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Wednesday, November 19, 2008 Jackie Boman, Community Member, asks

Q: Can bipolar disorder be controlled without meds?

Can bipolar disorder be controlled without meds?

I have a hard time staying on my meds because my husband doesn't understand my need for them (he believes I should be able to get control without the help of meds) and financial reasons. I am on disability right now and when I get my disability I have to pay bills with it. My husband works and we're struggling to get by, so I hate to ask for additional money for medicine. I want to go back to work, but I'm having a hard time getting employers to give me a chance. I feel my husband blames me for our financial situation and this is causing me to feel more depressed. I'm currently not taking my meds (cymbalta and abilify), my counselor is suggesting prozac because its more affordable.

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Answers (2)
Jerry Kennard, Health Guide
11/21/08 10:08am

Hi Jackie,


This is a sad situation. The problem with the 'need no meds' approach is that it seems to assume you have no problem - or at least it is within your ability to control it. If we follow this path to its logical outcome, what is really being said is, "there's nothing wrong with you".


Assuming you have been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder this doesn't really fit. I'm not sure what meds you have been prescribed but if one is lithium it shouldn't be messed around with in a stop-start manner. Actually no medication should be treated in this way because the point of it is to achieve a therapeutic dose to enable you to function properly.


I can see that the problem might be one of money, but my suggestion is that you stand a better chance of getting well and staying well if you follow your prescribed treatment pattern. Maybe then you can consider getting back to work and contributing to the household income. If you don't the alternatives for you may be rather more bleak.


You ask if bipolar can be controlled without meds. The short answer is probably not in a stable fashion, although the longer you live with the condition the greater the likelihood that you will develop personal strategies for recognising and coping with it.


I really hope you are able to work this through.

Narelle, Community Member
9/ 9/11 12:53am

I know where you are coming from Jackie, have been in a rocky economic situation for the last year. However I have gone down the "I don't need my meds" road and it was a hard one...I got very manic and very stupid (goes with the trritory) drank too much, spent money I didn't have (yep!) and then ended up back on the meds and sort of stable. If you had diabetes would your partner tell you to stop taking insulin cause it's too expensive?? This is an illness and most of us (I know some who don't but not many) need medication. It is your helath and could be your life that's at risk if you don't. Talk to your doctor about options you may have. In Australia we are lucky to have a pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS) that helps enormously. Your doc may be able to give you sample packs of some meds (mine was doing that last year before seroquel went on the PBS).

If you do stop taking anything please dont do it abruptly and without talking through it with a medical professional.

Good luck


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By Jackie Boman, Community Member— Last Modified: 09/09/11, First Published: 11/19/08