Any alternatives to lithium?

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Ginny
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Date Joined Feb 2003
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   Posted 10/8/2005 10:49 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm wondering if there are any alternatives to lithium?  My dad has manic-depression and has been on lithium for 12 years now. His doctor is concerned that it will eventually hurt his kidneys. He's on the maximum daily dose of the stuff.
 
Anything out there that you guys know of? Any side effects of the drugs?
 
Thanks for your help!
 
Ginny


"Thank you God for the storms that blow me right into your arms!"

Diagnosed with lupus in 2000. Fibromyalgia, anti-phospholipid syndrome(stroke),Sjogren's, seizure disorder, libman sach's endocarditis, vasculitis, sacroiliitis, food allergies
Prednisone, Imuran, Coumidin, Clobazam, Amitriptyline, Paxil, micronor, didrocal, monopril, calcium, multi-vitamin, vitamin D, Acidophilus


psychnurse
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Date Joined Mar 2005
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   Posted 10/9/2005 5:25 AM (GMT -6)   

Hi, Ginny,

Thankfully, BP has come a long way from the 50s when lithium was the only med to take.    Your father's doc is right; lithium cannot be used long term, it can damage the kidneys, thyroid and cause changes in the heart. 

Today there are tons of choices, mood stabilizers: Lamictal (good antidepressant effect, too), Topamax, Trileptal, depakote

Antipsychotics (almost always used with a stabilzer for optimum effectiveness): Risperdal, Seroquel, Abilify.

Abilify is the newest generation antipsychotic that is being used (with caution) as monotherapy (meaning without another mood stabilizer) that seems to be very good, I am taking it but with 2 other mood stabilizers.

Is he seeing a psychiatrist?   I am wondering because if the doc is concerned about the damage from lithium, he should know of these alternatives.   If your dad isn't seeing a pdoc, he should be.  If he is and the guy isn't up to par, he may want to think about changing.

I hope this helps! :-) Shannon


Variety is the spice of life, BP is the key


Ginny
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Total Posts : 5511
   Posted 10/9/2005 4:52 PM (GMT -6)   
Thank you Shannon!
That helps a lot. The only doctor he is seeing is a walk-in clinic doc..... Yeah, I know.  But you can't force him to see someone else right! He is doing tremendously well on the lithium. His manic episodes are non-existant and his depression is almost not there either.  One reason why he's so discouraged about changing over is that he's doing so well.
 
The walk-in doctor he saw last week was a new doctor, very young and 'with it". I'm hoping my dad will continue to go and see him instead of the other doctor he's been seeing these past 12 years.
 
Thank you for the med list, I'll do some researching on them!
 
Ginny
"Thank you God for the storms that blow me right into your arms!"

Diagnosed with lupus in 2000. Fibromyalgia, anti-phospholipid syndrome(stroke),Sjogren's, seizure disorder, libman sach's endocarditis, vasculitis, sacroiliitis, food allergies
Prednisone, Imuran, Coumidin, Clobazam, Amitriptyline, Paxil, micronor, didrocal, monopril, calcium, multi-vitamin, vitamin D, Acidophilus


psychnurse
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Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 807
   Posted 10/9/2005 6:07 PM (GMT -6)   
You're welcome!  A lot of times the younger guys are more well informed about the latest treatments and since he seems to be interested in helping your father, definitely have him stay!  Better than no doc!
 
I wish your father well, he will be ok, there are lots of choices out there.
 
Shannon :-)
Variety is the spice of life, BP is the key


soulsistaz7
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Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 10/18/2005 5:16 AM (GMT -6)   
hi i have been on lithium for 5 years and it worked very well for me i am now halway thru the process of changing from lithium to lamictal and have suffered no changes in mood whatso ever in fact my mood has been lifted more slightly in the fact that i dont need a cat nap every day i can go through the whole day without a sleep

psychnurse
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Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 807
   Posted 10/18/2005 5:19 AM (GMT -6)   

Hi, soulsistaz

You need to read the thread on Lamictal I think the 3rd one down currently, there is a comment by an MD and myself.  I'm so glad it's working for you!!!!!  Yay!  IMO lithium is the absolute best for mood stablization; hard on the body and bad side effects for most.



Variety is the spice of life, BP is the key


sosick
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Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 7/14/2009 1:09 PM (GMT -6)   
I have had manic depression over 30 yrs. I did lithium for 10-15yrs. I was changed to Tegretol and love it. Much better on my mind and body. No nasty taste in my mouth. It is a seizure medication. Some see it as small seizures that are not noticable. Whatever. I will never change drugs. For the depression I am still looking for the right one. Wellbutrin with Zoloff is good but doesn't seem to protect you when you crash hard. Cymbalta is good but expensive if you don't have the best insurance. If you do, it is very good. I don't so I'm still looking. I have done alot of studying on the subject and have a medical background. I'll try to help if I can.

serafena
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Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 3715
   Posted 7/14/2009 9:04 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi sosick,

Welcome to HealingWell and to the bipolar board. I'm so glad to hear that tegretol has worked so well for you for so long. Are you seeing a psychiatrist right now? Are you working on finding an antidepressant that works better. If you're feeling very depressed, you definitely need to let your doc know.

Glad you're here. Let's talk more.
serafena
Serafena
Co-Moderator, Bipolar Forum
Bipolar II


OnTheFringe
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2012
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 2/1/2012 6:16 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm looking for some suggestions for alternatives to lithium. My boyfriend is bipolar and has been on lithium for about a year. He says that he doesn't feel really happy or really sad- just kind of blah. I know this is common for lithium, but he just isn't himself. He also takes Effexor and something for an under active thyroid. I am fairly knowledgable through reading and family experience, but I have no real insight b/c I don't know what it's like to be bipolar. He is reluctant to switch meds b/c he doesn't want to go through that few week/ month adjustment period, but I feel like it's worth it if he can modify his meds to benefit him for the long term. Any suggestions for him, or for me as an outsider who cares about someone who is bipolar? Obviously seeing a doctor is necessary, but I need something to propel him to do it. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

tortoise11
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Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 2896
   Posted 2/1/2012 7:04 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi fringe,

Lack of emotion is not a listed side effect of lithium and I have not heard of it anecdotally before. I would look first to the other medications he is on and possible drug interactions. drugs.com is safe and trustworthy.

If you're looiking for additional support, please start a new thread and introduce yourself. We have quite a few members who are family/friends/partners of people with bipolar disorder. Introduce yourself to gain support.

Thank you and best wishes!
Bipolar Disorder Forum Moderator

Bipolar 1, Borderline Personality Disorder, Panic Disorder, PCOS (hormone disorder).

Lamictal 200 mg, Seroquel 400 mg, Lithium 1,200 mg, Klonopin 1.5 mg as needed.

Gabriel 1775
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 2/11/2013 1:31 PM (GMT -6)   
Hey there,

My girlfriend/soon to be fiance was diagnosed with manic bi-polar disorder about 3 years ago, and was stabilized with relatively low doses of cymbalta and lithium. She hasn't had a manic attack since, until recently when she tried to reduce her reliance upon medication manually by not taking the cymbalta. A few days later, she began to have symptoms of mania, but didnt want to make a scene of it so she really didnt communicate it with me, she just tried to deal with it herself (totally another issue- just building the picture...) She was readmitted after she went into a heavy manic state for a total of about 3 days of being awake and manic while I was away on business. Now they have verified that maybe cymbalta wasn't required any longer, and modified her lithium intake to one larger dose at night.

My concerns are numerous- but the major questions I would like feedback on are these:
- Where can I find a list of similar medications that accomplish the same thing as lithium with fewer harmful side effects over the long term?
- I have heard that lithium cannot be taken during pregnancy/breastfeeding; if you want to have children, how is that managed?
- She is very concerned with weight gain, and I am concerned with hypo-thyroid implications, is there a better alternative to lithium that we can inquire about?
- While the diagnosis is a lifetime one, and she is enrolled in a reliable mental health program to help maintain her stability, is there any known endstates (other than eventual death) such as common suicide or common recovery that should be expected? There is a huge stigma around this and I would like more factual information than "word on the street".

I really appreciate any feedback that may be available- Im trying to figure out where to go from here, now that I am aware that this exists and is a real concern for the person who I love.

Chloe43
Regular Member


Date Joined Nov 2012
Total Posts : 327
   Posted 2/12/2013 3:42 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Gabriel,

Mood stabilizers (with the exception of lithium) work on either elevated or depressed mood but not both. This is why the vast majority of people with bipolar disorder are on multiple medications.

Pysch meds during pregnancy and breastfeeding are a very big topic. You should talk to a psychiatrist, OB/GYN and lactation constultant. There are some meds that are considered "safer" during certain times of pregnancy, but they may or may not be the meds that control symptoms. Also medication needs close management during the time of birth. Form what I understand, meds need to be reduced before delivery so labor may be induced.

There are many alternatives to lithium. Some cause weight gain in some people, some do not. She will have to try them and see how she is affected.

There is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease among patients with bipolar disorder.

caesar1956
New Member


Date Joined Jan 2013
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 2/13/2013 6:41 AM (GMT -6)   
hello ginny
try redox, its non toxic and its not a medication,, and can help your dad with his pains,,

Chloe43
Regular Member


Date Joined Nov 2012
Total Posts : 327
   Posted 2/13/2013 2:23 PM (GMT -6)   
Ginny's post is 7 years old. Please don't expect a response from her. :)

Carlos 1970
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 11/11/2013 2:17 PM (GMT -6)   
My wife's Dr. has suggested Lamictal as a substitute for Lithium. He said that for certain patients, it is excellent. The doctor will start you out with a very low dose of Lamictal then gradually increase it over time.

Also, if anyone with Bi-Polar disorder is thinking of having children there is a genetic predisposition for those children to have Bi-Polar. Hopefully, this message is being communicated by psychiatrists and the experts in the medical field. Nobody has a right to discourage another person or influence them negatively in their decision to have children. I am simply saying that there should be full disclosure by the medical experts. Disclosure about the genetic link. After disclosure, the patient can research and decide for themselves.

My wife was diagnosed with Bi-Polar a few years after our daughter was born. Our daughter was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder at age 13 and she is now 16. Nothing has been more rewarding and also more challenging than raising our daughter. She is an incredibly beautiful, compassionate and loving young lady. I wouldn't change anything, but I can also say that it has been very painful for my wife and I to see our daughter suffer with the disorder. The past several weeks have been extremely sad. Every day I cry. We had to send our daughter to a special school, out-of-state. We are doing everything we can to help her. We are hopeful through therapy, medication and a special school that she will get better.
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