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Saturday, September 20, 2008 kitana, Community Member, asks

Q: i stopped taking lithium, but i am not sure i should have! can you help?

i was diagnosed as bipolar 21 months ago, and took 600mg of lithium a night up till 6 months ago when i decided i didnt want them any more, i have not seen a doctor or psychiatrist since then, as i didnt want to be told what i already knew, but i think now i know i need the lithium, but i didnt like how i felt on lithium, i felt premanently numb to everything in my life, is this normal, what should i do?

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Answers (2)
Dr. Diana Walcutt, Health Guide
9/20/08 11:17pm

Hi Kitana:

You are describing the biggest problem with medications for Bipolar Disorder. People just don't like taking them and they don't like what happens when they don't take them. The most common type of Bipolar Disorder patient I see starts to feel good in the Spring and awful in the Fall and Winter. In the early Spring, the little bit of manic symptoms are kinda fun, in that you can get more done, and still have lots of energy. Then, sometime in Summer or late Summer, the mania becomes out of control and it's lost its fun. You can spend recklessly, do drugs, and can make some very bad choices. After that often comes the downswing; you start getting tired, then depressed and then you can become VERY depressed.

Lithium and other medications like it control the swings between manic and depressed, hence the name Bipolar, or swinging between the two poles of up and down. You're probably not going to like this, but you really should speak with your psychiatrist about your medications and it would be better if you did it sooner rather than later.


I hope this helps,

Dr. Diana Walcutt


*Dr. Walcutt is a Psychologist. Dr. Walcutt's answers are not intended to diagnose or treat any medical or mental disorder. Any information given in a post about medication is for educational purposes only, and primarily to aid you in having an informed discussion with your own Psychiatrist/Physician.



kitana, Community Member
8/14/09 6:39pm

Thanx for your help, i saw my Psychiatrist, i started taking my meds again....but im not sure its working still!


I am going to see him again to see what else we can try!

New Millenium, Community Member
8/13/09 12:26pm

Hi.  Hope I can help.  I have been a lithium user for the last 9 years and it saved my life and also gave me a stable relationship (which sorry can be boring).  I'll take the trade off any day...stable boring vs nonstable and crazy self medicating.  I guess that is what you have to ask yourself.  Are you ready for a more even mooded life or one that spirals out of control? You should go back to your psychiatrist and ask two things one:  is the dose enough to be therapedic at 600 (you can check by getting a blood test after taking it for 30 days) and two: what is the drug most doctors prescribe for this type of disorder?


I have taken lithium (they also have lithium carbonate in 450 mgs) 600-900mg and it was nothing more than a placebo.  Going from 900-1200 and doing it every day was the only way that I could get true stability. I have cheated and not taken them thinking I could beat it but think again you can't beat or trick or try to will it away.  You need your lithium.  It's just salt and it's been around and proven for decades.  Try it for two months straight and don't cheat take it every day and the right amount and you will be happy.  

kitana, Community Member
8/14/09 6:38pm

its lithium carbonate i take.....i am taking it again now, but still only 600mg....its not working.....i have just asked to see my psychiatrist again, as he didnt want to see me till november.....but even taking the meds again regularly, i am a mess!


I do think i need more, or maybe a complimentary med to take as well as the lithium carbonate


What is the difference between the lithium and the lithium carbonate?

I thought they were the same, and just said lithium for quickness!!

New Millenium, Community Member
8/15/09 7:08pm

Hey kit,



New Millenium, Community Member
8/15/09 7:19pm

Hey kit.  Lithium carbonate comes in 450mg doses and is practically the same thing as lithium.  Ask your doctor about specifics or go to wickipedia for lithium.  I take lithium twice daily 600 in the morning and 600 in the pm.  I weigh 200 lbs. 6 feet tall 46 years old.  I was taking barely 900mgs (in 2004) and the doctor said I was just under therapudic.  You have to take enough of this stuff and every day otherwise you are lieing to yourself. Don't give up on lithium.  See what your doctor says about 900mgs-1200mgs.  There are people that take up to 1500mgs.  It all depends on the blood test and how your body processes it. Again it's the blood test that will decide if you should up the dosage and your doctor should know this.

kitana, Community Member
8/16/09 9:02pm

Yeah, over here (the UK) i get my lithium in 200mg and 400mg tablets....i think they do 800mg too.....guess it depends on the phamaceutical company!


I had already decided to speak with my psych. about my dosage.....i am only just really realising how many things i have taken for granted as 'normal' that i should mention to him!


Such as irritability, anxiety, paranoia, and even temper!


I think i always lied to myself about these things....and now i realise (and have asked friends and family opinions) that these things are not to a 'normal' degree with me!


So as i get to understand more of what is the bipolar, i understand just how many symptoms i have missed up till now!


I will hopefully see my psych. soon, and discuss all of it!


And get myself more stable again hopefully!


Thanx for the help


Kit x

New Millenium, Community Member
8/17/09 12:19pm

Excellent Kit. I love your commitment.  That is what you need.  Before I was diagnosed and even when I went off lithum (big mistake big huge!) my life was a suicidal self mendicating mess of lost relationships and overly sexed periods which I mistook for love and being in love.  This should sound familiar to you.  Anyway, the miracle of lithium is that it practically by itself helped me to stop thinking about suicide and too much sex and the drinking went way down to less that 10 per week.  I could make descisions based on rational thought not what my libido was driving me to do.

I'm really glad that I (Chicago) could maybe help someone from you (UK).  Bipolar really

knows no borders.  Just remember that I am alive because of lithium.  You will be alive too.  More than you would have ever dreamed.  Peace to you Kit and cheers to lithium.xx

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By kitana, Community Member— Last Modified: 11/22/13, First Published: 09/20/08