Medication & Bipolar Disorder


Depending on who you ask, there can be various ways to treat bipolar disorder. Some people believe that bipolar disorder can be treated holistically. Also, people may think that bipolar disorder can be treated through diet, exercise and supplements.

I personally feel that medication can be a life saver. It is for me. However, I do believe in also having a healthy diet and living a healthy life to stay well. Whether a person has bipolar disorder or not, healthy food, exercise, sleep, sunlight and rest are all important.

As human beings, we have many basic needs. If you choose not to take medicine, you may choose to skip this chapter. However, if you currently take medication for bipolar disorder or are considering taking them, this chapter may be helpful for you. Make sure to consult your psychologist, psychiatrist and/or medical team before taking, changing or stopping medication.

I currently have been taking medication for bipolar disorder for over five years and I haven’t seen the inside of a mental hospital since I got on the right medication. My medicinal regimen has literally saved my life. Does that mean that I do not work on myself and manage my illness? No. There is no magic pill. The same way a person with diabetes takes their medicine, watches what they eat and exercises, I too take good care of myself and take my medicine.

I live with my bipolar disorder but I also lead a successful and productive life. I owe this to taking my medicine daily. I have not missed a day in over five years. I know that the only reason for feeling as good as I do is because I do my part and stay on my medicine. The great part is, is that I only take two pills and one as needed. Also, I feel minimal side effects. For one, I might feel slightly nauseous if I don’t eat a big enough snack with my medicine. Secondly, I feel slightly tired. That’s it. To me, if feels like a small price to pay to stay hospital free.

Medicine is not always the easy part. Many men and women are concerned about weight gain with their medicine. Other side effects could be hair loss, insomnia and more. The important thing for me was to create a working relationship with my psychiatrist. I treat him as my partner and friend when it comes to my medicine. I let him know when I am worried that I could be feeling an odd side effect. I will ask him if it is possible to lower my dosages. I make sure to run everything by him and then he will help me with my medication.

My first example is with my antipsychotic medication. It was set at eighty milligrams when I started seeing him. I would take my medicine every night but it would make me very nauseous. I also felt a lot of trouble getting up in the morning. With careful consideration, we lowered my antipsychotic medication to sixty milligrams. Now, it is perfect. I always want to lower my dosages just to have less chemicals in my body but I don’t because I am stable. The chemicals in my brain are balanced with my medication. There are no visions, voices or grandiose plans. Mania is far in my past.

Obtaining my antipsychotic was difficult in the beginning. I was going to a low budget outpatient facility. I had come out of a manic hospitalization for the third time. Once I got on my current antipsychotic, it was like night and day for me. It finally clicked that in order for me to stay well, medicine was part of my daily routine. A couple of years later, through education, I learned that I needed a mood stabilizer. My lows and highs in my mood were to drastic.

My rollercoaster ride of emotions ended with medical therapy. Also, I got diagnosed with anxiety so I take medicine for that as needed. I am no different than someone who takes cholesterol or diabetes medication. The key with medicine is to be honest with yourself and take medicine as prescribed and as needed. There is no shame in getting help and getting on the right medicine. As mentioned earlier about psychology being a science, that goes for medicine also, it’s always changing. There are way more options for psychiatric drugs today than there was ten or even five years ago.

The key is to balance the chemicals in our brain. I stay on a schedule with my medicine. I make sure to take it every night with food. I make sure not to drink a lot of alcohol before taking my medicine. If I have problems with my medicine, I make sure to speak with my psychiatrist right away.

Here is an example of my path with medication to show that it can take a while to find a perfect fit:
2011 Seroquel and Risperdal
2012 Depakote and Abilify
2013 Latuda
2015 Latuda and Lamictal

As you can see, there was a path to reach the correct medicine for my brain. Medicine that works for me may not work for a close family member with bipolar disorder. Whether someone takes medicine or not, the goal is stability. I enjoy being stable. Even with medicine, the rest of the work is up to me. Being healthy takes time, self love and patience. Medicine plays a key role for me. Taking my medicine allows me to thrive and work. Working is important to me. That topic will be covered more in depth in Bipolar Disorder The Learning Library.

About the author:
Amy Perez has a Master’s Degree in General Psychology. She has worked in Miami, Florida with people living with various mental illnesses. She has spent many hours inside mental health facilities with a first hand patient perspective. Amy lives in Florida with her family and orange tabby. She enjoys reading, writing, cooking and spending time in nature.
Instagram: avidauthor
Twitter: @Psychologyamy
Facebook Group: Mental Health Encouragement
Writer: The Patient Next Door

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of PatientNextDoor. Any omissions or errors are the author’s and PatientNextDoor does not assume any liability or responsibility for them.

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