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Why take medication at all? I'm NEW, help!

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OK, I am starting week 2 of Lamictal of the starter kit.  Last weekend, an old friend cautioned me against taking it, saying that the people in this country are brainwashed by the medical industry and psychiatrists out to make a buck and I should just pursue talk therapy.  He feels also it could be hard to go off it, and it is only a temporary mask of the problems. 

What do you guys say?

I saw two psychiatrists, both of whom thought I was bipolar (not sure which bipolar, I, II, whatever) and possibly ADHD. but I only saw each psych one time.  The second one persuaded me to try the starter kit, since he didn't think taking Adderall for ADHD was a good idea, since I am primarily manic and not as depressed (although I have occasional moments of anxiety and some depression, which I have cured in the past with a few gin and tonics at night).

Of course, you are all totally pro-medication, it seems.  Or am I wrong about that?  Will you all take medication forever?

My main goal is to be more stable and to finish a book I am working on, which I have been procrastinating about.  I also am in the hole financially due to careless spending and lack of budgeting (and not making enough money at my non-profit job).

The guy I've been seeing for the last year was upset a few times because he said I suddenly changed and almost blacked out when I was drunk and became over-emotional.  So, since I care about him and want to finish my book and get my act together, I am trying the medication. 

Any thoughts on all this?  I don't know too much of the buzz words (titrating, PDoc, etc.) and am new at all this.  I am usually anti-medication except when absolutely necessary.


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Like anything else, there's a range here: people who will and will not take medication over the long term, who take more or take less medication, have 'more' or 'less' severe issues, and meds that are 'more' or 'less' easy to stop. In addition, you'll find a wide range of side effects, even from the same med.

There are many things that can be addressed by talk therapy, by no means all of them. Mania is not particularly well addressed that way, there are biological issues that can be treated best with medication. I know that I would not have finished my dissertation without medication, and even then I had large spaces where I couldn't work at all.

If you decide at some point in the future, near or later, that you don't like the way you feel on Lamictal then you can stop taking it. No big deal. If you still need medical help, there are lots of other possibilities.

As for your basic question: I take medication for my severe depression because when I don't, I am so depressed and so deeply suicidal that it makes my partner and friends nervous if it takes me too long to use the bathroom.


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We're not all pro-medication. I'm just about the least med compliant person you'll ever find. :)

The question isn't whether we think you need it, but if you think you do.

Generally, the question that's asked when they're trying to decide if they should give you some kind of medicine is 'Is it interfering with normal functioning.'

In your case it seems to be...So if I were you I'd prolly take it

Having said that, I've never taken Lamictal before, so I don't really know what the risk/benefit potential is.

Someone else can help you with that one though.

Apologies if this seems a bit rambly, but like I said, I'm non compliant.  ;)

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well, as you've seen two psychiatrists (often abbreviated here to 'pdoc') and both have come up with a similar diagnosis, it's fair to assume there's *something* which needs addressing. you yourself have found that something in your life isn't quite right, and have felt this strongly enough to pursue medical intervention.

is medication right for you, or necessary? two doctors seem to think so. certainly doctors aren't infallible, but you have two separate, concurring opinions there. if you are in fact bipolar - and that's the consensus you have - talk therapy alone won't fix it. sure, it can be a helpful adjunct, but for bipolar, medication's key. it's not 'a temporary mask of the problems'. it works to change and ultimately repair your brain. being bipolar doesn't mean you're coping badly with life or lacking in willpower - though being bipolar can lead to some pretty bad choices. being bipolar means your brain doesn't work right, and the chemicals fix that. you might find that lamictal isn't the right med for you, but something else might be. give it a try and see what happens.

is medication a forever sort of thing? depends. medications can do something talk therapy alone can't do - physically alter your brain. if you get your internal wiring fixed, you might find that you can stop meds at some future point in time. that's something for you and your pdoc to decide together, though. particularly with bipolar, there's a strong tendency to feel magically cured and to toss out the meds entirely, and that's often the illness talking. we're not all pro-medication, certainly, but many of us here have found that life with the right meds is much, much better than life without meds. will that be true for you? only time will tell. but if you do have bipolar, medication is nearly always necessary. at least for a while. and it tends to be much better than the alternative.

good luck!

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Glad you're here!

I'm sure I can't answer all your concerns, but I'll give it a go with a couple. From what I know, I don't believe Lamictal is a particularly difficult med to discontinue. Of course, as with all these meds, you'd want to get off of it gradually. But, no...unlike some other crazy meds (like Effexor), I don't believe it has a reputation as a hard med to go off.

I'm not pro-medication, except when it's appropriate, when it makes sense. There are health issues I deal with that I can handle without meds, others I can't. My thyroid doesn't function, so I take thyroid meds. For me, Lamictal makes sense as well; it has helped me get control over the radical depression/hypomania mood swings, which were creating a great deal of chaos in my life.

But, again, as people posted earlier you've got to weigh the risks/benefits for you. Keep posting and keep asking questions.



PS - Couple places to help you make sense of all the goofy terms we tend to use here:

The Abbreviations & Acronyms List


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Yes, the comments are helpful.  One issue, though, I guess is that I am not totally convinced I am bipolar, although both Pdocs thought so and when I examine the symptoms, it seems very possible.  But I am 51 and it is just diagnosed now, after years of therapy -- does that seem possible?  And not diagnosed by any of the therapists, who ranged from Pdocs to psychologists to CSW's. 

I started to think that something was going on, though, last year.  After splitting up with my last live-in bf three years ago, I noticed a change in my personality where I became very manic, full of energy, hypersexed (and very active), didn't need to sleep as much, feeling very exuberant, tendency to drink a lot, and so forth.  The six years I was with him, I was much more sedate -- I wouldn't say depressed, but fatter, non-sexual, less manic.  But I have probably had manic phases over the years, but they seem to quiet down when I live with someone.  As for depression, not so much, although I tried to commit suicide once after a rape.  I've always tended to over-drink and to tend toward somewhat violent irritable behavior, though, and I tend to be a very creative person (writer) and I have had a succession of failed relationships (but who hasn't in this world?). 

So, would two sessions with Pdocs establish clearly my being bipolar or are there other ways to determine this with some certainty?  I also felt that trying the medication and noting whether things improved might be another way to ascertain whether I am bipolar or not.

And if I am also ADHD, would adding Adderall or something else help?  Both Pdocs seemed to think my manic phases needed to stabilize more, or I would be overstimulated.

Thanks for listening!

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So, would two sessions with Pdocs establish clearly my being bipolar or are there other ways to determine this with some certainty?  I also felt that trying the medication and noting whether things improved might be another way to ascertain whether I am bipolar or not.


There is no physical tests that can determine whether you are bipolar or not, so you have to rely on the dx skills of your pdoc.  Some cases are rather obvious, some aren't.  Your's sounds like one of the not obvious.  That said, I am a believer in the philosophy that the dx is not as important as treating the symptoms.  If you take meds and your symptoms improve, then it doesn't matter if your dx is bipolar or not.

And if I am also ADHD, would adding Adderall or something else help?  Both Pdocs seemed to think my manic phases needed to stabilize more, or I would be overstimulated.


Generally speaking, if you are bipolar, you want to stabilize your moods first, then work on other problems.  A lot of the meds that treat problems like ADHD don't get along so well with unmedicated BP.

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Heya chickie,

Nice to meet you.

CrazyBoards has helped me *almost as much as my Lamictal* since I got diagnosed.

And in this post I will try to define any short-forms I use without thinking.  I sympathize.  Took me a good long while to figure out all the short forms used around here.  Then, I started making up my own.  ;)

As my tagline says I am here as a wacko, not as a doctor, although if there's a medical question I think I can address, sometimes I will.

In terms of bipolar, I'm new too, as a patient anyway.

I've probably been bipolar of some kind since age 10 or 11, but who knows?

Took me til I was 32 to get dx'd.  As bipolar of some kind.  (NOS, Not Otherwise Specified.)

Average for BP II is something like 12 years, but considering noone knew much about it until a few years ago, frequently longer than that.

Unscientifically, I wonder if it takes longer in us girls because we're *expected* to be moody, weepy, blabla.

Interestingly, I was dx'd (diagnosed) by my family doc, then a psychiatrist who *specializes* in BP diagnosis, then the psych *he* sent me to for tx (treatment).

Therapist (who I started seeing around the same time) never bought it.  But then, she *also* couldn't have answered an exam question on "what is bipolar" either.

All this as background, sorry, to this:

I love my Lamictal.

I hate my bipolar.

I functioned without meds.  But holy crap if someone had rx'd (prescribed) this medication *earlier,* my life would be *so much* better.

I *will not* go off meds; change, add, subtract, increase, decrease, ... but NOT go off.  I have notes everywhere telling me why, for those times when I think of trying it.

Including the fact that it's *fixing* my brain and *preventing* further damage.  There's been enough damage already, IMHO (in my humble opinion).

I will also *not* stop doing my anger-management and CBT (cognitive-behavioural therapy).

There's even some evidence that therapy can have some physical effects on the brain, too, although not as quickly.

Meds also help facilitate therapy.  I tried doing CBT for *years* but couldn't concentrate because of the bloody depression and mixed episodes.

For you, me, and all of us, it's all about whether the tx ***helps,*** i.e., makes us ***better.***

And less about boxes in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the Big Book of Psychiatric Words that provides a bunch of very specific definitions of various problems).  Here on CB (CrazyBoards) I'm learning that I'm *far from* the only one who doesn't fit a specific definition.  It doesn't matter.  That's hard for me to wrap my head around, but my psychiatrists have both agreed.

Lamictal helps me.  Holy crap does it help.  So does the CBT I'm doing.  And, I hope, so will the therapist I'll see in March.

(The last therapist made things *worse,* and I and my marriage are still feeling it.  Long story.)

Sounds like at this point, meds plus/minus therapy are helping.  You have to do what's right *for you,* and this can be really, really hard.

And yeah, Lamictal is pretty easy to get off of, unless you have a family hx (history) of seizures, in which case you would go off s-l-o-w-l-y.

Rambling a bit here.  I'm keyed up over leaving town for work tomorrow. 

But YES, if the meds are helping, take them, at least for now.

You *might* end up adding in something for the ADHD once the moods are stable.

Therapy (with the right therapist) will likely help.

Mood tracking seems useful.  There are links for that around here somewhere.

There's a book called "The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide" which a lot of us seem to be happy with.

Also, as a creative type, you might like Kaye Redfield Jamison's book, "An Unquiet Mind."  She's a psychologist and also bipolar.

And, again, nice to meet you and welcome!!


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So, would two sessions with Pdocs establish clearly my being bipolar or are there other ways to determine this with some certainty?  I also felt that trying the medication and noting whether things improved might be another way to ascertain whether I am bipolar or not.


Diagnosis is not always as clear as we want it to be. What really matters is the result, as you suggest here, is whether or not medication/therapy/whatever improves your quality of life. Remember, that some few people don't fully respond to the first medication, so if Lamictal doesn't do it, there's alternatives.

I can also suggest the pinned topic on the Misc. Side Effects forum "what sucks less?"


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I always thought that I was anti medication and resisted medication despite having seven years of severe clinical depression. It did me no good whatsoever, sure I had a 'clean' body but I put myself through hell and now I have psychosis and a personality disorder! I think what matters is what works, in some situations I have sought alternative therapies, spiritual therapy, neuroleptic meds, therapy, and they have worked to varying degrees.

I wouldn't recommend meds to everyone, as I'm not a qualified pdoc and many people can manage without. I will come off the meds when I am able to, I don't believe that swallowing a pill will cure my problems and I want to live unmedicated, but until I learn how to do that I am willing to take medication. Taking meds has been positive, spurring me into not drinking anymore and exercising and eating more carefully, my body is in better shape now!

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  • 2 weeks later...

One of the reasons I stopped seeing my MSW "talk" therapist after two years was she said I'd have to hurry up in the bathroom from now on, since the other patient was waiting downstairs.  And by the way, if anything, I had always used the restroom for a quick pee and nothing else, but of course, prior to getting on the subway, it is often a good idea to take care of business, if you know what I mean.  I told the therapist that I was not gonna "hurry up" in the bathroom, and her request was unreasonable and that perhaps it was a good idea if I stopped seeing her.  Either she should get a better waiting area system (she sees patients in her apartment) or she should space out the appointments with a few more minutes.

And then I told her that our philosophies differed too much and that was that. 

It's not to say I won't see another talk therapist, but I will find someone who is not so petty and unprofessional and I think a lot of them are!

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Last weekend, an old friend cautioned me against taking it, saying that the people in this country are brainwashed by the medical industry and psychiatrists out to make a buck and I should just pursue talk therapy.
Wouldn't it be nice if talk therapy worked by itself?  Sigh.  I was in therapy for around 2 years before I finally caved in to a diagnosis of depression, which turned out to be mild mixed states that blossomed into mixed mania when I went on anti-depressants.  Which led me to a mood stabilizer, which improved my life beyond my wildest expectations in spite of significant side effects.  And now that I'm stable I have seen incredible and steady growth through therapy.  Before medications I could only use therapy to survive from one week to the next.  Now I'm actually learning to live my life.

Anyhow I agree with others that your friend isn't qualified to tell you what to do becausehe has no idea what is going on inside your head.  He doesn't know the pain you're in, the lengths you've had to go to in order to cope, and the wreckage you've left behind.

Few of us love taking pills every day, most of us for the rest of our lives.  Some of us fight our medications, playing games with them or using them like drugs instead of medicine.  I hate them unreservedly.  But I love being well--not full of anxiety or rage, not depressed for months at a time and then hypomanic and then crashing again.  I too was diagnosed late, at 41, after around 30 years of high-functioning but pretty crazed mental illness.  Now my head is clear, I can enjoy my life without all the drama my BP created, my relationships are better, and I'm beginning to be able to tell what it is I want out of life instead of being driven by unseen forces.  No more uncontrollable sexuality, no more heavy drinking or drug use, no more switching jobs every 2-3 years (if not more frequently).  So as much as I hate needing it, you'd have to pry my lamictal from my cold dead fingers to get it away from me.

Do stay in touch.  Check out the bipolar board.  Read up.  The more you know, the more you can help yourself get better.  In my opinion medication is rarely enough on its own.  Certain kinds of therapy are better than others.  Cognitive therapy is one of the best for bipolar disorder.  Best of luck!

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Hello and welcome to CB.

If you were feeling like crap and you went to 2 doctors who both said you have diabetes would you not take insulin cause your "friend" told you it was a hard drug to get off?

I look at my drugs like that. If I am following what the doc told me to do I'm doing the best I can for myself. the doc went to school a long time, longer than most of my friends.


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Hi Mickey!

And if the originator of this thread takes lamictal and does improve it still doesn't mean bp...

there's a lot of fluff in the world that people trust or filter thru their minds in a way that isn't all that helpful sometimes I think. And I am not referring to anyone here; just what is helpful?

what is a label?

it sure upsets people to be told they are axis II or bp or psychopathic or whatnot.

or alcoholic.

labels. people. not the same.

I guess insurance co.s like labels.

docs need to know stuff too, but to me unless someone has a really good history of their stuff, like mood logs, or other obvious sx....hard to dx bp, axis II in one session. My opinion only, and like bellybuttons, everyone has one! Opinion, that is.

Happy Monday!


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