Medications

I talk about meds a lot on this blog. Medication management is a major aspect of dealing with chronic health problems. People are curious about mood-altering medications and need to hear about others’ experiences.

My current daily cocktail includes several prescriptions to manage multiple conditions, but notably, I take the brand-name drugs for the psychoactive meds because generic “equivalents” do not perform anywhere near as well for extended release formulations. I also take an anxiolytic, Lorazepam (Ativan), 1mg, as needed for anxiety.

  1. Wellbutrin XL, 300mg daily: antidepressant, the only one I can take
  2. Adderall XR, 40mg daily (20mg morning and mid-day): stimulant for ADD
  3. Fluticasone Propionate (Flonase), 2 squirts daily per nostril: for non-allergic rhinitis
  4. Progesterone (Prometrium), 400mg on a complicated dosing strategy: for endocrine imbalance
  5. Low-dose naltrexone, working up to 4.5mg daily at night: for endocrine imbalance

I’ve had genetic testing for medication sensitivities, and highly recommend it to anyone taking psychoactive drugs for a chronic condition. I also use melatonin (3mg) as an as-needed sleep aid, dimenhydrinate to prevent motion sickness, and naproxen sodium for general pain relief.

Psychoactive medications I’ve taken in the past include:

  1. Prozac (fluoxetine): ineffective; caused suicidality, psychosis.
  2. Effexor (venlafaxine): ineffective; unmemorable.
  3. Ritalin (methylphenidate): good results.
  4. Concerta (methylphenidate): good results.
  5. Strattera (atomoxetine): ineffective; numerous horrible side effects.
  6. Atarax (hydroxyzine hcl): ineffective.
  7. Zoloft (sertraline hcl): ineffective; caused panic attacks.
  8. Pristiq (desvenlafaxine): ineffective; numerous side effects.
  9. Lamictal (lamotrigine): questionable efficacy; reduced cognitive function.
  10. Several birth control pills, all of which were horrible.

Non-prescription remedies I’ve tried in the past include:

  1. Valerian: no effect.
  2. Kava kava: no effect.
  3. St. John’s Wort: no effect.
  4. Cannabis: effective for temporary relief of symptoms, pain relief, and sleep aid.

I take a few vitamins and supplements as well; this is my usual regimen:

  1. Omega-3 fatty acid fish oil: mood support, overall cognitive functioning
  2. Vitamin D-3: mood support
  3. Balanced B Complex: mood support
  4. B12: mood support
  5. Calcium: reduces PMS symptoms
  6. Vitamin E: because my doctor said I should
  7. Iron: reduces bruising from chronic anemia
  8. Vitamin C: for better iron absorption
  9. Inositol: mood support

10 thoughts on “Medications”

  1. I just take quetapine, before I was taking olanazapine but this deep depression, I querry your relating too much sleep equalling depression, if I don’t take medication I don’t sleep and I become very high without recognising the problem, can’t have any stimulants in any quantity for the same reason, I think we have different bi-polar, mine is very rapid cyclying but I notice our mood chart looks the same! Anyway I have found a book which identifies the problems: An unquiet Mind by Dr. Jamison Another excellent book is a self help one; Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide by David J Miklowizt, also, “They F*** you Up” by Oliver James, it’s based round the Philip Larkin poem of the same first line, but gives his view as to cause and effect of mental illiness.

    • Everyone experiences both medications and the illness itself differently. What I’ve said is that I do get high when I don’t sleep, but I’ve also recognized that if I sleep too much, I feel down. And I’m definitely rapid cycling as well. I have to take stimulants for ADD, though, and oddly enough they don’t affect my sleep at all.

      I’ve read the Jamison book as well as the Miklowizt book. Those were among my first reads on the topic, both excellent! I haven’t seen the Oliver James book yet, though, so I’ll have to look for that one. I know there are important “nurture” factors as well as the organic issues, but I get a little touchy when people suggest that I have bipolar because my family messed with my head. They didn’t. I was very lucky to have an amazingly supportive, normal family life when I was young, and a lot of people have a hard time understanding that.

  2. Hugely helpful site! OMG. I am BPII (no, I just play one on TV) with a lot of similarities diagnosed maybe 1996-7. I was also on Lamictal before it was cool along with Wellbutrin – until I had a seizure on it (and not a ton, either) after I didn’t sleep the night before. But, I’ve since learned that most things will lower your seizure threshold if you don’t sleep. Otherwise, our med sheets look quite similar. I started Adderall for focus and productivity help in April of this year and am loving it! Here I thought it was just my clever idea – it sounds crazy on paper, doesn’t it? It does make me somewhat hypomanic but I’m playing with dose and focusing on not being a jerkface. :)

    Question for you: I learned after a good…maybe 10 years? That Wellbutrin wasn’t working for me anymore… I loved the combo and the side effects (sans seizure, natch) were non-existant. I had a good foundation. Have you ever had an experience of vacationing from Wellbutrin for any extended period, and if so, how long and how did you feel going back on? I’m yet to find anyone else who’s tried that. I wasn’t in a great place, but when I re-started it (after shopping a few rounds of newer-gen meds unsuccessfully) – I had a massive anxiety meltdown response to it. Because I was working, I cut and ran so very, very far away. I had *some* success with Effexor afterward.

    I’m currently working on starting DBT – that’s how I found your site. I’m also in school, just trying to finish my Associate’s! How did you DO THIS (DOCTORAL LEVEL?!?!)? Great job!! Seriously – my transcript looks like it was Brought to You By the Letter ‘W’. I struggle with big anxiety around timelines.

    Thank you for blogging all of this, you are a rockstar. I look forward to pouring over your site for inspiration. You’ve already been a great help.
    Thank you!

    • I haven’t been off Wellbutrin since 2000, and it still seems to be working for me – although it’s hard to know with all the other meds now in the mix. Every time I reduce it, I get hit in the face with depression, so we’ve stopped trying that.

      Never had any seizures, although that seems to be a risk for everything I take, except Lamictal. I figure that now I’m safe since Lamictal is an anticonvulsant, so the meds should be canceling each other out, right?

      The PhD was really hard. I started it before my BP dx, so I didn’t know that I had extra baggage to carry along that path. There were a lot of twists and turns, but I was pretty determined to finish what I started.

  3. It was enlightening to read this post. I have tried several medications and the only one I really stuck with for any length of time and found effective was the Wellbutrin. I am currently not taking any medication and think that incorporating the vitamins into my daily routine may help. I just found your blog today and it is a encouraging to read your posts and not feel like no one else gets it. Thanks for being so informative and able to share with others. I know for sure I appreciate it!

  4. Hey DeeDee,

    I started Lamictal a bit more than a week ago (taking 50mg) – how long did it take to start working for you?

    I’m just started to get over the side effects and am feeling less depressed, but I don’t know whether to equate it to the meds or whether it’s psychosomatic (which usually happens when I start a new med.)

    I think my pdoc said the standard therapeutic dose was 100mg, yes?

    Thanks!

  5. I take xaanax, for anxiety, wellbutrin 150 mg twice a day, and oxycontin m40 mg for chronic pain from having spinal cord sugery in 2008. I suffer these afflictions due to my ohysical and mental health. Funything is I am not bipolar. I too have tried many therapies including medical marajuana, which does work will no side affects.

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