What a wonderful forum! Hello everyone.
Please forgive me because this is a long post. My name is Dyane and I'm the 42 year-old mother of two little girls, happily married for 14 years. I was diagnosed with bipolar in 2007 just two months postpartum. I have been hospitalized four times, I finally had ECT therapy, I have tried over 15 different drugs for mood disorders and I could obviously go on and on. The only treatments that have worked for me have been lithium and ECT. I grew up with a father who had bipolar as well. As a freelance writer I have interviewed such luminaries as Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison and Dr. Martha Manning.
After an enormous amount of deliberation and research, I decided to taper off lithium. I've taken lithium for 4 years and I currently take 450 mg/day. I was on 900 mg for the past couple years and over the summer I went down to 675 mg/day for a month, then down to 450 mg/day for the past month. I am feeling stable and I am sleeping much better with less anxiety. This is huge progress for me!)
Below is the advice I got from Dr. Liz Miller a couple days ago. She is the highly acclaimed author of "Mood Mapping", a renowned mental health advocate in the U.K., the subject of Stephen Fry's groundbreaking t.v. series "The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive" (on youtube now) She is also highly controversial and incredibly inspiring to me.
Dr. Miller was diagnosed with bipolar and she has been med-free and doing well for over 12 years. Her new blog is at www.drlizmiller.com.
I am seeking a support team with others who have bipolar and are tapering off lithium, if you are interested please PM me. I'd be thrilled to hear from you. I am also extremely interested in finding *success stories* about
those who have successfully tapered off lithium. Thanks for reading this and take care!
From Dr. Liz Miller:
Apologies for the slow reply – have been in China, and couldn’t access the website (thanks Google )
This is an article I wrote about
coming off medication some time ago
http://bipolarassociation.blogspot.co.u ... ation.html
As far as reducing medication – it is important to get everything else right first. Medication should be the last thing to go, when you sorted out your environment, physical health, relationships, strategies and identity and hence learnt to manage your mood. At that point – who needs pills!!!
For my part, I take care of my diet, exercise lifestyle, relationships and am doing what I love! what more could I ask? I have been off meds for the last twelve years and never been happier or healthier!
Lithium gets in the clockwork! – it seems to work at the level of cell messenger RNA. J Baldessarini did some studies that showed if you stopped lithium suddenly – 85% had a further episode within 2-3 years, compared to 30% of a control group who reduced their dose more slowly over 6 weeks. It is interesting the long lasting effects of lithium. “Effects of the Rate of Discontinuing Lithium Mainte- nance Treatment in Bipolar Disorders” RJ Baldessarini, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 57:441-8, 1996
Many people have successfully come off lithium. My view is that reducing lithium needs to be done very slowly. Taking it down by as little as 100mg a month depending on how sensitive you are to its effects.
Ask your psychiatrist what he would do if your kidneys failed? You are asking to do whatever that might be, before your kidneys fail – so that you don’t have to go through dialysis etc. A cardinal sign of impending kidney failure is getting up in the night to pass urine, because your kidneys are losing their ability to concentrate urine. If this is the case for you, you certainly must come off lithium.
In the meantime, concentrate on a healthy life and take your time to make changes!
The Icarus project is a great website and you may find this article helpful
http://www.theicarusproject.net/downloa ... ePrint.pdf