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I have been taking lithium for almost three years now, and it has helped stabilize my moods. But for the past three months, I haven't been feeling like myself at all. I think there is something wrong with my brain. I used to be talkative and able to have long conversations with people. Now it is difficult to think of things to say and stay focused. My mind wanders constantly, it's even hard to type this because I'm so spaced out. I used to write effortlessly, and now it takes me an hour to write a paragraph. I avoid hanging out with friends because I'm afraid they'll think I'm boring. I feel stupid and slow. I'm starting to have thoughts of suicide, even though I would never really try. I don't know if it has to do with my past drug use, but I've been sober for six months. I hope this isn't permanent because I miss the old me so much.

So what do you think is wrong? Has the lithium stopped working? Could it be brain damage? Or something else?

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Have you tried talking to your pdoc (psychiatrist) about this? Lithium is not the end all, be all of psychiatric medications. Lithium plus illicit substances can cause chemical imbalances in your brain, so even though it's been 6 months, fess up to the doc about your drug use. Your brain will thank you.

We are a support and suggestion site. Diagnoses and opinions as to what has happened to you are handed out by the dudes in the white coats. Go see one of them, and then we can discuss in great detail your new medication(s).

Good luck.

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Hi like that Gremlin said I'd try talking with your pdoc.As for coming,and staying off street drugs and depending how much a person used it can take some time to fully detox.My experience with lithium has been touchy,good at first but my pdoc slowly raised my dose from 600mg to 1500mg daily in the last 3yrs.I began having symptoms of old again like depression,and break through hypo mania.When was the last time you had a level?I hope you can sort it out soon.

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The suicidal thoughts and scrambled brains are symptoms that I get when depression is present. That can happen even on stabilizers. Unfortunately, stabilizers (lithium and the rest) do not stop all mood episodes although they can do pretty well at extending the period between episodes and lessening symptoms when episodes happen.

Definitely talk to your pdoc about what you are experiencing. My personal experience may or may not apply to you, and it is only your pdoc who can help you to do something about it. S/he could take different actions depending on what s/he thinks is up. Possible responses can include therapy or a med adjustment. In any case, there is help out there, but you have to be forthcoming with the person who can provide it.

Sorry you are feeling this way. It sucks to have life go off kilter.

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Thyroid, Thyroid, Thyroid!

Lithium use can damage your thyroid and make you Hypothyroid.. strong inability to think, weight gain, and depression being the main symptoms.

Go get a TSH test ASAP to determine if this is your problem before changing your meds.

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Thyroid, Thyroid, Thyroid!

Lithium use can damage your thyroid and make you Hypothyroid.. strong inability to think, weight gain, and depression being the main symptoms.

Go get a TSH test ASAP to determine if this is your problem before changing your meds.

Really good point. When was the last time you had lab work and did it include thyroid function?

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Thanks for letting me know about hypothyroid, it seems like that's whats going on. I'm going to get a test done next week to see. I got my blood work done in September of last year and my thyroid was fine, but maybe it's gotton worse. It's upsetting to me that lithium could be hurting me more than helping.

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Even if lithium is causing your thyroid to go wonky, don't jump to the conclusion that it's doing more harm than good. Hypothyroid is easily treated. Bipolar disorder, not so much.

She's right. Even with hypothyroid you have the option of staying on the Lithium (thou every pdoc will have their own opinion on that). It will keep hurting your thyroid, so your Thyroid medication dose would keep going up, and eventually the Thyroid could become completely non-functional altogether. However, the Thyroid doesn't get better either - so stopping the Lithium won't fix it. You'd be on a Thyroid supplement for the rest of your life either way.. the dose would just be different. So, if you are in fact Hypothyroid, I'd suggest taking both medicines for a month (that's the general amount of time for the Thyroid med to take full effect) & see if you become stable again. If so, I would seriously consider staying on the Lithium rather than looking for something else. You don't want to change something that's effective if you don't have to.

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I will keep taking lithium, but if things don't get better for me soon I feel like I'm going to have an emotional breakdown or I might do something harmful to myself. I'm in college and things were going well for me at first but now I can't even write essays because my mind goes blank and I can't remember anything I study for. If I fail any class I will be extremely hard on myself.

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I will keep taking lithium, but if things don't get better for me soon I feel like I'm going to have an emotional breakdown or I might do something harmful to myself. I'm in college and things were going well for me at first but now I can't even write essays because my mind goes blank and I can't remember anything I study for. If I fail any class I will be extremely hard on myself.

I'm the same way. A part of me knows it's not my fault, but I still feel like I'm a failure and should have done better. That's how it was when I had to drop work and school.. no excuse seemed like enough. However, MI/Brain Fog/Hypothyroidism are real major issues that can't just be solved by willpower and determination. It's like you have a brick wall in front of you that nobody else in the class has, of course your performance can suffer. In this case, your grade isn't a real estimation of your ability. Try to remember that.

Oh, and if your test comes back showing that you're hypo, you don't have to wait for the Thyroid med to kick in to get your mental functioning back. (The sooner the better for school, right?) It just so happened that I was placed on Metadate (which is a form of Ritalin) to augment my MI meds at the same time I was Hypo and couldn't think - it really cut through the fog ALOT - even thou the issue wasn't ADD. So using something like that short-term is a possibility that you could discuss with your pdoc too.

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Thyroid, Thyroid, Thyroid!

Lithium use can damage your thyroid and make you Hypothyroid.. strong inability to think, weight gain, and depression being the main symptoms.

Go get a TSH test ASAP to determine if this is your problem before changing your meds.

I strongly second this response.

Of course, depression is also a possibility, but most of your symptoms sound very much like thyroid as the primary issue appears to be an inability to think/perform as opposed to more specific signs of depression.

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well I got a bunch of tests done, and everything came up normal including thyroid. A few of you said that my symptoms are signs of depression, but I've had severe depression for 5 years and it has never affected my school work. So, I am very frusterated that this is happening to me and I don't know how to fix it. I'm going to my pdoc next thursday to see if I can try different meds..I don't know what else to do.

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well I got a bunch of tests done, and everything came up normal including thyroid. A few of you said that my symptoms are signs of depression, but I've had severe depression for 5 years and it has never affected my school work. So, I am very frusterated that this is happening to me and I don't know how to fix it. I'm going to my pdoc next thursday to see if I can try different meds..I don't know what else to do.

your symptoms do suggest depression and even if it hasn't impacted school work before, symptoms can hit in different ways and to different degrees. what may have been a mild symptom (even amidst a severe depression) in one time, can come back differently the next. they have different variations, so to speak.

i'm glad you're seeing a pdoc for advice. it might be worth a neuropsych consult if that's an option w/ your insurance and if the symptoms persist despite any changes you try (or even now).

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So what do you think is wrong? Has the lithium stopped working? Could it be brain damage? Or something else?

well I got a bunch of tests done, and everything came up normal including thyroid. A few of you said that my symptoms are signs of depression, but I've had severe depression for 5 years and it has never affected my school work. So, I am very frusterated that this is happening to me and I don't know how to fix it. I'm going to my pdoc next thursday to see if I can try different meds..I don't know what else to do.

I'm sorry that wasn't it. It fit really well, but sometimes the answers are hard to find. ;)

As for your original question now that that's out of the way.. yes, the Lithium could have stopped working, that's happened to me before - it's probably not brain damage, depression can cause brain-fog as well. I agree with danceintherain about the depression. I know my depression affected my school work alot.. so each person or instance can be different. I'm glad you're seeing the pdoc. I hope you find new meds that help soon.

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