Lithium

I am considering trying Lithium. Thoughts? due to my horrible history of suicidality on psychiatric drugs please let me know if you experienced an increase in suicidal thoughts/behaviours or if you didn’t have any before, but they occurred after you took Lithium. I need to know the worst because it will probably happen to me. I have looked up the side effects but I prefer first hand accounts. Yes, this is off label use as it would be used for mood stabilization not associated with mania or other bipolar experiences.

Thank you 🙂

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23 thoughts on “Lithium

  1. have you ever been tested for CYP450? That may be the reason you do poorly on pharmaceuticals. CAMH is now testing – check it out. The other thing is a gluten-free and sugar-free and dairy-free diet – all responsible for depression and mood swings. .

    • I wanted to be tested but was too afraid to go to CAMH. I should improve my diet in terms of eating more healthy food and exercise does need more of a role in my life. Thank you for your input!

  2. I took it and didn’t like the side effects, I don’t recall that it helped or hurt me, neither increasing nor decreasing my suicidality. Hope someone can give you something more definitive. I hated it! But they do say it helps with Bipolar, which I do not have. Hugs!

  3. I was only on lithium briefly (can’t at the moment remember why I discontinued it, it may just have not been effective for me), but as far as specifically talking about suicidal thoughts or behavior, lithium is actually the only medication that has been studied and conclusively proven to reduce suicide attempts in those taking it. In the U.S., the FDA has approved it specifically for suicide prevention. And yes, everyone is different and there are always exceptions, but I have two close friends who haven taken it for years, and it has quite literally saved their lives.

    It does have its serious side effect profile, and requires regular blood levels, but I know whatever my own side effects were (I could look them up), suicidality was not one of them.

    • I did look at the side effect list and almost cried. Suicidality isn’t on it and that made happy but I know even experiencing hand tremors will cause me serious mental distress. I hate seeing side effects manifest. Thank you so much for sharing Ruby!! xoxo

  4. I’ve been on lithium for a little over 10 years. Combined with an antidepressant (clomipramine) it made a huge impact on what were chronic suicidal thoughts. I have to admit that I am too scared to come off the lithium/clomipramine combo because it has made such a difference.

    The problems I have had with lithium are physically based. You probably know that you have to be really careful with other medications that can interact with the lithium and cause something called lithium toxicity. Most doctors are really careful about what they prescribe but there are some who are not so careful. I struck one of those and ended up toxic. This can land you in hospital. Thankfully I didn’t have to be admitted but the experience was not nice. I now check medication myself as well as getting the pharmacist to check. Can never be too careful and I don’t want to go there again.

    The other issue I’ve had is that lithium can affect thyroid function. About four years ago I ended up with hyperthyroidism and something called Lithium-induced Graves’ Disease (it’s an auto-immune disease). Thankfully it is now in remission but if it comes back I will likely need radioactive iodine treatment. Not so keen n this but probably won’t have much choice. Of course I have this now and coming off lithium would have little impact, so I’ve decided to stay on it.

    Basically what people don’t advertise is the effect that lithium has on physical health. There are more possible issues than I have just mentioned. What you need is to know your doctor will keep an eye on everything. Like I said, I do much of this myself now. Asking for blood tests, etc. Lithium basically saved my life in terms of my mental well being, but unfortunately it has been at the cost of my physical health. It’s an impossible one to call, but then some people never have physical issues. If you decide to try lithium I hope you don’t have the issues I’ve had.

    Sorry if this seems negative. I don’t mean it to be. It’s just there are issues some doctors don’t go over. Good luck in the decision making.

    • Thank you so much for sharing! I trust your experience very much! I will keep in mind the importance of blood tests and check ups if I decide to use lithium. I don’t think you seem negative. This stuff happened to you and I want to know these things because I have have negative things happen to me as well. I prefer to know what I’m getting myself into so I know what to watch out for. It’s responsible to acknowledge that these drugs are not perfect 🙂

  5. In 2011 I went into a deep depression after the unexpected death of a precious young loved one. My diagnosis is PTSD, not bipolar, but my doctor put me on a low dose of lithium because, she said, it has been found to be helpful in some cases of depression, when used for a short period of time to augment an antidepressant.

    For me, it was a mistake. I don’t remember exactly what it did to me, which I believe is part of the adverse reaction I had to the lithium, because I normally have an almost photographic memory. I do recall my husband saying that I had gotten much worse within a few hours after being put on the lithium, and he urged me to stop taking it. I believe I took the lithium for about one week, and then I stopped. Even after I stopped, I remember that it took me at least a month to feel like “me” again, although I have no idea if that was due to the few days I was on the low dose of lithium, or part of the grief I was going through. However, my husband definitely blamed the lithium, he said it made a huge change in me and that it was not a good change.

    Okay, I just asked my husband what the lithium did to me. He frowned, heaved a heavy sigh, and said “It put you in La-La land. And it made your depression much worse.” I told him the reason I asked was because a blogger’s doctor had advised her to try lithium and she was asking for other’s experience with it. My husband then said, “Tell her H*ll No. And tell her to get another doctor.” LOL.

    Of course, this is anecdotal, one person’s experience only. I am sure that lithium must be very helpful to some people, otherwise why do they keep prescribing it? Also, I have green eyes. I have read that people with green eyes have a high rate of adverse reactions to medications. Apparently, this rare eye colors is caused by a genetic anomaly, and it is theorized that the same genetic anomaly may be responsible for having a high rate of adverse reactions to drugs. My husband has green eyes, too, and he also has a long list of drugs he cannot tolerate. A shot of Valium once put him into a rage, for example, which is known as a “paradoxical effect,” because Valium is supposed to calm a person down. One drug that I was given as a teenager caused most of the skin to peel off my face. Another drug that I was given in preparation for surgery sent me into shock and almost killed me. SO, take my experience with a grain of salt… unless you happen to have green eyes, too. 🙂

    What has helped my depression the most is EXERCISE. Which is very hard to make yourself get up and do when you are depressed, right!?! I go for long fast walks when I feel myself beginning to sink back down emotionally. When the extreme weather we get here makes it impossible to walk, I jump and dance on a mini trampoline while watching tv or listening to upbeat music. If I go more than 2 days without some kind of endorphin-producing exercise, I get depressed. Having a sweet playful young dog to frolic and run with is healing, too. I am a grandmother — with grown grandchildren. I’ve battled the depression demon off and on for decades. I’ve tried just about everything there is to try. For me, exercise, and getting a daily dose of sunshine when possible, have been the most helpful, along with avoiding negativity. Negative people, negative blogs, negative tv shows, news reports (shudder). Plus I take antioxidants every day, I like grape seed extract in particular, and I take fish oil supplements and a high dose of Vitamin D daily, which also seems to help my moods. (My favorite online supplier for these supplements is SwansonVitamins (dot) com.)

    I am not a medical professional though, and I am absolutely not qualified to give anyone medical or psychiatric advice!!!! Take care of YOU in whatever way seems best to YOU, and know that you have my empathy!!!

    • Thank you so much!!! Your story was very helpful!

      I do have green eyes actually 😛 My psychiatrist basically doesn’t know what else to do and doesn’t understand why I’m reacting to most antidepressants and antipsychotics the way I am. He gave other options and doesn’t think I need to be on medication but says it’s an option if I want to take it.

      I am trying to watch out for the negativity in my life. My eating could be better and I could be a hell of a lot less lazy 😛 I stopped taking birth control again which has help improve my moods (I can’t even take birth control without becoming an emotional mess…).

      I do know my doctor and psychiatrist wouldn’t force me to go on anything if I didn’t want to.

  6. Not my sickness but I have two friends who have bipolar and they actually live very, dare I say it, normal lives. Without the lithium they suffer terribly, with it they both hold down responsible jobs and are very active in community work. The struggle usually is in getting the dosage right, but once that is done….they do well. Hope that helps

    • I don’t have bipolar either which sort of makes me nervous as I am assuming it helps with those experiences but this drug is also used for non mental health reasons so I guess it can’t be too bad for everyone…maybe… I’m glad your friends have found the drug to be a positive addiction to their life!

  7. I had a horrible experience on Lithium some kind of adverse reaction that looked like an overdose. They tried it again and I shook so bad I could barely eat. One of the worst for me, but you know everyone’s body is different. As far as suicidality goes, I’m almost always at some level of suicide but I don’t remember any marked difference while on Lithium

  8. gotta tell ya, lithium is the bomb! i went 10 yr on all the other random atypical antipsychotics, antidepressants, anti aniolytics, and only kept getting crazier and crazier…until one hospitalization (after a string of many) i told my doc if i dont get something that really works now, i will not get help the next time, because i can’t stand living like this any more. He said, ‘you need lithium’ and i started that day. i was on it 6 years and was so improved, i never even had one single hospitalization. until last year, when my pdoc decided lithium might be to dangerous for me (i get the rarest of all side effects, lucky me) and i said NO. Dont change it! and she changed it. as soon as i was off, i sunk back down to that despair i’d finally left for so long, and ended up in hospital. when i got out, i got a new doc and said i dont care about anything except being in a mental state where i can live and enjoy life. they put me back on it, and i am doing well again.

    Sorry so long…just wanted you to see that for some people who dont respond to anything else, lithium can really do the trick.

  9. learn about MTHFR also – you may have to adjust your diet a little. If you do a search for CYP450 and CAMH you will find the info. Good luck. And remember – gluten-free and sugar-free and possibly dairy-free – you can do it and the results are often dramatic.

  10. Have you read Robert Whitaker’s book, Mad In America? If I remember right it references some long-term studies about people’s outcome with and without lithium. My memory was that lithium often did long term iatrogenic damage, and was more negative than positive…. I would also recommend to you The Myth of the Chemical Cure by Moncrieff.
    My bias is that I am primarily against long-term medication use, but I think it can be helpful when used judiciously and short-term. This is based on my experience.

    • I have read his book Anatomy of an Epidemic and do have an epub copy of Mad in America. I am against long term medication as well and fully acknowledge I turn to psych drugs when I am desperate, not for myself, but for others. I will check out the other book you have mentioned! Thank you!

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