I spend a significant amount of time talking about psychiatric medication because I run into so many people that have drastic misconceptions about it, its applications, and how to best find success with it. It’s perfectly fine if you don’t want to use psych medication to try and get stable. What’s important is that you are making an informed choice about it. My personal opinion is that it is impossible to get control over Bipolar Disorder without it. Yes- a person can minimize the impact of unwell periods through natural means. I have never heard of anyone being able to eliminate the cycles altogether, with data to back it up, through non-medication means.
-There is a fuse on explosive situations.
Due to my living openly with Bipolar Disorder, I get pulled aside by quite a few people for a few quick words. A lot of those encounters have to do with a friend or loved one who was on a psych medication and ended up killing themselves. I’ve ran into Bipolars who did not want to take psych meds because they had a relative who killed themselves while on it or had a friend who preached the evils of it.
Every time I hear one of these stories my mind is flooded with questions. Was the person drinking/doing drugs while on it? Were they taking it as directed? Did they contact their doctor if they are having problems? Did they try and quit cold turkey? All of these things can possibly have devastating repercussions.
A person starting a new psychiatric medication knows they are going into a potentially dangerous situation. Therefore, you need to take precautions to ensure it doesn’t blow up in your face. Stop and analyze your moods a couple times a day as you start taking it. If it is making you worse- CALL YOUR DOCTOR. It really is that simple. A person that slits their wrists isn’t doing it because of the pills they took 5 minutes before. It can be fast but there is plenty of time to catch dangerous mental shifts if you are paying attention and monitoring your thoughts.
-A Bipolar person will likely be on psychiatric medication for the rest of their life.
“I started feeling better so I stopped taking it.” “I only take it when I don’t feel well.” “I won’t have to be on it that long, will I?”
Yes, yes you will. Bipolar Disorder is for life. When you get well from taking the medication, you MUST continue taking the medication if you want to retain your stability. The medication replaces chemicals or stimulates processes in your mind that it normally lacks- which is the physical reason behind the drastic mood shifts of the Disorder.
I’m pretty sure that most of us have a story of when we decided we didn’t need medication anymore and stopped taking it. It’s a great way to cause chaos in your mind on an unprecedented scale. If you’re well- do yourself and your loved ones a favor and keep taking the meds. Yes, it sucks to be shackled to it the rest of your life. But if it’s any consolation, look at your life up until that point and decide if you want to go back to that or take some pills every day? Bring on the pills!
-There are affordable medications out there to get Bipolar Disorder under control.
A significant portion of the people I talk to about Bipolar Disorder are either broke as shit or are on their way to broke as shit. When I provide people with information or advice, I want to ensure they are getting useful information they can implement and use for an extended period of time without too much of a burden on themselves. I know there are plenty of times in my life that I couldn’t afford 100+ bucks a month for medication and I don’t assume others can either.
So! Below you will find a list of generic medications available from the Wal-Mart pharmacy (or check your local pharmacies/big box retailers to see if any of them have generic programs) that are $4 for 30 days. Generics are simply meds that are no longer in their patent period which is what commands the high prices of name brand medications as the company tries to recoup their development investment and turn a profit. A lot of times it’s the same company that originally held the patent that produces them.
When you deal with your doctor- ask for a generic equivalent if possible. You have to be proactive about being informed. Doctors don’t regularly monitor pharmacy prices.
Citalopram – Celexa – Antidepressant
Fluoxetine – Prozac – Antidepressant
Amitriptyline – Sarotex – Antidepressant
Nortriptyline – Sensoval – Antidepressant
Paroxetine – Paxil – Antidepressant
Trazodone – Trazodone – Antidepressant
Lithium Carbonate – Lithium – Mood Stabilizer
Carbamazepine – Tegretol – Mood Stabilizer
Fluphenazine – Antipsychotic
I presently take Lithium Carbonate and Citalopram. I tried Fluoxetine but it didn’t do a damned thing for me. Lithium is the gold standard of mood stabilizers and has been in use as one since about 1950. It works really well for a lot of people and is the standard to which all new mood stabilizers are held.
I typically do not “recommend” anything. My usual advice is just keep trying things until something works because your brain chemistry is unique to you. Just because something works for me doesn’t mean a damned thing for you at all. However, Lithium is the exception as it has decades of data behind it. If you need an affordable mood stab, I recommend researching and inquiring with your doctor about lithium carbonate. It can potentially have some very severe side effects and isn’t a good choice for people with high blood pressure or heart problems. Do your research on any medication you put into your body. Pharmacies give you fact sheets, ask your doctor, ask your pharmacist, whatever.
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