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Old 09-15-2020, 04:59 AM   #1
Fishkeeper
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Default Terrified to try lithium

Hi, I'm really afraid right now. I have rapid cycling bipolar 2. I'm newly diagnosed and just survived a month and a half cycle. I can feel it starting again. My last option besides EST is lithium and I'm afraid. Can anyone tell me their experience with lithium? Im ashamed and frightened. I just don't know what to do anymore.
Thank you
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Old 09-15-2020, 11:03 AM   #2
quietlylost
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Default Re: Terrified to try lithium

I had a good experience with lithium. It was the first medication to give me a "quiet mind." I felt more calm and at peace, though it wasn't without side effects. It's important with lithium to stay hydrated. Since it's a salt it can cause issues in your body. It can also be stressful on your kidneys, so you want to make sure to take care of yourself and get your blood levels checked regularly.

I eventually quit lithium because the major side effect for me was that it sapped my motivation. I ended up losing interest in things and also gaining weight, so I stopped. I have thought about going back on it in the past, but my current medication regimen seems to be working well.

I would say that in general lithium is a good medication. It has also shown to help improve depression overall and be protective against suicide. If you have specific fears, definitely talk to your doctor about those to make sure you get all your questions answered and have all the information to make the best decision possible for you.
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Old 09-15-2020, 11:09 AM   #3
FluffyDinosaur
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Default Re: Terrified to try lithium

I was on lithium, and for me it did not cause any major side-effects. Only a slight tremor and mild nystagmus (only occasionally, and this one is supposed to be very rare). I didn't have any weight gain. In general, as psych meds go, lithium is reasonably mild on side-effects. I must add that for me, it didn't really help much, either. Reducing manic symptoms, maybe, but not depression. It seems to work great for many people, though.

Of course there's always the risk of long-term complications, but they monitor for that. I've heard that kidney damage by lithium is mainly caused by repeated occasions where the lithium levels in your blood become toxic. The toxic levels are relatively close to the therapeutic levels. So the thing is to take the minimum therapeutic dosage that works for you and make sure you drink well. If you do that and have occasional check-ups, you should be okay.

When I first started taking psych meds I was also terrified by the huge lists of side-effects. Now I only look at the "very common" and "common" side-effects (as they are often listed) and I don't even consider the rest because the chance that I'll get them is very small. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. If there's nothing in the most common side-effects that's an absolute no-go for you, then I wouldn't worry too much. You can always stop if it doesn't work for you.
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Old 09-15-2020, 11:16 AM   #4
Fishkeeper
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Default Re: Terrified to try lithium

Quote:
Originally Posted by quietlylost View Post
I had a good experience with lithium. It was the first medication to give me a "quiet mind." I felt more calm and at peace, though it wasn't without side effects. It's important with lithium to stay hydrated. Since it's a salt it can cause issues in your body. It can also be stressful on your kidneys, so you want to make sure to take care of yourself and get your blood levels checked regularly.

I eventually quit lithium because the major side effect for me was that it sapped my motivation. I ended up losing interest in things and also gaining weight, so I stopped. I have thought about going back on it in the past, but my current medication regimen seems to be working well.

I would say that in general lithium is a good medication. It has also shown to help improve depression overall and be protective against suicide. If you have specific fears, definitely talk to your doctor about those to make sure you get all your questions answered and have all the information to make the best decision possible for you.


Thank you so much for your honest experience. It means a lot.
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Old 09-15-2020, 11:25 AM   #5
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Default Re: Terrified to try lithium

Thank you , I'm really having a hard time with coming to terms with having to take it. I'm glad the side effects havent been bad for you. They really scare me but I know I cant keep doing what I'm doing. Unfortunately depression is my issue. Something has to help.
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Old 09-16-2020, 07:51 AM   #6
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Default Re: Terrified to try lithium

I took lithium with no problems. My husband took lithium and had life-threatening problems when he became toxic (while being carefully monitored). He went into kidney failure, was put on dialysis, and was in the ICU for a week, psychotic because the dialysis pulled all meds off his system so abruptly. It was a terrifying experience, and one we both refused to risk ever again. Neither of us are on any psychiatric medications any longer and we're doing well thanks to a great therapist.

I am not anti-med or even anti-lithium by any means. I do say that lithium is a very serious med with some potentially life-threatening side-effects, even when carefully administered and monitored. In my husband's case, he has other medical problems that probably complicated the issue and the pdoc should have never used lithium with him because of the potential for complications due to those other medical issues. I never had any problems with lithium, but the entire situation was pretty traumatic and I could never put another lithium pill in my mouth after that.
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Old 09-17-2020, 02:47 AM   #7
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Default Re: Terrified to try lithium

I was put on lithium in 2007 at age 14. The increased thirst was a nightmare. I spent all night drinking water to the point I was denied it for fear of water intoxication. I ended up wetting the bed one night. I was unbearably thirsty the entire time I was on it. Then in 2013 it started affecting my kidneys and I had to go off it. My kidney levels have still not gone down and the last time my blood was checked my levels actually had gone up a bit. Yeah lithium was not good for me but that was just my experience and I think my case is pretty unusual.
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Old 09-17-2020, 11:48 AM   #8
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Default Re: Terrified to try lithium

I was on a pretty good dose of lithium for a while and had no side effects, although it didn't help me too much. Perhaps my levels were too low. I do have kidney damage from overdosing on it though.
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