Is it just me or is it normal?

  144. FatBat said

    I was on 750mg Eskalith. It helped my anger, racing thoughts, hostility towards others, my stress and suicidal ideation. BUT one of my friends was on 900 mg lithium carbonate for 30 years and now she’s on hemodialysis for CKD cause by lithium and a whole plethora of other bipolar meds. I freaked and stopped my meds after only being on them a month. Now I’m manic, angry, sad and scared. I hate my life and the world sucks. I’m scared of lithium, but really… It’s the only thing that helps. Effexor, Prozac, Zoloft, alcohol, weed, acid, meth, melatonin, thyroid supplements, excessive sugar and caffeine…. These just don’t help. They make matters worse. I go to Mass on Sunday and wonder how I can even take Holy Communion when I’m so evil. God bless the mentally ill… God help us all. I’m scared of lithium.

  145. Christy said

    I found ur blog useful. I Googled and stumbled across it. I’m two days into lithium and also on lamitical (abt 10 mos…200 mg 2xday). Klonipin for sleep and xanax for anxiety. I feel like a medicine cabinet. Even my children notice the pills and say things like “take a pill and you will feel btr.” I feel reduced :( I pray lithium helps.

  146. Richard Brown said

    I think it’s important that people don’t downplay the neurochemistrty and it’s correlation to psychological moods & temples of brain functioning. I am a very active athlete and lithium scares me to the point I feel desperate to find another solution. It’s really sad our government and popular media takes so much interest in trivial superficial aspects of science & medicine when we should be curing mental illness. A lot of people are born on a trajectory toward lifelong illness before they are prescribed drugs. I feel like my temporary crisis became a lifelong diagnosis because social workers drill that into your mind. Now after years of heavy medicine use I’m afraid that my life will never be free from their clutches worse than any addiction. It’s a real condition caused by improper over treatment of the original problem. We can’t cure a human being psychologically with a pill unless the problem is a biological functioning problem. These drugs act on our biochemistry but they don’t correct it or cure it they just disrupt it further. I’ve had a diagnosis for 7 years. I am not looking forward to the next 10-20 years of the same non-sense moving in reverse. What a shame shame shame!

  147. Nik said

    So you just stopped

  148. therealedenland said

    Hey – thank you for your blog. I’m recently diagnosed with Bipolar 2 and am switching medications, first day on Lithium today. Your words helped.


  149. gail said

    I just found this site. I’m wondering if, when you say ‘lithium’ are you referring to lithium orotate form? That is not a drug, and you take it in LOW doses. It replaces the missing lithium in our diets and crosses the blood/brain barrier easily, therefore only needing a small amount. It also has no side effects, much less kidney damage. It’s a safe dietary mineral our body’s need & because of the poor condition of the soil in this country now, is missing. I was hoping to see if anyone here used the lithium orotate in conjunction with, or in time, was able to replace Xanax, with or without the assistance of a practioner. Thank you.

  150. Al said

    I have been on lithium 900mg/day, lamictal 375mg/day, Clonazepam 5mg/day for about 5 years when I was diagnosed. I believe I have had BP since I was 9 years old when my father died.

    My side effects:
    A side effect that I developed from the lithium are tremors which are in my hands. For example I can’t drink a glass of water with one hand. The tremors are so bad the water flies out of the glass. I have to use two hands like my small grandkids. But I do use one hand on occasion to give the kids a laugh.

    Also because of the tremors I have a hard time writing.

    I have gained 75 pounds for no reason at all. I don’t eat much and occasionally go to the gym.

    Another side effect is that most of the time I too feel no pleasure at all.

    I find it very stressful when having family functions, especially vacations. I’m stressed to a point where I’m going to have an anxiety attack.

    So I am the one in a million with BP 2 that these drugs do not work. I have tried others with limited success
    Short Story:
    Now get this one, I had deviated septum surgery about 6 months ago. I stayed over night because I have sleep apena, which why I had the surgery. That night I was having a hard time breathing through my mouth as I couldn’t breath through my nose. There was something in my throat obstructing my breathing, it was from the surgery. I won’t describe it. I was coughing so bad that I set off the monitor. Three nurses came in to check on me and I told them of my breathing problem. They told me there was nothing they could do. THEN I told them that I was getting anxious about the problem. They told me “well you already took your meds”. So because I am on these drugs they looked at me like some lunatic. Is there some kind of stigma attached to people who use these drugs? Well sorry for the long story but this was an experience I had. In the future when I go to a doctor and I’m asked what medication I’m on the answer will be none.

    So to close:
    The meds aren’t really working for me so I plan to slowing get off them.

    As of three weeks ago I have been going to TMS therapy, then maybe try MMJ. I’m 59 and at this point in my life I am willing to try some alternative treatments.

  151. What may be the best drug to treat depression I am taking lamitical but it isn’t working for me

  152. Rebecca said


    You are the one who does the work. I know how frustrating the medications are. I gained almost 100 pounds at 16 when I was put on depakote. That was after being incorrectly diagnosed with depression and put on antidepressants which caused an awful mixed episode. I hallucinated that everything was the color orange, and when I went back to the dr. he explained what was happening. It is easy to be angry.

    Lithium saved my life. The side effects suck, but for me it’s the best medicine there is. The meds are’t great yet, but I believe not long from now they will be.

    Personally i’m fine handling it myself- till i’m not. Till I stay up super late one night or drink a coffee+ or have a bunch of loved ones die. Once an episode starts it gets out of control quickly. With no medicine there is no net.

    Please keep taking them. They allow you to live your life. If you walk the plank you might drown. You’re too strong for that. 20+ years.

  153. michael Burns said

    thank u

    I re evaluated things
    and stopped myself from sabotaging the work I have accomplished
    I now take my Lithium and Epival without any reservation because they work
    I could see myself losing it again
    and the hospital would probably follow
    Perhaps even worse,
    some kind of crime, or Multi relationship ring like i have done before
    it’s a viscous cycle
    I have enough wisdom to know better
    and I just need the ability to always remember life is not that bad
    yes it could be better
    but if I Walk away from those Meds it will get so bad
    sometimes it’s the cards we are dealt with
    I am missing a few Jacks, but that’s all right
    come to think of it who is not?

  154. Tracey said

    Good way to look at it.

  155. Paul said

    Hi Guys,
    Im 37 yrs old, was diagnosed with Bp in 2006 after a manic ep, (although I’d say the Bp symptoms was there since around 2000 or more. Heavy weekend bingeing since I was 17 And from age 20-25 have taken plenty of e’s, cocane, LSD and grass ect, from then on it was alcohol until late 2011 when I decided to stop..nearly a year on and I think alcohol had a huge part in my Bp,
    My brain is defo healing..
    There’s defo a few minor symptoms of Bp in some of our family but not serious..
    I’ve done Vipassana meditation many times pre the epsiod i had in 2006 and the meditation has defo helped me a lot to keep a tight eye on the mood.
    But I’ve used, injuiced and abused my manic states many times to get stuff done and it worked very well, jobs all completed perfectly and me burn out!!! (Kind of Bad idea) When I went manic 1st time i met the devil, ghosts voices and the whole lot showed up (which I never believed in) so I though must be a loose screw somewhere in here & better to go to the doctor and get it tightened up.!:)
    Anyways she got me a meeting with the head dr at the mental health clinic. the dr advised me to go on lithium ( I wouldn’t let them put needles near me so it ended up Lamictal 150mg per day was d script, and I’m on it 6years.
    It’s a good find but highs still come and meditation doesn’t always work so my doc wants me to try lithium starting nx week with a plan to go off the Lamictal as the lithium starts to work.. Anyone know what the lowest possible effective dose is? As don’t wanna go overboard
    I’ve also read the Mbct books, v good and can defo say they help, few months agoI’ve also started cod liver oil, vit b complex and the gym again! Gym defo helps..don’t know if the vitamins do but no harm tryin.
    I’ve also tried ayahauska which I would say be very careful.. I was ok because im a total skeptic about spirits ect, One thing I’ve learned is there is no mental person inside of me,I try and avoid stress as much as possible and if your having great fun enjoy it, but u don’t have to go manic, just have a laugh in a calm way, make sure and get ur sleep and if u can’t eat more, that’s what I do and it slows me down. I’m normal weight probably because i eat plenty of chillies an I think that keeps my system digesting fast.. If I’m depressed I take full advantage of it,
    i check the reviews and watch loads of good movies lie up and just go with it..I always had a tendency to think what should I do now or what should I be doing? tis past year I have practiced on thinking it doesnt matter.. rich, Having the newest car, phone, Saving loads of money ect ect
    Save your health 1st be rich inside..
    If u are not doing bad on anyone and no harm to yourself then why does a great job ect have to be important. A great job is using your talents and I’m sure u are all full off them..(apart from the people who are on the low side:) and if ur low hang in there enjoy them lazy days, videos ect and your body will heal) giv it time an plenty of it.
    When I’m low I sleep it off 12-14 hours a day or way more for weeks in bed if it takes it and I always tell myself this isn’t so bad, i have food, warm, breathing and time to heal..
    Trust your brain guys, a amazing machine, when ur sleeping let it do its job (healing)
    And remember nobody’s perfect…….
    Best Wishes

  156. erin hanes said

    I’ve only been on lithium for 6 months & while its taken care of my episodes and anxiety, I swear my brain has turned into a potato. It’s like I can’t comprehend anything, forget everyday words, even staired at my daughters hair in my hands for a good five minutes trying to remember how to braid. Right before I started my meds I got accepted into a nursing program to get my RN license and I’m scared to start in two weeks bc I’m not the same brainiac that took tgat test. ANYONE else have this problem?

  157. Kathy (for Richard) said

    My son had been on Abilify, then Serequl XR but 900 mgs of Lithium has done the trick.

  158. Chelsea Lee said

    Erin, My advice is Slowly ween yourself off of it, I took it for 7 years, and the side effects only got worse, weight gain, nose bleeds, nausia, and I forgot things I had known how to do for years, It ruined my chance of ever having a baby, and i still expierence the side effects and ive been off of the Lithium for three years

  159. Des said

    You are scaring me. Sometimes I don’t know what is the results of the illness or what is the results f the medication

  160. Ruthie said

    Lithium caused weight gain, horrific acne (which I had never had in my life), and my hair started falling out. I reached toxicity twice even after monthly level checks and dosage adjustments. All my blood levels were off including WBCs, glucose, triglycerides, and cholesterol. My speech was slowed, my mind dull, and my memory gone. I have been off of it for 2 weeks (after giving my pdoc HELL!) and now on Latuda and the difference is already amazing. I was on Lithium for 10 months and probably had to take it 8 eight different ways during that time. Everyone calls it the “go to” or “gold standard” for bi-polar. I am 38 and have been receivng treatment since I was 22. I have NEVER experienced such horrific side effects from a medication and believe me after these many years I have taken plenty! I think my hair will come back, my skin clear, and the pounds have already started to shed. My real regret and anger about the entire ordeal was not pitching a fit sooner with my pdoc. Remember YOU are the boss of your health – not them. They don’t know everything. GOOD LUCK!

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