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Are these meds for temporary use only?


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How many people out there have had their doctor try and ween you off of the meds?  My pdoc is starting to act as if these are only for temporary use.  Yet I'm deathly afraid of stopping them because they make me feel better, dare I say, normal.  (I had to plead for my ativans!)  I'm only on lamictal, abilify, and zyprexa, and she's acting as if I'm medicated too much.  But I feel fine.  What does your doctor tell you about the long term implications, if any?

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The trick is to find the lowest possible dosage with the biggest benefit.

(It cost you less money this way, and it reduces the possibility of bad side effects.)

That being said, I am an "IF IT AINT BROKE DON'T FIX IT!" kind of gal.

Anyway, a good long discussion with your doc is in order. See what her philosphy on the whole thing is. Maybe she links mono-therapy with lamictal would work. (My hubby is a lifer for the lamictal, but only uses zyprexa and seroquel PRN.) Once you talk to her and express your concern about rocking the stability boat, you can decide what is best.

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A lot of these supposed lifer meds used for bipolar are only approved for short-term use.  Surprising, huh? 

Some people, including, perhaps, your doctor, see medication as a crutch.  A crutch isn't a bad thing as long as you need it, but if you continue using it after your broken ankle has healed, your ankle will deteriorate in condition and strength from disuse until you really do have to use crutches forever.  Sometimes we do need to be on a particular med for life.  Other times, that med really is only there to give some aspect of your physical brain a break until you can handle a given situation (and normal life is filled with one "situation" after another) without that chemical prop. 

Though we talk a lot about the physical/chemical manifestations of mental illness on these boards, there's more to it than that.  Researchers are poking around trying to make sense of a terribly complex issue.  Honestly, we don't know why these meds work or don't work, even if we are aware of their chemical mode of action.  Until there is some proven solid answer, I'll have to say maybe you could do better long-term without some of the meds you're on, or maybe you really should stay with them just as they are.  I don't know.  But there's a possibility that meds aren't as indispensable to your health as you think. 

Whatever it sounds like I'm saying, definitely talk with your doctor before, during, and after any changes.  Be sure that any med reductions are done carefully and monitored closely.  Temporary adverse effects must be sorted from significant danger signals.  Tapers must be done slowly.  Just dropping your meds all at once is fucking stupid (not that you or your pdoc were about to do so, but who knows who else is reading?).  Be careful.  But also try to remain open to the possibility that maybe fewer meds would be better for you in the long run. 

If you're uncomfortable, seek a second opinion if you can.  Don't let anyone shove you into a situation which could compromise your health against your will.  But do listen to your doctor when you ask "why." 

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Yeah, what Wifezilla said.

I think if you're BP then you will need at least one med to stay on for life. But it's pretty hard to find that one perfect med, so usually you need more.

I take four meds now, which my pdoc thinks is too much. But she's not willing to change anything yet, since I finally feel normal. Whatever that is.

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  • 2 months later...

Hey, my answer is "I don't know" but I have and opinion. You say "dare I say 'normal," I say stay on those meds, even if it means dumping your doc! If your disease is temporary, then your meds can be temporary. Your doc should be thinking about the long term implications of your disease in my opinion. My doc has discussed disease progression and neurodegeneration. There aren't as many as there ought to be but some docs actually LISTEN to patients. Feeling "fine" is a holy grail for us; if your doc tries to cut you off from that then it's time to cut them loose!

How many people out there have had their doctor try and ween you off of the meds?
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I've been given a life sentence, myself, with no chance for parole, although assuming your avatar is yourself I'm a good bit older than you. I'm 47, but was diagnosed with unipolar recurrent depression and dysthymia when I was 40, and told then that I'd need to be on maintenance meds forever.

When I was 42 and went into major depressive episode number four, which was an extended tour of the very bottom of the abyss, I asked why that was happening to me since I had been a good girl and taken all my drugs like I was supposed to. The answer from my pdoc was, "I'm sorry to say that we don't know why that is yet." Lovely, huh?

Then when you read up on how your brain has actual physical differences from people with "normal" brains, you get that guinea pig feeling, or at least I do. But in my case the drugs have worked for the most part, although like everyone else hanging around here the cocktail recipe has had to be tweaked and changed around as my condition goes from full remission to the fucking abyss and back again. I can see the lights from the BP roller coaster off in the distance, but have never ridden it myself. Ferris wheels freak me out........

You've gotten some good replies from others here about talking more with your pdoc and/or finding another one if you think you're not getting what you need. I've had more bad pdocs than good, unfortunately, so understand the hassle involved in finding someone who's good at what they do.

If I were feeling good, I'd be hesitant to change my meds, unless I'd been feeling that way for a really long time and would consider trying to lower the doses. I'd only want to do that with the pdoc's input and a well kept daily mood chart to catch any slips before they get out of hand so you don't end up starting all over again. Good luck with it all.

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Other times, that med really is only there to give some aspect of your physical brain a break until you can handle a given situation (and normal life is filled with one "situation" after another) without that chemical prop.
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