Newly diagnosed, Bipolar. New to this, or any, forum.

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New Member

Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 9/14/2010 3:14 PM (GMT -7)   
I was diagnosed several months ago Bipolar II, and anxiety. My doc prescribed Lamictal, and I was already taking Prozac that my OB gave me because I thought what I had was PMDD. I have used alcohol and different prescription drugs to try and self medicate for most of my life. Having a few drinks was the only thing that ever made me feel better, relaxed, happy. Alcohol for me has always been kind of a slippery slope, because once I started drinking, I usually would not stop until I was stumbling drunk. I decided to seek help when my husband told me that he could not take anymore and that he wanted out. Our marriage counselor actually diagnosed me as Bipolar.

The lamictal has taken away the urge to get drunk 3-4 nights a week, in fact in 2 months that I have been on it, I have not been drunk once. It is a big deal for me. I still have a drink or two from time to time, but that inability to stop myself is gone. I am 34 years old and I started drinking in High school.

Problem is, I cannot seem to relax, I have tension all through my shoulders, neck, face, jaw and head. I realize that I am clenching my jaw, and everything is tight and stressed feeling all the time. My teeth hurt like hell. She says it is anxiety. To combat the anxiety the doc prescribed Buspar, to replace the Prozac, but after about 10 days I was having weird electrical flashes, and I could not stop crying. Seriously, I almost never cry, never have been a big crier, but I spent most of my days collapsed in a heap sobbing. Not cool. So, 10 days ago she switched me to Zoloft, the crying has stopped, but I still have the severe tension in my head, neck and shoulders.

I also take Ambien at night to sleep. That is the only thing that takes away the tension, I would give anything to just feel relaxed. I have two young kids, and all that goes along with the issues with my husband. We are still living together, things are pretty rough though. It is not helping the anxiety.

I also take levothyroxin for Hypothyroidism.

So as of right now here is the list.
Sertroline 50mg
Lamictal 150mg
Levothyroxin 150mcg
Ambien 10mg

Has anyone else taken this combo...or ever had the tension issues? I would like to ask my doc for xanax for the times when the tension is unbearable. Any suggestions would be great.

New Member

Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 9/15/2010 8:17 AM (GMT -7)   
I appreciate the response. I am working toward being alcohol free.

The food issue is a good one...I had no idea that there were things I could eat, or not eat to help. I am not a big caffeine addict, but I do love a couple cups, or several diet cokes through the day. I am going to try cutting that out and see what happens. Other than that, I do have a pretty healthy diet, I splurge from time to time, but for the most part whole grains, lean meats, etc.

I would really like to know if anyone else has experienced the severe tension, or aches and pains on any of these meds?

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2009
Total Posts : 186
   Posted 9/16/2010 8:17 PM (GMT -7)   
Hey there and welcome!  I have been on Lamictal for umm.. *counts* about 8 years?  I take 325 mg a day.  I've never had any problem with it at all. 
You clearly have anxiety.  Ask your p-doc about a benzo like xanax.  It's fast working (about 15 min for me) and it has a short life.  It's the most normal I can feel if you understand what I'm saying. lol  It takes my tenseness away and doesn't zone me out at all.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2004
Total Posts : 1539
   Posted 9/16/2010 9:19 PM (GMT -7)   
What about decaf coffee? or tea?

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2010
Total Posts : 21
   Posted 9/17/2010 4:37 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi, I was diagnosed with BP II in July. It does sound like intense anxiety but you should check with a GP to make sure it's not something more....biological... if you know what I mean. I was diagnosed with a panic disorder about 6 years ago and besides panic attacks and things (which I don't get anymore) I get REALLY tense, so much it can really hurt. I take Xanax (it was a maximum of 3mg/day) but I found that I didn't need more than 2.25 mg/day. (It does make me drowsy and if i don't get up and do stuff I'll just fall asleep). Recently since my diagnosis, with trying to find a mood stabiliser that works and the fear that goes with finding out I have a REAL mental illness (what's going to happen, what will people think, will my life ever be the same, will I ever feel good again, and If i do is that feeling dangerous as i may end up hypomanic....sorry just a few of my fears at the moment) I have gone up to between 4 mg/day and occasionally just over 5 mg/day. (my psychiatrist assures me this is just until I get on top of things). But it definitely helps!!!!

With the self medication....not going into it too much but from 14 years until onwards there has been some sort of self medication at name it i've put it in my body pretty drinking has always been the same as you. Can't have just one. (1 is too many 40 is not enough ;-)) I haven't had a drink in about 3 months, maybe a bit longer. (I wasn't an alcoholic, but I binged whenever I drank and couldn't go out without drinking). Admittedly I've been feeling too crap to really go out since just before the diagnosis but I'll admit I am REALLY nervous about catching up with mates without drinking (only a couple of mates know what's going on). But drinking makes me feel worse so I'm just not going to do it.......

Anyway, I got a bit carried away with my own things there.

Good luck!

New Member

Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 9/17/2010 5:07 AM (GMT -7)   
I have repeatedly asked my doc for xanax, and she says she does not like it for bipolar because it can lower inhibitions, which face it we already suffer with...well I do anyway. She suggested some benedryl family drug...benedryl puts me on my butt, knocks me right out, so at 4pm when the tension really sets in, I cannot take that. I have dinner to make, kids to tend to, etc.

She did switch me from the sertroline to cymbalta...I guess we will see how that goes. I read that cymbalta can be helpful with pain management, so I have high hopes for this one.

I bought some herbal teas, and I have been sticking to that. I have not had caffeine in 2 days, have not had a cigarette in 5 days, and alcohol in 6. I am freaking BORED. And so far not feeling a huge difference, but I am going to give it a few more days.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2010
Total Posts : 21
   Posted 9/17/2010 6:09 AM (GMT -7)   
No wonder you're feeling so uptight: no drinks and caffeine and nicotine withdrawal........the cigarettes took months to get over....but I did get over them!!!!! Caffeine was a hard one as well! Does get easier with time!!!!!!!! And being a student I'd have up to 10 cups a day of STRONG coffee (no offense but not the weak, horrible stuff that was all I could find in the states....)

Have you asked you doctor about diazepam or valium? I tried them but found they didn't quite cut the anxiety out enough.

Honestly (and I'm bad at keeping it up) but going for a good jog or some sort of cardio work, not too hard, just whatever you can do but for at least half an hour a day really gets my stress down (physical, psychological and emotional) after a few days. Really helps me relax!!!

red lightening
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 620
   Posted 9/17/2010 9:14 AM (GMT -7)   
It doesn't matter when you drink, how much you drink, what you drink, how many you drink...
the deciding factor on being an alcoholic is...what happens when you drink? Is there a personality
change, blackouts, bad choices made...can you not stop at one but crave more and more? Do bad
things happen when you drink?

I was a binge drinker and that's still an alcoholic. In the first 6 months after
stopping drinking there is a great amount of anxiety because you are dealing with all the feelings
you numbed out before. There is no crutch now. All recovering alky's like myself go through this in the
beginning. I take Klonipin and have found it not to be addictive...but then I've never been addicted to
drugs...just the binge drinking,(alcoholic.)

A.A. is a great way to stay stopped drinking. Sure it has it's faults but it's still the best thing going out there.
There are lots of Bipolars in A.A. too.

I wish you luck ...p.s. the most important thing right now is to stop's super hard to quit
everything at once...if it's between a drink and a smoke...then smoke for God's sake...just don't drink.
And if you're trying to stay is a can taper back later after more sobriety time.
All this is advice from a sober Bipolar alcoholic binge drinker...I'll have 2 years sober this December!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 2896
   Posted 9/18/2010 5:22 PM (GMT -7)   
Re-reading. She recommended Benadryl WITH Lamictal?! There is a drug interaction between the two. For me, it created intense migraine headaches. Until I figured out to check for interactions, I curled up in the fetal position on the couch for 2 days. It was awful!
Bipolar 1
Borderline Personality Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Panic Disorder

Depakote, Abilify - FAIL; Seroquel - Epic Fail
Lamictal 200mg, Seroquel XR 50mg, Klonopin 0.5mg as needed

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 9/21/2010 1:15 PM (GMT -7)   
Wow, amazing. Your story really struck a chord with me because that is exactly how I have been with the drinking and I knew it had an underlying cause because I tried to quit so many times and never have been able to because I get *SO* manic and tense at night, it is literally insane. I just pace back and forth and can't be around anyone until I have a drink or two. But I know that is because I have uncontrolled manic states. If lamictal could help you with that, then I have high hopes for myself. It would be SUCH a relief to end the nightmare that is alcohol. I am going to try drinking some distilled water since that is supposed to flush toxins very well (when used for only a couple weeks) and I have a doc appointment coming up soon. Any word on how fast the lamictal takes effect? One minute less of the agony I've had with this is a golden minute to me.

BTW, I have a Xanax Rx and I don't feel lowered inhibitions whatsoever with them. In fact, perhaps the opposite. I usually talk less because it chills me out. They have been pretty useful for falling asleep sometimes (insomniac). I take the lowest dose and it works almost everytime. The best thing they are good for is panic attacks-- absolute lifesaver there. They work for me within about 2 minutes. Almost instantly. Well I shouldn't be bragging about this medication if your doc is going to refuse to give it. But I just bought some organic chamomile tea at Meijer's because I read a study where people who drank a cup of chamomile tea for a month overall had lower anxiety, a better outlook, less stress. It's supposed to help calm you and help sleep. I haven't tried it yet but perhaps tonight I will. It's supposed to have an instant effect (mild) and a long-term one that improves mental state. We shall see. scool

Oh P.S., I just started taking flax oil (omega-3), two teaspoons a day. This is also supposed to be good for mental states.

New Member

Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 9/22/2010 2:56 PM (GMT -7)   
The Lamictal (Pronounced Lamistal) gave me a wicked headache for the first few days, and everytime I increase my dosage, but once I got settled on it, it is great. I would say it took me about a week to feel the effects, I guess it is different for everyone. I stopped drinking when I started taking it because I wanted to see how it made me feel. And don't get me wrong, that urge to have a couple drinks after a long day is still there, but IF I do have a couple, it no longer leads to 10. I am trying to cut out alcohol completely, but as a lot of people know it is much easier said than done.

On a happy note, the doc switched me from the Sertoline, to Cymbalta...I feel so much better! Today is day 7 of the cymbalta, and I increase my dosage tomorrow to 60mg, I am actually looking forward to it. The tense, stressed feeling still comes and goes, but it is not nearly as bad as it was. I am hoping that once I get leveled out on my dosage, It will be gone.

I still wish that my doc would give me xanax to get me through the rough days, but she is pretty against it. I might ask her again if I am still having these issues next visit.

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2004
Total Posts : 437
   Posted 9/24/2010 6:06 PM (GMT -7)   
I tried Lamictal and it made me soooo anxious I was pacing cause i couldn't sit still and i had a sit down job at the time. it was aweful, i was so tense i hated it. but it made all the bad stuff go away and helped with things.
I think you have to weigh it and see which u can handle. If the drug is helping but making you anxious then maybe it's worth staying on it. I stopped taking it for 2 days and noticed an immediate relief. I couldn't take the drug myself. But i did notice all the noise in my head came back after stopping the drug. no other drug helped me with my problems the way lamictal did....but i just couldn't handle the side effects.
Crohn's Disease Dx'ed in '02
Bipolar 1 Disorder w/Psychosis -Rapid Cycle

Cimzia, Abilify, Tofranil, Aciphex , Lisinopril, Allegra-D, Sustenex

Crohn's drugs I've tried: Remicade (put me into remission for 5 years), Entocort, Immuran, Prednisone & Questran powder.
Bowel Resection: 2002
Fistula surgery: 2003
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