I talk about meds a lot on this blog. Medication management is a major aspect of dealing with bipolar disorder. People are curious about mood-altering medications and need to hear about others’ experiences. Despite seemingly constant tweaks to my prescriptions, I do fairly well overall.
My current daily cocktail includes a mood stabilizer, an antidepressant, a stimulant, and an oral contraceptive. I also take an anxiolytic, Lorazepam (Ativan), 1mg, as needed for anxiety.
- Lamotrigine (Lamictal), 100mg daily: mood stabilizer, currently titrating off.
- Wellbutrin XL, 300mg daily: antidepressant, the only norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor. I take the brand-name drug because generic “equivalents” are not as effective.
- Dextroamphetamine-amphetamine salts ER (Adderall XR), 40mg daily (20mg morning and mid-day): stimulant for ADD, makes symptoms much more tolerable.
- Ethinyl estradiol/drospirenone (Yaz): hormonal regulation to reduce PMDD symptoms.
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 acetaminophen for general pain relief.
Psychoactive medications I’ve taken in the past include:
- Prozac (fluoxetine): ineffective; caused suicidality, psychosis.
- Effexor (venlafaxine): ineffective; unmemorable.
- Ritalin (methylphenidate): good results.
- Concerta (methylphenidate): good results.
- Strattera (atomoxetine): ineffective; numerous horrible side effects.
- Atarax (hydroxyzine hcl): ineffective.
- Zoloft (sertraline hcl): ineffective; caused panic attacks.
- Pristiq (desvenlafaxine): ineffective; numerous side effects.
Non-prescription remedies I’ve tried in the past include:
- Valerian: no effect.
- Kava kava: no effect.
- St. John’s Wort: no effect.
- Cannabis: effective for temporary relief of symptoms and sleep aid.
I take a few vitamins and supplements as well; they are selected based on scientific research and offsetting depletion from medications. This is my usual regimen:
- Omega-3 fatty acid fish oil: mood support, overall cognitive functioning
- Vitamin D-3: mood support; offsets lamotrigine
- Balanced B Complex: mood support
- Folic acid: offsets lamotrigine
- Calcium: reduces PMDD symptoms