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.

389 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.

    • Karen said

      Are you taking prescription or over the counter lithium?

    • Jean Chilton said

      would love comments, my son who us 26 self-diagnosed his bi-polar, and he is on 400-450 milligrams of Lamictal. My mother was diagnosed with bi-polar at 62, I was suspicious that I had the dis-order for years, but it is a difficult disorder to own. My son, who is highly intelligent dropped out of 2 different highly regarded colleges before being diagnosed, had sleep problems and depressant problems. This drug has turned his life around in so many positive ways.

      At 63, my psychiatrist, who I only see once per year, recommended lamictal as a mood stabilizer. I only take 25 mg per day. any more than than causes headaches and stomach issues.

      I now do not take any sleep medications, or anti-pressants, I have never thought more clearly. I am a Cpa, intelligent person but was also extremely anxious.

      any thoughts??

      • Michael said

        Hello, thank you for sharing! My name is Michael, I was diagnosed with ADHD and Depression back in 2010, however no Antidepressant worked me me long term. I mean, the antidepressants would work for 2-3 months and then it suddenly didn’t. I can honestly say without deceit, that I tried every single Antidepressant under the sun over the next 3 years. It was leaving that job and working as an integrated unit with 5-6 people any given shift when a friend of mine said that i reminded her of her husband and he was Bipolar. After some lengthy discussions with the Psych. He said that “it would explain why all the medications only worked short term. So here we go again, went through every designer Bipolar med in the market. In the meantime, I’m a NucMed Student, the fogginess set in, i was living my life in a haze, my mother died of advanced stage Lung Ca with multiple sites of Mets (watching her die and take care of her with my sister did NOT help! My fiance has no sense of emotional attachment nor a compassionate heart, everything is black and white, cause and effect: so here i am in my first semester of clinicals, I had no mental clarity, my sorrow and Depression was through the roof, I just lost the loving, compassionate, most amazing woman in the world, who knew me inside and the only one in the world that knew how to calm the raging storm within me.) So here i am, making an emergency appointment with my Psych. Where he ups my lithium from 900mg/day (1@bkfst; 1@Bdtme) to 1300mg/Day (1@bkfst; 2@bdtme, oh and added a step up kit for 100mg/day of Lamictal).

        Which in retrospect was the worst thing i could, after a few months i quit the the Lamictal and extra 450mg Lithium. It helped some, however the mental fog remains, i put in anywhere from 40-55 hours a week in clinicals (10,000/13,000 steps a day/5-6 miles a day, with lifting, doing IV’s, patient intake questionnaires, imaging, processing, helping others: perform daily urination and bowel removal and cleanup. Also you must be kind, caring, gentle, and have the ability to read and anticipate your patients needs, all under the umbrella of patient care. Needless to say, I’m exhausted when I’m done lol. So……I ranted long enough, it’s someone elses time to rant 😉

        • Mike the Marine said

          I love ranting!! Stress reliever!! I lost my Mother also. Us who have felt that only know how hard it truly is. Mentally and physically exhausting. Just completely drained of all emotions. Since it happened to me I haven’t been able to cry since. It’s just so hard. But I also have ADHD along with PTSD, Bipolar, depression, with mad mad manic episodes. So here it goes. Everything has been a complete struggle with me. But one day I quit taking my Effexor, Lithium, and Seroquil. I was so sick of being a freaking zombie so I took a chance. On those meds came brain mush, extreme tiredness, totally foggy mind and oh yeah I put on a good 50 lbs. I did feel like shit for about a week. Now six months later the only meds I stayed on is the Seroquil to help with the nightmares. No more numbness. I haven’t cut myself or anything else crazy since off Lithium and Effexor. My opinion both of those together are bad news. I’m down to my normal weight at 197lbs and I feel good. Don’t get me wrong not everyday is perfect. I still have my mood swings once in awhile but nowhere near the ones I had on those combined meds. There’s hope in every day!!! Maybe this might help you, maybe not. Trust me I got mad issues but there more controlled and better now. But I do feel ur pain! One day at a time someone once told me. We’re ADHD, I say I live a step one step at a time. Stay strong my brother and much love!!!!

  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 .

      • Tina Sands said

        I too have tried everything under the sun and lithium is the only drug whose side effects I can handle. Problem is it’s been 24 years and my creatinine is now 1.5 and I’m in 3rd stage CKD. Have to come off and not aware of any replacement. Help!

        • Ken said

          Limictal 200mg twice daily has helped my mood Not completely I suffer from anxiety particularly at work. I am on disability leave Saw psychiatrist for med adjust he added lithium to the mix. Just on day three kind of concerned side effects feel similar to SSRI which makes me chilled hair stands on end and causes nervousness. I’m thinking of requesting lamictal to three times a day. and not to take lithium. Once a day lamictal due to the long half life is supposed to be ok I find that taking divided dose has worked for me I take 200 early am before work that towards noon. I tend to ramp up anxious hyper verbal when in office so i think adding a dose towards three could help. One thing I know and I am a nurse is is
          that it is all individual

          • Tina said

            Severely allergic to Lamictal and still have been unable to find a substitute or combination to replace the lithium and my creatinine is up to 1.6 and going up. My nephrologist doesn’t want to see me til it’s up to 3.0. No how no way and looking for a new nephrologist with little success. Alternating the lithium 300/600 every other day and keeping a close eye on things. But moods are all over the place.

    • 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.


        • BB said

          How do you do with mood stabilization on this orotate Li?

        • Kat said

          Are you in the USA? How do you get this type of lithium, where and what is it called?
          Does anyone know if lithium salicytate is available on the market?

      • clare said

        I feel the same.

      • Mike the Marine said

        I’m with you. I quit my Lithium and Effexor cold turkey. So sick of Docs pumping pills in me and trying different cocktail combinations. My brain was complete mush from the Seroquil as well. I did feel shitty though for about a week. But no more numbness, brain zaps, and about 50 lbs. lighter. Lithium and Seroquil, especially together, are huge weight gainers!! I got up to 250 lbs. No off meds I’m now back to my normal weight at 197lbs. Only took 6 months also maintaining a pretty good diet. Hope this will give someone some help and some hope. Might not work for everyone but anything is possible. Much love to all of you and good luck!!!!!!

    • Hi my name’s Jeff I was put on lithium over a shock treatment decision which would have ruined me.They put me on lithium and age of 13 I gained weight of a shovel months. 80 pounds I lost it have stretch marks to prove it 24 years later I’m still in this medicine and back then they told me I always take this medicine till the day I die.But you had fun. 3 times a year to make sure all the levels thyroid kidney When something out are in check to apply through okay medicines working proper diet this is my life

      • tooosweeet said

        Hi Jeff, glad to hear you’ve lost the weight. I was wondering if you’re on an adjunct antidepressant, I didn’t want to take the lithium but it seems to be okay except for the weight gain, but you’ve given me hope 🙂 but the depression is still around and my Dr. Likes to Guinea pig me with new expensive drugs. I keep refusing because of side effects. I was just wondering if there’s an older“been around” antidepressant that works….thanks

  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..

      • FRANSEL said

        What dosage of lithium worked for your daughter? My son 120lbs 20yra old is on 450mg a day lithium carbonate. He is also on low dose Prozac 10mg. Lithium seemed to work but after a week doc doubled dose and he became violent. He is back on lower dose but now exhibiting psychotic behaviors like he is focussing on objects on the floor while rocking anxiously. He also has autism and Lyme disease. We are looking for mood stabilizer so we can address Lyme.
        Thank you for any response

  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.

          • Kathryn said

            Brilliantly put! I also had those reservations when diagnosed with depression. Nothing seemed to work and I was given everything to try. Finally after what seemed a lifetime of extreme illness the docs hit on the right combination for me (I’d given up on ever getting better): lithium and amytriptiline combined. I literally felt over the moon to get my life back after 6 years! That was in 2009, and things have stayed good ever since. Do have checkups every six month re lithium side effects, but all seems on track. Maybe one day I’ll be able to come off meds altogether, so here’s hoping and all the best to you all, Kathryn Aitkenhead.

        • krissy said

          Oh yes the whole mental health system isba farse….lol go,drink the kool aid

    • 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.

    • Marty Felker said

      I was on lithium for 30 years (started BEFORE it was cleared bby the FDA. It permanently damaged my kidneys. When I spoke to a nepholostigst about very increased serum creatinine level and told him I had taken lithium he immediately said it was the cause. Lost my upper teeth – again lithium. Have to take synthroid – lithium. Brain fog – lithium. Fine hand tremors – lithium. Weight gain -lithium . Unlike other in this thread I am taking Lamitcal and it works great. Some people (and shrinks) say lithium saves lives – manyi experience it as taking away their life.

    • Marcus said

      My wife has been on lithium since 1980…35 years! She has stopped taking it for a few weeks at a time and things go down hill very fast. Blood levels must be checked and doses need to be adjusted at times. This natural salt is in my opinion the best med for bi-polar disorder.

    • Dianna Urban said

      I have been on lithium carbonate 300 mg 2 x day for 30 years. I also take 1 mg of an antipsychotic called Navane 1 mg at bedtime. This combination has worked for me most of my life after having shock treatments when they put me on thorazine at the hospital after the treatments. Then I went on the lithium and Navane. ltI have tried lamictal without a good result in conjunction with the lithium because I feel it makes my brain “fizz”. So now that I am in my sixties, I have had some report of negative kidney affects so I am now on 150 mg of lithium 1 x day and of course the Navane keeps me from the racing thoughts and i continue this with no side effects. My kidneys actually improved in a blood test and I feel better physically, my calcium levels have been in check and I can function normally, actually better physically. I have adjusted my thinking to be compatible with my “new body” meaning I have more energy and am able to do more things. It has taken many years to balance my manic depression and my body physically but I feel like I have finally come to a conclusion of taking responsibility and sometimes being my own advocate to make decisions in taking what medication. Talk to your doctor. Some doctors are actually pharmacologists and know what goes with what and what works. Diana

      • Kathy said

        My 16 year old daughter takes 300 mg of lithium and 200 mgs of Zoloft per day, She states that she is having memory loss, I don’t understand this since she has been taking these meds for over 9 months. Her doctor says her body should have adjusted to the meds by now. Don’t know what else to do, she ‘s been on so many different ( severe side effects ) medications that I hate to try something else.

  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.

        • Mel T. said

          I’m with you you B. Stradley, we are supposed to notice the good and bad in people, places and things around us. Not be numb in life. I am sick of all the presciptions, tests, and any “diagnosis” which there are no real tests for. I am powering though it for the next 40-45 years I have left on this planet and enjoying everything about it! I am four days off 600 mg of Lithium for 5 years and my stomach is upset, but other than that I am writing again with clarity and feeling more like myself than in the past five years. If I need to learn to filter, I will but not with a chemical placed in my body.

      • Annette said

        Hair loss!!! Clumps!!! Went off it and never returned!!!

  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.

        • Mel T. said

          They forgot to tell you Wellbutrin’s number one side effect is “irritabilty” ha, been there done that, feels like we have been down same path.

      • rls714 said

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

    • Jackie said

      I have been taking LC for 25 years since my diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

      You CAN keep your weight down on lithium. Being a salt, it makes you very thirsty and you need to drink a lot of fluids to clear it through your kidneys. The trick is to DRINK WATER only…Don’t drink excess calories. NO juice, soda, wine, beer…. these will keep your weight up. I drink about 2 litres of water during the day and the same again during the night (as well as lots of tea, without sugar!)

      Lithium will make you crave both salty and sweet foods, as well as giving you a RAGING thirst. You need to break your appetite for sweet and salt and learn to love the taste of pure (boiled) water. This is what worked for me anyway. Once I cracked this code I lost 25kg (about 60 pounds) and have kept it off for years now and become much healthier. So I hope this helps you – eat healthily, don’t drink your calories, keep moving and stay healthy. Love to you all, and bless you.


  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.

      • Meg said

        My dr just upped me to 1200 mg of lithium bc my first blood test was low. It stopped my panic attacks but I still have anxiety even though she lowered my klonopin to .5 which is not enof and I’m tired all the time bad. Don’t even get up till 3 pm and then just sit on the couch. Also been very depressed and have a 7 yr old to take care of by myself. I have no clue what to ask her for for energy happiness, and anxiety. My eyes r so blurry rt now I can hardly write this. Any imput

  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.

          • H said

            B.—I had the exact same experience on high does of lithium (1200/day). I’m now on 300/day and back to normal. I was never able to express my symptoms as you did above. I literally felt like I lost my mind and personality. It was hell. I hope you are doing better?

  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.

        • Kym said

          Lithium is known to cause weight gain, but further to this, lexapro….it also makes people gain weight. Not sure about seroquel but most neuroleptics are known to cause weight gain and gynocomastia at higher doses. Still, ruling out endocrine issues like hypothyroid is always a good thing.

  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!

        • Kym said

          Ok Emmily, you rock. This is the best post/reply I’ve read:)

  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.

  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!

    • Sue said

      Hi Helena,

      You didn’t by chance use Champix/Chantix to quit smoking did you? I have just been prescribed Lithium after being diagnosed as Bipolar II after taking CHAMPIX. It was the drug that triggered my mental illness. No warnings labels then. Just saying it may not be your Lithium that’s the problem!

  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 😀

  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.

      • Mimmi said

        Actually you shouldn’t eat grapefruit when on lithium. I don’t remember if it increases or decreases the lithium levels but however it messes things up.

  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


    • 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.

      • 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?

        • Tracey said

          Good way to look at it.

          • 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

          • 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?

          • Ree said

            You might want to look into
            Abram Hoffer’s research on Niacin. I have also read many positive things about Lithium Orotate. Also look into Lecithin for it’s Choline.

          • 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

          • 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

          • 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!

          • Linmouth said

            wow, awesome take on the Bp lithium experience. totally get where you’re coming from and as it is the new year my resolution will be to get my body richer ;). I even recently asked for days at work so I can keep my resting hours up. I remember seeing things and hearing things too in college, it was really fun because my mind would make up stories with my paranoid thoughts, this was crazy because I play guitar and sing, so I just started writing songs about those experiences now. And at one point in my life I used my Bp (not knowing I was) super powers to zoom through school and get A grades, I was unstoppable…then college came and I entered wonderland. I FKN LOVED IT and could have cared less about my studies because, well, I had the attention span of a goldfish. I spat in my counsellors face when he suggested I take an ADHD and ADD test. Security on campus put me on their watchlist. I wanted to walk home one night at college and I did, from my campus to home which is more than 100K. I made it like halfway and got rides home. my mom thought I was crazy and needed to go to the hospital because even when I visiited home they could tell I wasn’t acting like myself I would sit for hours straight and think up paranoid thoughts, but I really just wanted to go walk home I guess, it was labelled as an ideal suicide and I laughed in my doctor’s face and insulted him, he said he could no longer help me and they couldn’t do anything for me. At one point (in my mind) the government was after me, and the military were looking for me to do tests (I believed that because there was someone who signed in the campus with a military id and I confronted him), my roommate had a secret passage way between his room and the one next to us which I called the rabbit hole. I believed my sociology teacher was my grandfather…I thought the criminal code handbook was a joke…I would shoot baskets and my two front teeth would go numb like coke and I felt high as ever. I thought I was part wolf and human and my dog was my best friend….super fun stuff. I drank full 26ers and felt like I had brain damage for a week. I stopped eating everything except vegetables because my body would have a bad reaction every time I ate anything else lost like 50 pounds. it was awesome..until I went to the hospital.I was on 600mg of lithium and 1mg resperidone, now I take 900mg of lithium and 1mg resperidone. I don’t feel the adverse side effects much anymore but I fucking hate taking these suckers because it makes me sick in my stomach and my whole body. I get what you’re saying though, I used to think like “oh no, what do I do now if I feel like this…” but I trust my mind always that’s the only thing I know to do. I went off lithium for like a week and started to feel really bad so I think I should keep taking them for a longer while. I also drink shit tons of water because I don’t want this drug in my if I force myself to do something I will do it and not mope around and think about paranoid thoughts even though it was the funnest thing in the world lmao. I’m crazy and I love it.

          • Kathy (for Richard) said

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

      • Melinda said

        What if lithium ‘allows’ you to live your life but your clinic NEVER will?
        I did not intend to sign my life away to a clinic/doctor which is what they expect if you want to stay on meds.
        There are no other options I can find right now.

  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. Kathy said

    I’ve been on lithium for about 22 years. Started at 450mg 2X day, but was able to lower to 1X day after about 2 years. I’m still there. As one of my sisters, who is on other anti-depressants/mood stabiliizers,said, “I’d rather go outside naked than not take my medication.” Right on! I’ve gained some weight and my thyroid went kaputt but I exercise regularly and can tolerate the few extra pounds (I enjoy eating and can’t blame everything on the lithium!). However, I have a happy marriage of 24 years, I like myself and my world, and I thank God for sending me to a psych who promptly and correctly diagnosed me before I blew my brains out. Really.

  153. PKeegs said

    I’m on 900 mg lithium and 3 mg Risperdal at the moment, and I am loving the combination. The Risperdal gets me to sleep at night and curbs my delusional thoughts, while the lithium keeps my mood level (including combating depression) and does the rest of the work against my psychosis. My head was cleared in April for the first time in four years. I had been self-medicating with pot since I was 17, but I didn’t realize it was just making my mood swings, anger, and psychosis worse. I was started on Depakote when I was 19, but at some point it started giving me ammonia poisoning and making all my symptoms worse. That was discontinued, and I was put on lithium and Risperdal, which seems to be the miracle combination for me. I can read and write again, I don’t feel the need to self-medicate, and I can get up in the mornings. All in all, I think Lithium is an amazing medication, and would trade the side effects for my sanity.

  154. Patrick said

    I am trying to get info about my insomnia and was wondering if was because I take my lithium late Patrick

  155. ashely said

    I have been in lithium for about 10 years 600mg at bed time I did not see any side effect but if I do not use it for few weeks every things back to mess so I am taking my best friend lithium and I doing well in life.

  156. tovebird said

    I’ve been on lithium for just shy of three months. The first month and a half it did not work at all due to my heavy self-medicating with alcohol and other substances. I decided the only way to give the lithium a chance would be to get sober. After about a month of not drinking I did feel more stable, with less suicidal ideation, but still somewhat depressed. I added some wellbutron I had in the medicine cabinet (then later consulted with my pdoc and got her okay) for the depression. I’ve had some “manic-like” anger and anxiety but don’t know what is prescription meds and what is post acute withdrawal symptoms from sobering up. My pdoc tested my blood last week and I got the news that the lithium (plus age plus family history plus being female plus being bipolar – all risk factors?)has raised my TSH to a 5 so I am basically suffering from sub-clinical hypothyroidism, which I will call my regular doc about tomorrow. I’ve been experiencing exhaustion for months, but now my hair is really falling out like crazy and I have headaches and constipation. My concern with the lithium at this point is, if it’s already beginning to destroy my thyroid, are my kidneys next? I don’t want to end up on dialysis! So I am going to taper down on the lithium reasonably slowly (I’m at 1200 mg daily with a blood level of 1) and try to find something else that will work for me. I’ve been on Abilify, Geodon, Serequel and Lamictal and none of them helped me. I am rapid cycling with mixed episodes, and had read the thyroid hormone (synthetic) levothyroxine in high does can help, although it carries a risk of osteoporosis. The other thing I am considering is ECT, although a friend of mine who had it for her major depression did not recommend it because of the memory loss she experienced. I have to say the one thing I have not experienced with lithium is weight gain, I’ve actually had a minor weight loss, probably due to not consuming large quantities of alcohol on a daily basis. The other thing I am looking into is supplementing with magnesium, although I don’t know if my pdoc will buy into that as a treatment. I’m just so disappointed the lithium attacked my thyroid so quickly, I was hoping I had found a good solution for my bipolar suicidal ideation. Thanks for this blog. Tovebird xoxoxo

  157. AlyssaMae said

    My name is Alyssa, and I was on lithium for two years. I can easily say it was the worst mistake my doctors ever made. I have been on 40+ medications and lithium was my doctors favorite. But now I can never take it again. I’m 16, with a body weight of 124. For two years I was on a dosage 1600mgs a day. We got my levels checked every two weeks and I seemed fine. Lithium put my brain in a cloud, and contradictory to what so many people have said, lithium is addicting. It is a certified narcotic. I couldn’t think or feel on lithium. I lived in a zombie haze half of the time. My doctors thought it best to up my medication. I was thenon 2500mgs of lithium a day. My memory started getting holes in it, I couldn’t remember my childhood or what I did the week before and then I got sick. My kidneys started to react and I started with a kidney infection that progressed to absesses and tumors in my kidneys. Then it moved to my blood, I was put in the hospital for a long period of time for blood toxicity and poisening. I was dying, and still taking lithium because they didn’t figure that was the cause. I was losing all of my hair and my brain capacity, my body was constantly shaking in tremors. My skin was frail and I bruised non-stop. They called in a specialist, I was 13 at the time. The doctor found out that the lithium was poisening me and I had to be taken off of it. I had terrible withdrawls. And had to be put into rehab to control them. Multiple people in my family have been on lithium, mine being the worst reaction. Lithium isn’t amazing, and it nearly killed me. I still can’t remember things, and I still have complete blackouts where the doctor said I’m just catonic. Lithium ruined my life and my brain.
    Just some advice, you may think it’s helping you. I did too. Even when I was sick I wanted to stay on it, because it does that to your brain. It puts you in a cloud and you don’t see things for ehatcthey are. You become addicted. Lithium can ruin your chances for having kids and scar you for life. Be careful. Because now at 16 I have constant medical issues because of that drug

  158. Rita said

    My son is on lithium but his body seems to burn it up really fast so he has to take very large doses of it was wondering if anyone knows why this might be

  159. angie said

    Lithium “OROTATE” from the company that sells the authentic OROTATE mixture … NOT just any bottle of lithium orotate you find… is the more EFFICIENT use of lithium… it will “absorb” into your blood cells/ bloodstream. Lithuim comes in about 4 binders, and the correct OROTATE brand is best !! i will write the company when and after i find it.

  160. Maura Adams said

    I just want everyone to know that if your on lithium and have a kidney infection the infection will raise the lithium levels to dangerous highs. if you suspect a kidney infection stop the med and get to your GP or A and E at once. Also don”t expect the doctors to know this In my case five doctors didn”t hard to believe but true.. The kidneys can”t deal with the lithium when dealing with an infection and so dump it into the blood When the levels are high a lot of doctors think just stopping the med will be enough. It is not enough if there is an infection and I V will probably be needed. You need to know because doctors don”t

  161. I have been taking lithium for 33 long years , i was diagnosed at 24 i am now 57years old. So how do i feel now and how does it affect me . Here is the negative side, I cannot concerntrate anymore ,i have lost my memory, i pee 3 times a night ,i get pains in my lower back,my speeh can become slurred sometimes,i cannot write or form sentences , it has taken me 30 minutes to write this! and its frustrating, on the plus or positive side im am still here and alive ,be it in a dumbed down state. I would like to add that getting rid of any stress in your life is a major factor this is what i did, i went bankrupt , i got divorced, and i sold my house these three things helped me survive bi-polar .

  162. Patricia said

    Is anyone taking lithium today

  163. Patricia said

    Will hair loss eventually stop while taking lithium? Been on it for 4 MONTHS.

  164. Melinda said

    Hi. I have a question about my lithium maybe you can help me with.
    I have been on lithium for 19 years…along the way other meds have been added and dropped because of side effects. I can only take 900 mg lithium a day/no more because of side effects.
    I have been in a ‘good’ place for 6 years (not perfect) I was in aggressive thearpy and since the ‘meds’ did not work as well as the doc/counselors expected I never got ‘totally’ better but was able to live a happy life managing the ups and downs I still would experience w/coping skills, staying on my meds…lithium, xanax – never stopped taking meds.
    Now, my clinic has been turned into a place I lOATHE by some ego-manic that has changed all the rules.
    They have pulled my out of a comfortable place back into thearpy once a mo – no more xanax, they are not going to prescribe it and are weeing me off of it.
    Now if I was just starting to get help for my bi-polar, I would not mind all their ‘new’ ways but they have totally blown apart all my hard work I have ALREADY done over the past 19 years and put me jeapordy of going back into a full blown mania/depression! I have expressed my feelings about this to them and they don’t care – they just want you to do what they say.
    Well, at the risk of putting my bi-polar back into full speed, I DO NOT think I should have to council my whole life just to appease Hamilton Counseling Center in OH (Don’t ANYONE go there for help) When I am safely off the xanax I want to go for getting off the lithium.
    I am on medicare and no PCP/doctor’s accept medicare that would give me lithium and I cannot go on where I am at. I do not have the funds to pay a doctor that does not accept medicare.
    I started going to HCC back in 1995 – got to a ‘good’ point for 6-7 years – and now their changes have pushed me too far. I would rather be off this little bit of lithium so I will not be put in this position of being on a controlled substance that can be taken away whenever some ego-maniac decides to make a change.
    Tell me, can someone who has never really gotten completley better from meds, but has 14+ of aggressive thearpy and understanding of my illness and 6-7 years ‘stable’ while still taking meds and going to clinic every 3 mos. for meds possibly be OK w/o 900 mg of lithium a day??
    I know people suggest you don’t stopy taking – but I DO NOT want to be under somebody’s thumb when it comes to my well being and where I live there is no place else for me to go.
    I have done enuff – I did the thearpy – I did try all the meds and could not take them- I DID get to NOT have to go to thearpy and stayed on my meds and was FINE until – you guessed it- The ego-manic came to my clininc. This clinic and those that work there ARE my Biggest Stressor more than ANY OTHER thing in my life. I have to get away from them and thay place.
    All I will be on is a measly 900 mg of lithium – CAN I MAKE IT W/O IT? No one really knows until I TRY – But I would love any suggestions you may have for me to act on or think about.
    Thank you so much,

  165. Martin Orrego-Gonzalez said

    I have been recently diagnosed with being bipolar. I was put on Lithium. Since starting it I have been feeling “foggy” and I am unable to cry anymore. Does anyone else feel like this?; Is this normal?

  166. bryan b. said

    I have been on lithium for 5 yrs. now. Not working so well after a while. So They kept raising dosage. And still no relief now im weening off and having a very difficult time. They changed me to lamictal. Now still coming off lithium. It is very difficult. Having thoughts of suicide and impending doom. I am very worried and my 3 Little kids, have to witness my dark side. Like I said did Work but now i am 5x worse. I go to phsyce tomorrow because of the anxiety, stress and severe paranoia. I Hope all goes well. I hope this may hrlp someone.

  167. rachaelsmith1981 said

    I am not sure who to address, but I just found this page and I found the last post very interesting, informative and thoughtful. I am almost 1 week into taking lithium. I shot myself under the chin in ’09 and survived. Dont even ask how…Ive been on everything under the sun since then. Just recently my gp recommended lithium and I was so surprised that no other docs had even mentioned it. Just like ur post, he explained that it is simply not in vogue and there r no kick backs like the newer drugs that I have been on.
    Which was funny to me is that when I was 15, in ’96, I slit my throat and just barely made it. At that time I was prescribed lithium. But, like I said, after the gun shot not a singlebprofessional

  168. Stephanie said

    Hello. Just wondering if anyone else had experienced a similar reaction to lithium… My husband has been struggling with depression for years. He’s 29 now. I noticed his mood swings and questioned bipolar. (His mom has bipolar) he saw his family doctor later that week and he was prescribed lithium. He didn’t notice much of a difference so his family doctor increased the amount. A few days after that he became like a walking zombie. Unemotional to anything. He ended up telling me he wasn’t in love with me anymore and wanted to leave. As I sat there shocked, because it was so out of the blue as we had a great relationship, I was also 6 months pregnant with our 2nd daughter, I was hysterical, crying and he just sat there and said nothing and was so cold towards me. He spoke to his mom and she suggested to stop lithium because she had been on it too and she hated the drug when she was on it. So he stopped the lithium thinking maybe it’s the drug that is making me so depressed. ( which by the way, he told me he wanted to leave because he wasn’t good enough for me) after 2 weeks of being off of it. He told me he loved me agsin and that everything is fine. That was about 6 months ago. He finally saw a psychiatrist and found out he is not bipolar and that he has chronic depression. He talks about it now and says that the lithium made him think that he was so sure that he didn’t love me and he’d be happier being single. Those few weeks were the hardest days I’ve ever been through. I had never seen him do cold and Unemotional towards me. He’s lucky I fought for him during that time as he now has 2 beautiful daughters that he loves so much. And the thought of him giving that up would of killed him. Anybody else think this way on lithium?

  169. I took lithium for 10 years. And I now have the most humongous headache ever recorded. Perhaps lithium “helped” me keep a mental balance all this time, but I feel like Iithium will ultimatly kill me in the long run.

    I am 28 and I am seriously searching for a natural alternative to lithium-cabolith, like in a fruit or something. If it exist.
    I can’t swallow any more pills. Sorry doc.

    NIce blog btw!

  170. Casey said

    Lithium is and has been a miracle drug for me. I was in the deepest, darkest, debilitating depression ever. I take 1200 mg, 300 mg of triliptal, 3 mg of Klonipin, 150 mg of Trazadone. Have been on Lithium for 12 years on and off. Cannot stay stable without it! The older I get I rapid cycle and the depression is god awful

  171. kevin said

    i also have stoped taking this crap to ive taken it for 18 years I feel a lot better.

  172. Ashley Sullivan said

    I appreciate ur info on lithium. I just started it and wanted to know more. Iv been manic depressive for 9 yrs now and I’m only 31. Iv tried just about every prescribed drug on the market and was beginning to lose hope. I’m excited to see how this will improve my life and self. Does it take away the feelings of anxiousness and/or panic attacks?

    I do have a question for u.. iv also been battling with servere anxiety to the point of becoming goaraphobic. Has lithium helped or been known to help anxiety?
    I am not on any other prescriptions, for anxiety or anything else. And don’t participated in any recreational drugs, as well.

    I appreciate ur knowledge , opinion and experience. Take care.

  173. John said

    I am very sensitive to lithium.It completely destroys my creativity and makes me feel like a passenger in my own life.I am now coming off it under my doctors supervision and going to try mono-therapy with latuda. Lithium has also caused me skin problems which are starting to clear with the reduction.Maybe this medication suits some people but if your creativity is a integral part of your being you will probably find it stifling.I do believe the benefits of micro dosing with lithium have been under researched and could provide some benefits.I am sure for some people this medication can be a life saver but for me when I’m on it I feel like I don’t have a life.Still I am struggling to take less medication like a moth to a flame I hope I can get the balancing act right this time and hope latuda has enough gravitational pull on my upward tendencies.

  174. Daniel J. Lobner said

    Been searching for the answer of how lithium is able to calm the raging mind, seems its a great mystery to science.
    I wonder if the answer lies in what i learned in 8th grade science – that if you throw a lump of lithium in a bucket of water it almost explodes in its reaction as it gives of hydrogen gas.
    Could it be that when the lithium salt breaks down in the body and the freed atom of lithium meets h2o – it reacts and hydrogen gas is given off – and its the hydrogen gas is the mysterious agent that calms the rageing brain.
    So i google in the key words hydrogen and brain – and up pops a page about research done on the brains of rats. 24 where given surgical trama to the brain tissue, 12 of them recived a mixture of hydrogen gas upon the brain tissue.
    After 24 hours the brains where tested and the brains that recived hydrogen proved to have much less damage.
    Seems that hydrogen gas is a very powerfull anti-oxidant.
    If i recive the Nobel peace prize in medicine for solving the mystery of lithiums effect on the brain, i feel this prize should be shared with those that did the work on the rat brains.

  175. Steve Martin said

    I’m not a big fan of Lithium for long-term therapeutic applications. I was on it for quite awhile. It’s a superior anti-manic drug (in my experience) to Depakote or Lamictal. What it comes down to for me is that I want to be able to enjoy and experience life. I wasted two years on both a heavy dose of Depakote and Zyprexa. It was horrible – even though at the time my doctor and I thought it was the right thing to do (maybe it was at that time). Since then I have also gone to Lamictal, and while it’s not an extremely potent depressant, I feel the most ‘normal’ I’ve ever felt. I stand by what most of the physicians I have spoke to say, which is the least amount of medication you can get by with is the best for both your body and your mind. Other people may disagree or have different experience, but I found out that the fewer and lower amount of drugs I was taking, the better I felt physically and mentally.

  176. Embers said

    When I first got dx’d with Bipolar 1, they put me on Lamotragine (Lamictal), and it sent me into a terrible, suicidal mixed episode. After several months of torture, they finally they weaned me off of it and put me on Lithobid (Lithium). Lithium literally SAVED MY LIFE. I did get sick and vomit a few times during the first few weeks, but within several days I was already feeling better. It’s been a year, and I haven’t had one hypomanic episode. I do still have some depression, so I am starting an anti-depressant, and I also need a sleeping pill in order to sleep well. And I do still occasionally feel nauseated if I don’t eat enough when I take it. I also gained a good deal of weight, but I began losing some of it once I put my mind to it. Despite the negatives, Lithium is still my hero. My advice to others is to trust yourself. We are all wired differently. Don’t take something that works for someone else if it’s not working for you. Case-in-point: I’m glad Lamictal is working for others, but I can’t risk being suicidal again, so it’s Lithium for me.

  177. sarah said

    I just started on lithium and found this site. I’m a little nervous about weight gain and all the other side effects you hear about. It is nice to hear about a good experience! Has anyone taken lithium with topomax?

  178. nicole said

    I just started lithium 4 months ago 600mg in the morning and seroquel 50mg at night. I had bloodwork done when i first started lithium but not since than. Still having ups and downs more recently than before- im still learning what effects lithium levels such as caffeine/over counter medicines. If lithium level gets to high can that cause manic? As i stated im still learning any suggestions would be greatly appreciated 🙂 like what not to drink/take etc

  179. I AM dren said

    Yea on the subject of Lithium…
    Pissed off & suicidal after quitting 4- months earlier the 7 year anti-depressant that never did work from the beginning-yes, I would even on some days, OK ALOT of days- COUNT every single SMILE I faked that day.
    So after stopping the med. Which I realize didn’t help with the depression, but did an amazingly great job at keeping the anger I had, and diddnt know about until I stopped the antidepressant at bay.

    So yes, now I’m NOT depressed, instead I’m filled up with ANGER…and & ANGRY thoughts, thrown comments towards morons, dumb-ass drivers, people in the grocery line that says “10-tems ONLY”, buy they have fun 11-with very clear statements of “gawed, I wish I was dead!”, “Dam you people are morons! “Why am STILL EXISTING”, n such.

    Back to lithium….so pissed n suicidal I asked my shrink of 10-years “GIVE ME LITHIUM! (I heard the song-Lithium by Evenescence, and wanna feel just like that) so my shrink gave me a script.

    This is my question:
    I am 5’7
    I weigh 170
    The script says to take 3-Capsules every evening,
    Lithium CO3*300MG(pm)
    Is this a good starter dose???
    Or is my shrink trying to help put me out if my misery???

    And no I have not yet, cuz I’m still wondering.

  180. Diana said

    My comment is this I have been on lithium carbamate 300mg 3x a day and I lost 40 pounds in less than 5 months

  181. Mick said

    My girlfriend is bipolar, She seemed to be not in one of her “funks” when I met her, But she did warn me of how things could be. I’ve been browsing these sites for quite awhile now in relation to bipolar and the different meds she’s been on since Ive been with her, so I know what to expect. She hit a massive low last year. To make things more complicated we are a very serious couple but are demographically challenenged. We see usually were seeing each other just about every weekend and for awhile every other weekend. She has kids, I have kids. Before this low, Our kids were starting to hang out together, we got engaged last year. Things were looking pretty good. As a result of the low, she was put on lithium. Not sure what her dosage is, THis seems to have worked for a couple different things. She started leaving the house again without panic attacks. And for awhile, I couldnt see her. She had too much anxiety for me even to come up to her house. Coming to mine was out of the question, and still is….although she is getting better.
    I feel the need to explain a certain dynamic of our relationship. We were the couple everyone hates, NO not doing suggestive things in public..But We’d stand up in the middle of a restaraunt and start slow dancing, not afraid to hold hands or give each other a smooch in public. That kind of thing. She would tell me quite often how much she loved me…Do special little things…Send a card, Tell me how much it means to her to have me in her corner etc. Lovey Dovey stuff…. I understand that someone batting 500 in the spring cannot hope to still be batting 500 at the end of the seasons..and I know that every day isnt going to be some intense loving experience. But after her lithium took hold, The love turned off like a light switch. She swears she still loves me, and I believe her, but I’ve lost my soul mate here. Almost feel weird showing her…Writing things, saying things, doing things for her etc…as it has become 100% one sided. Its like I am dating Archie Bunker.. Just sits there and has no real emotion. I want to hang out for her as long as I can, but I wonder if I could go through the rest of my life feeling like I am nothing more than someone that she used to feel very strongly for. For me I like to look into my woman’s eyes and see a reflection of the love I feel for her. And that fire in her eyes has been replaced by an apathetic distant Daze. ON the other hand I also dont want her to go into another depression. Its more about her in my book. She needs to be happy before anyone else around her can be. So definately not trying to sound selfish. But its like almost getting over the loss of someone before they are really even gone. Because she’s so different and cold now….THats almost like I am dating a different person.

    Are there any remedial things that can be done, a different script in addition to lithium that could maybe allow her to be able to enjoy life again instead of being so indifferent to it. I love this girl, but theres only so much I can put into this, I am getting burned out. I dont want to give up..BUt me even saying the words “Give up” should tell you how beat up I Am over this thing. From the Super low not seeing her for a couple months, to now its like she has no feelings at all. Its taken its toll on us. Just want to find answers and solutions that dont involve the advice I find on so many other sites like “The girls crazy dump her and run” Etc. I see that all over the place.

    • Hal said

      Hi Mick – Maybe she could lower her dose and find the fewest that’s effective for her. Low dose lithium can be very effective for some people. Or trying other meds/combos… It takes some time to find the right treatment, but she’ll get there. I wish you both all the best.

  182. irene n said

    Do you know which blood pressure meds are the safest to take while on lithium? And by any chance, which diabetes meds as well? My husband is bipolar and he wants to try lithium one more time. Last month the hospital gave him too much and it also interacted with his blood pressure meds. After 12 years of trying every other med, lithium was one of the only ones that actually was working. The hospital really messed up. The doctors are lazy and incompetent. He is really brave for wanting to give it another shot.

    • Cindy said

      24 years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar. My daughter was about a year old at the time. I had a psychotic eopisode and went into the hospital for 2 weeks. My doc prescribed lithium after a very short visit. I have weened off of the med about 2 months ago with a docs overseeing me. Long story short, it appears that I was experiencing post pardum dep 24 years ago, not bipolar. I am watching myself closely and am thinking much clearer now. Not yet convinced I don’t have bipolar as I don’t know what’s quite normal yet. So far so good as the saying goes. It’s a very scary thing to take this leap for sure. I have close friends and family monitoring me closely but only time will tell.

  183. anthony kamm said

    Hi my names anthony and ive been on lithium for about 4 months. It works really well for me and i have plenty of ups and down just recently my doctors started me on 600 milligams instead of 300, just today i was working with my father and ive had severe kidney pains.. Could this be linked to the uppage of dosing?

  184. jeff ezell said

    I’ve been with him since 1991 24 years and now
    I take 600 milligrams every 12 hours that’s twice today 1200 milligrams a day and I will take that until I die that’s what they tell me

  185. Adam said

    I have been on 900mg lithium / 100mg lamictal for 2 months now and my doctor wants to increase my lamictal to 200 over a course of a month and then stop the lithium once the lamictal is at 200mg and I have to say I am happy with the way I feel from the current doses I am taking.

    May I ask what amount of lamictal you were taking when you started having a bad reaction? Thank you

    Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter

  186. aecirenza said

    Hello my name is Adam I am 28 years old and I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 months ago I have been taking 900 milligrams of lithium daily as well as 100 milligrams of lamictal daily the doctor wants to increase my lamictal – 200 milligrams and then get rid of get rid of the lithium altogether I am nervous about this because I cannot afford another manic episode or serious side effects

    Any help would be greatly appreciated

  187. Diana said

    You need to get off lithium and stay off it!

  188. Steve M said

    Lithium is a good drug in many situations. It proved to not be the greatest drug for me, but some swear by it.

    I hypothesize that the reason I don’t like it is because of its effect on serotonin levels. At one time, I find relief from depression using SSRIs, but over the years they increased my anxiety, hyper-vigilance, and the side effects were undesirable. Lithium works differently, exercising most of its effects on Glutamate, but it also increases 5HT.

    lamotrigine has worked really well for me. I take 159mg daily, and I’ve found it does a great job of lowering the extremity of my mood. I have not had a depressive or manic episode since I began taking it in 2013.

    If you’re concerned about coming off of lithium, and are switching to a different drug, often you doc will keep you in-house (if you can afford it), to make sure you adjust while safely under supervision.

    I don’t mean to say that lithium is a bad drug, I’m just relating my experience.

  189. Marysol said

    Hello, I am reading all these comments and I am convinced that Lithium works for most. I was just prescribed Lithium a few days ago. 300 mg 2x a day. I decided to only start with one pill once a day to see if it works and if I experience any of the side effects everyone talks about. I was on Celexa 10 mgs a day but stopped taking it a yr ago and in addition to the Lithium I was given a prescription for 20 mgs of Celexa. Does anyone know if my decision to cut the dose of Lithium in half would be effective? I return for labs in March so I will let the Dr. know then but Im just nervous about all the negatives esp the weight gain part.

  190. Would like to hear more from people and their expiences with lithium…I’ve been on it 25yrs and what I went thru in the beginning was horrific…am now on lower dose with wellbutrin(can’t really tell u much about the combo yet but my 30 ur old daughter has uunfortuntely been handed down this sickness. And yea we all are lab rats. The torment she’s suffering has brought to my memory so many things. I can advice her from my walk thru it but its killing me to see her this way

  191. Bernadette Coyne said

    My doctor increased my lithuim from 600 mg to 900mg. This was 2 weeks ago could it be causing a rash & redness on my skin. I haven’t changed anything else. It’s itchy started on my stomach. Ty

  192. Christine said

    Am on lithium for a couple years and if I don’t take it I go and do something really stupid but the doctor has me on 1200 mgs. I feel that is to much. I gained weight my face is always red I think it caused rosaea; I used to be really smart now I feel stupid. My hair is thinning and falling out and I started to tremble. I am bipolar 2 more depressed than manic. Its hard to tell if lithium is a good choice. I still suffer from extreme lows and it seems like SSRs wont work. Like Wellbutrin and Lexapro. I suffer from terrible insomnia and depression and anxiety.

  193. Lindsey Austin said

    I’ve only been taking 600mg of lithium for 6 days now. I immediately noticed I was way way more talkative and started peeing ALOT. I drink tons of water anyway but man I’m really going alot. Im 31 and went from being on effexor and kolonopin to lithium and zanax. Now I typical drink pretty heavy once or twice a week. I just don’t take my meds 12 hours prior to knowing I’m gonna drink. I haven’t done this yet with lithium and honest I’m kinda scared…. anyway supposed to move up to 900 mgs of lithium after 10 days. So I guess we shall see.

  194. Ativan (lorazepam worked really good for my anxiety.I was also on lithium at the time but i believed that I was diagnosed wrong I had a lot of personal problems going on. I was diagnosed and suffered more from PTSD than bipolar. I have been off all medications for 3 years now and feel great I gained a lot of weight on lithium I’ve now lost a hundred and ten pounds since I’ve been off of it but also while trying to lose weight.

  195. Chris said

    Everyone seems to be complaining about Lithium but for some the benifits by far out weigh the risk…….Ive been depressed and full of anxiety my whole life Lithium seems to have given me a shot at a better life.

  196. I take lamictal and lithium and still no changes. What should i do or ask my dr

  197. Tina Sands said

    I have tried every drug known to man to replace my lithium over the past 12 years to no avail. Lamictal gave me a nasty rash that had my Dr take me off it immediately. Current nephrologist say my kidneys are fine and go as low on my dose as I can as long as the lithium is effective. Little comfort

  198. Tina Sands said

    I have tried every drug known to man to replace my lithium over the past 12 years to no avail. Lamictal gave me a nasty rash that had my Dr take me off it immediately. Current nephrologist say my kidneys are fine and go as low on my dose as I can as long as the lithium is effective. Little comfort

  199. deb said

    My lithium test report says that 0.43 mEq/L , my doctor prescribed lithium 400 tablets . After taking these tablets i feel very bad like my body is shivering , stammering ,weakness , digestion problems and sexual problems , sleeping disorder even my ear is ringing . And seriously i didn’t get rid of mood swings. Why I feel like this ? Please let me know .

    • nick said

      Give it time, ive been taking it for 32 years, yes, your concentration will be impaired,yes you will stammer now and again and have digestive problems and more but when your body gets accustomed to lithium the side effects will gradually ease.

  200. gerrod stinson said

    Is it safe to go back onto lithium after being off of it for a month?

  201. Chrissy said

    I recently started taking Lithium and am very drowsy and less alert during the day. I read this was a side effect, but does this ever go away? I don’t know if I can concentrate at work doing the same job. I hope this doesn’t last forever… Also, already noticing the weight gain. :/

    • B G said

      Scared 😑 I’ve never been this scared to take a pill in my life I’m 23 I’ve been on depecote ability lexapro seroquiel almost everything but I can’t get myself to take one lithium I’m scared for my life is this normal?

  202. D G said

    I’ve been on Lithium for 6 years…I have become a zombie. I don’t feel. I have no emotions. I never laugh or make people laugh anymore. I’ve become a mute basically, I never have anything to say and can’t seem to hold a conversation. I miss laughing so much, the only thing I feel is sadness because nothing makes me laugh I don’t want to live my life like this! My eyesight keeps getting worse and worse, food doesn’t even taste the same, it’s as though I have almost no taste buds! Yes lithium has calmed me down, I don’t get manic, I don’t get nearly as irritable as I did before lithium, I don’t really get depressed until I realize I’m not laughing while everyone else is, or making people laugh anymore. Does anyone else go through any of this? If I stop taking lithium am I going to be come manic again and I used to have the worst manic episodes I even tattooed my face. I can’t live like this…is there anything else out there besides lithium that will give me back my personality? AND MY LIBIDO!?!?!? Because that is completely gone. I need to feel again, but I don’t want to suffer the outbursts or mania, violence or deep depression. Please advise?

    • Roymond said

      Personally I would say you need a different doctor — on lithium for six years, and it’s messed you up like this, and your doc hasn’t explored any other options?

      I went off lithium because it was contributing to joint deterioration. I’m on a couple of other things now, and they do the trick fairly well. I get mini-mania episodes and the occasional funk, but the swings and extremes are nothing like they were before lithium, and both can be mitigated a lot by using my light box.

      Tell your doc you want off lithium — you’re in charge, so it’s the doc’s job to find a workable substitute. The effort of finding that substitute made me feel a bit like a guinea pig, but the result was well worth it!

  203. Shawn Denham said

    I been on lithium for about 2 months seem to be working I don’t understand why doc won’t prescribe it today its not there first choice I am still learning about it

  204. Wendy Lester said

    Hi I am on lithium 400mg a few weeks ago I stopped it because I convinced myself I didn’t need it is was really happy very talkative full of energy then I became scared so I started it again since then I have been really depressed and emotionaliss and detached from reality I was wondering should I stop the lithium again

    • Roymond said

      Going on and off any med on your own is a bad idea unless — and only unless — your doc has discussed it with you and agreed you are capable of monitoring your own situation. That said, lithium is not a med you want to play around with! SO this is a question for your doc — explain the whole thing, and follow the resulting advice.

  205. Annette said

    Have u been diagnosed bipolar for sure. Is this the first med you received since diagnosis and if so how long were you on it before you stopped?? We will take it from there. Annette

  206. Cheryl Murie-Sanders said

    I inherited my Bi-Polar disease. I saw what it did to my father’s very existence.
    I made a promise to myself that I would battle this disease forever. I try to represent to the masses that what I have is a disease and that I expect to be treated with respect as any other good citizen. Unfortunately, my worse enemies are my own family. If I act out like a ‘normal’ person It is due to my illness not just reacting normally. As I get older I find it harder to fight the disease while trying to remove the stigma I carry. To me it is a lonely and secretive disease. I was on many Dr. prescribed medications and weened off of everything except Lithium and Clonazapan. My doctor and I agreed I could drop from 750 mg to 600 of Lithium and from 1.0 mg Clonazapan to 0.5. After years of working to a point of living well I plummeted into mental illness within a couple of days since the reduction of both meds. My doctor increased my dosage back to the original. I am suffering greatly since this roller coaster change, (mild – serious symptoms). I spent years climbing the Mount Everest of living a healthy life. I was on top for years and years. Then within a couple of days I fell down the mountain; just like that. I am starting all over again. It’s been two weeks of severe depression, physical ailments that stop me from even walking and I am completely withdrawn from family who appeared inconvenienced and mad at my relapse. I can’t stop crying for so many reasons. I am taking my meds but it’s the loneliness of this disease that makes me want to commit suicide not brain waves so much. Thanks for letting me vent. I welcome tips in helping me cope with the med withdrawal/increase symptoms. Drinking water, eating, sleeping and stepping outdoors for a bit fresh air. How can I stop the aches and pains in my body, (e.g., electric pulses, fatigue, etc.). Again, it is comforting to know I am not alone. Blessings to all. Who do you trust?

  207. nick said

    I inherited bi polar too,Im now 60 and was diagnosed at 24.Firstly your back on the right dosage for you, which is you have to find something to keep your mind occupied till the meds kick in, what do you like to do when your well? watching video, you tube, painting, walking making a blog?try to do little things thru the day that you enjoy.I fell off the mountain many times its hard to get back up i know but you will get there, it takes time which isnt easy for anybody who has bi polar . I would encourage you to watch youtube and look for people like us who are in the same situation as you.

  208. Cheryl Murie-Sanders said

    Thank you for your advice and encouragement. I do have to ‘get there’. I hear what you are saying. I am 58, (survived the good ole 70s) so I think I can survive this decade too. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to reply. I am going to especially seek out a support group, (vis dr.) near home. Thanks again.

  209. Roymond said

    I got through a recent resurgence of depression and some dark mania by binge-watching TV shows via Netflix. It hasn’t been a productive way to spend time, but happily the people who know me understand that I am actually more productive this way because it enables me to surface every few episodes and deal with life stably for ten or fifteen minutes. It’s changed my attitude toward Netflix, too: I used to view it as just a way to waste time, but in this case it fills time in a way that distracts me from the darkness trying to drag me down.

  210. Need to know more about this medication my kid is on.

  211. Jeremy revell said

    Lithium and clozapine are the only”true” mood stabilizers. By the book a mood stabilizer needs to have anti-depressant and anti-manic properties and lithium and clozapine are the only Medications that fit that. Many of the other “mood stabilizers” are anti-psychotics and seizure Meds that may have anti manic properties and do not offer anti-depressant effects. Capitalist societys Pharm are ruled by drug companies that push Meds that they make money on. No one is making money on lithium despite clear and away no medication can match its effectiveness. If you look at drug company studies try to find a “mood stabilizer” on the market that did competitor studies against lithium, you won’t find anything. Drug companies have ingrained in mds that don’t keep up with literature and the general population that is is a dangerous drug. Meanwhile they push drugs that have known side effects that are much worse (tardive dyskinesia, diabetes, increased cholesterol, and other effects that we may not know for years down the road). Glad you have found a combination that works and have been successful treating with this combination. Lamictal is hit and miss but has a very benign side effect profile. Main concern is a rash which can occur in some cases and a lethal rash called Steven Johnson,s sydrome which is rare and associated with multiple drugs (even ibuprofen ) and generally happpens early when starting the med and especially if the dose is titrated quickly.

    • mithrandale said

      I’d been on Lamictal about seven years with no problems, then one night my skin started itching, followed by red blotches appearing, and the red blotches starting to swell. Happily I recognized what it might be and called a hotline to verify it; more happily I had what I needed to treat the sudden reaction without needing to go to the ER or anything.

    • They are all poison,try herbs

      • mithrandale said

        Switching from actual medications to herbs is like playing Russian roulette: you don’t know what’s coming, and it could cost you your life.

        Oh, BTW: herbs are poisons, too — it just depends on the dose.

  212. Sara said

    Thank you for your well thought out and researched blog post. I too am a mad woman. After being on every antidepressant known to man, we just added lithium to my current cocktail as a last ditch effort before electro shock therapy. It’s day 2, and things are just worsening. I don’t know if I should ride it out, like it’s just the normal “first week” crappiness, or if something is terribly wrong. I am not bipolar, I am just consistently depressed, nearly constantly, for most of my adult life. I was afraid to start this drug since it’s touted as calming manic phases, and I really think that’s the last thing I need. Good lord, a manic phase would be a nice change. So far, since adding lithium, my energy is lower, my moods swings are more violent (teetering between 5 minutes of “I’m ok, I think I’ll live”, to “must sleep now,” with incredible sadness. I know I could always check with my doctor, but my gut tells me I need to ask a forum with personal experience. Should I ride this out? Or is this as bad a move as I feel, and I should turn this car around before I really sink? I am really scared, and tired of this medication roller coaster from hell.

    • mithrandale said

      Sarah, it sounds to me as though you actually suffer from bipolar disorder — the apparent absence of mania doesn’t rule it out. Mania doesn’t necessarily mean you feel on top of the world; you can be depressed and manic at the same time — it’s often called “dark mania”, and I know it well: it can feel a lot like obsessing over something, with more energy tan usual and a need to get things done, but without the depression lifting so instead of feeling eager and able you may feel despairing instead.

      I know the trying “every antidepressant known to man”, too. I had an excellent doctor who shepherded me through a series and remember well the exasperation of taking a med that statistically stabilized four-fifths of patients only to find I was one of the remaining fifth, then doing it again, and again. And in spite of the pills, I often got the “must sleep now” symptom, literally falling asleep with my face on my keyboard a number of times (once in the university open computer lab).

      As for lithium, yes it’s “touted as calming manic phases”, but that’s because calming manic phases is its most dramatic success; what it really functions as is a mood stabilizer. It’s not as commonly noted that it can cut the legs off depression, reducing the depth just as well as it can reign in the ‘height’ of manic episodes. The caveat here is that where it stabilizes your mood is not predictable; it may stabilize you in your “I’m ok, I think I’ll live” condition, but there’s also a chance it could stabilize you somewhat lower (and a slim one that it could stabilize you higher).

      I’m surprised, though, that your psychiatrist didn’t start you on lithium; bringing it in only after trying a series of antidepressants seems odd.

      Finally, there are things your doctor should have had you try besides meds. Diet can be critical, exercise certainly is, and light levels are sometimes key (I didn’t get much more than just functional even with meds, exercise, and diet until a conservative Christian counselor I knew recommended “maximum skin exposure” to sunlight and I discovered just how sensitive to light levels I am). Daily schedule can also be important, especially in the mornings where having essentially a morning “ritual” can set the tone for the whole day; “ritual” can include reading a chapter of a book, having special music on, watching an inspiring video, etc. (mine includes at least a half hour of near-total quiet while checking email from friends).

      At any rate — yes, ride it out. It can take weeks for any new med to have a noticeable effect. But while doing so, explore some other options, too.

  213. Sean said

    I started on 300 mg of Lithium and presently am up to 600mg. My intake does not even substantiate having my blood levels checked, but after 2 weeks, I am having terrible insomnia (Never been a problem) and I feel quite “spacey” in the A.M. My wife even tells me that my pupils appear constricted and that they were “rolling around” in my head earlier today.
    Before going further, I am far from what many believe to be the “Typical psych patient”.I am highly functional, a physician, business person and true family man….I do my best. (In reality, I fully understand that many “psych patients” are indeed quite brilliant but so very misunderstood and then they get treated by the Drs who were the “wackos” in med school. (There are obviously a number of fine psychiatrists, but if anyone feels that their Pdoc may be nuts, well they may be right)).
    My apologies for the digression. My issue is quite simple….I know the side effects of Lithium toxicity and this is not remotely my situation.
    Personally, I am discontinuing this med (I feel as if my eyes start to lose focus driving)…….No acute mind ordering drugs on board either.
    I must ask (And why I have chosen to do this in a fashion which I tell patients not to trust everyday), I will ask if anyone has had such a responce ?
    Very odd, very real and very causal.

  214. Tammy Keene said

    I was on lithem and i was a zombie. I sat didn’t talk didn’t think – it was my friends that took me to the doctor demanding I be taken off the drug that basically took my life out of me . They were prepared for a class action lawsuit and a threat to the medical examiners board which if anyone knows of misuse mistreatment of a patient like drs that have sex when a person has no input the drs can lose his or her license every state has one and the law states it is illegal to over prescribe as it is to under prescribe. I was taken off the drug lithem TGAT day within a few days to get it out of my system I came back to life and I owe my life to my friends that said I was like the living dead . So please if you are on lithem ask people around you for help because in my case I was so NUMB TO LIFE I had no idea that basically I was a zombie they took videos of me and showed me after I got off that death drug and I’m now suing the dr. You may find the laws make it hard to sue a dr but there are punitive damages and go after the drug company if you don’t have help get it because that drug messed me up so bad I had no idea they were killing me. And by that I mean I may of been breathing but I was a empty shell I didn’t care if I bathed combed my hair I didn’t care if I lived lithem kills you
    As for these families they are happy the kids and members cause no problems they are not there!!!!!

    • mithrandale said

      Tammy, I doubt your suit will go anywhere because that is a known possible reaction. Lithium is a mood stabilizer but just where it stabilizes any given person is not predictable and won’t even be the same for different times on the drug. I was one it at one point and stabilized at moderately happy, but another time I stabilized at more-than-moderately miserable. I’ve known people who stabilized at content, which seems to be most common — but you can’t demand that a given drug work for you exactly as it worked for others.

      Reduced memory function and loss of concentration are listed right there in the side effects, and these days you almost have to sign that you’ve been told about the side effects in order to receive what you’ve been prescribed, so they’ll just point to those two side effects and say that you knew of the possibility. They will also insist you demonstrate that you were drinking sixty to a hundred ounces of water every day plus other recommendations for those on the drug. In short, you haven’t got a case against the drug company at all.

      With the doctor it may be a different matter, depending on how long you were on it, whether you were sent for regular blood tests, etc. Unless you were on it for at least six months, the doctor’s defense is simple: that your reaction to it had not stabilized.

      Lithium has saved many thousands of lives. That it hit you this way is unfortunate, but if your doctor was at all competent then you were warned of the possibility. The crazy thing is that you could go off it for six months, then try again and find that the second time it makes you almost compulsively happy — there’s no way to know.

    • buzzsmom86 said

      Please realize like any drug . Lithiumbwprks differently on everyone. You didn’t say of you had no-polar I.9 Through the years Lithium has been determined to be most effective and unfortunately there is no substitute. I was diagnosed Bi-polar I 26 years ago. And probably had it for the previous 12 years. For me it has been a God send and other than 1 week of hospitalization following an extended manic episode it’s been spot on. My problem now is it’s. starting to affect my kidneys and I have stage 3B chronic kidney disease aand my creatinine is 1.6 and rising. Tried everything on the market st least twice to no avail or I get very sick and lethargic and can’t work. Will keep trying and won’t give up. Don’t you give up either. You need someone that specializes in bi-polar & is up to date with pharmaceuticals. Good luck.

  215. Thomas said

    I have been one lithium for about 30 years now. In the last year I have cleaned up my diet. I feel more myself then I have years. I’m Going to talk to my dr about lowering or getting off.

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