Bi-polar and ADD symptoms

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New Member

Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 3/10/2006 6:11 PM (GMT -7)   
Goodness knows someone out there has been through this before...and although my experiences are minor compared to many, I could really use a little advice!  My bi-polar disorder was diagnosed six years ago, along with anorexia, bulemia, OCD, and panic/anxiety disorder, all of wich had been evident for 7 years prior to their diagnosis.  Along with some counselling for the eating disorders, I'm still searching for the best 'chemical cocktail' to deal with the symptoms of bi-polar because I tend to react adversly to a lot of meds.  The latest mix, started in November, is Wellbutrin, lithium (low dose), and Ativan as needed. 
Normally I'm very high functioning, but lately (the past year or two) everything seems to be sliding a bit.  It's now to the point where I wake up, go to work for 15-17 hours, and go to sleep.  I've gained 20 lbs, lost interest in almost everything, abandoned my social life entirely, and although I've been working ridiculous hours, feel like I'm not accomplishing anything at all!  I'm constantly getting distracted, not able to concentrate, procrastinating, and really, really foggy. The normal procedure at this point has always been to either change meds (suspecting negative side effects) or up the dosage, but after 6 years and a hundred different doses and combinations, I'm losing hope!  The only thing I've found that helps with these symptoms is highly illegal (although I limited myself to very, very small doses and didn't have bad withdrawals without it, I'm not going to risk the consequences, and I'm also aware of typical 'self-medicating' tendencies.  I don't touch the stuff at all now).
I know it can take a very long time to find what works best, but I'm actually wondering if this could be related to ADD or some other CNS disorder.  I have a fairly good rapport with my doctor, but I'm always paranoid about sounding like a hypochondriac I and don't want to waste his time, so I hesitate bringing this up with him.  I also know the chemical properties of many ADD meds are similar to my self-medicating favorite and I don't want to seem like a junkie asking my doc about trying it!  Can anyone share their experiences with Adult ADD, bi-polar, or whatever else might be happening here?

Ellie 1
Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 1291
   Posted 3/10/2006 8:22 PM (GMT -7)   
I don't have any experience with ADD but I would certainly get with my physician on this. Many times meds that can assist with one disorder can actually antagonize another.
I too tend to low dose but appear to have found something that works for me now. I hope you will find a cocktail that works for you soon. Lithium did not work well for me personally, it left me foggy. I now am taking Abilify and Klonopin and my pdoc says that we'll probably be adding an ssri soon. So far so good.
I can't say that I don't miss my "Highs" but it's been a good trade for the most part. I'm not yelling at everyone all the time anymore. I have children and it is imperative that I remain stable for their sake. They deserve normal childhoods.
Good luck to you and keep us posted
Good judgement comes from experience and alot of that comes from bad judgement.

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 3/12/2006 10:18 PM (GMT -7)   
I was diagnosed bipolar1 only months ago. I am currently on lithium900mg, and serequal400mg. I am taking higher doses but they really seem to have worked great for me. All the luck to you, and hang in there. Tina

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2005
Total Posts : 121
   Posted 3/15/2006 6:04 PM (GMT -7)   
One thing to mention here is that there is a very large comorbidity between Bipolar I & II D/O & ADD/ADHD. According to the DSM-IV, even 4 of the criteria overlap.

However -- your statements about the long hours of work & sleep seem to indicate that something else might be going on. I'd consult your psychiatrist and maybe look into working through a "life chart." This document can be especially helpful for patients to discuss with their physicians. You should be able to easily find it online -- I believe it was developed by Roy Perlis and his group at Massachusetts General.

New Member

Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 3/17/2006 9:37 AM (GMT -7)   
I'm a woman diagnosed with both bipolar d/o & ADD.  I'm betting that we've been thru a lot of similar experiences, as I've been battling both all my life, with a diagnosis in my 20's.  I also suffer from anorexia, although I'm currently not "practicing."  I've tried just about every med there is & I thought maybe if I share what i've experienced, it might help you a little.
Right now, i'm taking anti-seizure medication for the bipolar (Lamictal & Abilify), Cytomel, Cymbalta, propranolol, Ritalin LA & Xanax.  I know that sounds like a lot (& it is!!), but as long as i've been careful about the choices i've made in my life lately (such as NO alcohol) and have followed up w/ my drs & therapist, i've been fairly stable.  I think if you talk to your dr about the ADD, you'll find that he/she is more receptive than you're expecting.  The Ritalin does not have a stimulant effect on me, surprisingly--in patients with ADD, it has a calming effect and improves mental focus and concentration.  I've attempted self-medication in the past with alcohol and illegal substances, with no success (like you), and in spite of that, i've found that Ritalin does not trigger any type of craving for other stimulants.  The anti-seizure meds are also being used more & more commonly for bipolar & they've been the most effective for me.  I've tried lithium, seroquel & a trillion other meds, so i feel pretty confident in suggesting that you talk to your dr about the types of meds i've mentioned.
I hope this helps a little!!  I wish you the best of luck!

New Member

Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 3/18/2006 1:00 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks for the feedback, everyone...very much appreciated.

Lori, I'd be really interested to chat with you a little more about what you went through (especially in the beginning, around my age). Please send an e-mail if you have a free minute!

ckgMD, I've done the retrospective life chart analysis and I also do daily/weekly charting of my mood and related factors (diet, excercise, hrs of sleep, etc) and other than recognizing a few behavioural changes (some better, some worse), there's nothing that really stood out to me or my psychiatrist. I meet a significant number of criteria for ADD, but I also question the reasons behind the characteristic behaviours. By suggesting 'something else is going on', were you questioning conditioned or environmental stimuli that may be bringing on these behavioural tendencies, or a different physiological reason? Any other suggestions? I can't get an appointment with my pdoc for over a month, so I'm just trying to do a little homework on my own.
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