Make a list

Understanding your medications and how they affect you is an important first step.  Often, I have found talking with other people who are bipolar and on medication for bipolar disorder, people take the medications their doctor prescribe them without questioning why they are taking them.  I admit, I was just as guilty.  We just want to be fixed!

In order to reduce medications, to eventually eliminate or perhaps just to maintain better control, first you must understand why you are taking medication.  I know, to be better!  But that is not all. Are you taking med X to stabilize your mood or for anxiety.  Once you know why you are taking med X find out what the side effects are.  Then if you plan on reducing or eliminating med X find out the proper way to stop taking it.  NEVER COLD TURKEY!  Cold turkeying a med can lead to severe consequences!  Including extreme mania, hallucination, extreme depression, seizures, etc.  So before deciding to take a big step, step into your doctor’s office and talk to him or her first.  But go in prepared!  You will more than likely not be taken seriously if you walk in ill-prepared.

So make a list!   Make a list of the meds you are currently on and every thing you know about them.  Explain why you want to reduce or eliminate the drug and if you are med reducing period state that you are not looking to replace it.

Secondly, talk to your therapist about what you are about to do.  Ask him or her if they are willing to support your decision.  Explain that you have a plan and discuss your plan with them, also discuss your med list with them! (If you do not have a therapist, I do not suggest on embarking on elimination of medication.  You will need a therapist – so go and find one!)

So the list, what to include:

Take for instance Topamax — Topamax is prescribed as a mood stabilizer to individuals who suffer from bipolar depression, but is actually an anti-seizure medication, so what does that mean?  Topamax blocks certain chemicals and promotes production of GABA, which regulates neuronal excitability throughout the entire nervous system.  Basically it smooths out the nervous system.  The side effects are: Sleepiness, pins and needle effect usually in the arms or legs, carbonated drinks no longer taste very good, weight loss, memory loss (sometimes severe cognitive impairment).

Find out what the half-life is and how long it takes to get out of your system, as well as how you should stop taking the medication.

Again, lets take Topamax.  The half life for Topamax is approximatiely 24 hours.  So every 24 hours half of the Topamax is gone from your system.  It is recommended the you reduce Topamax by 25 – 50 mg per week until you reduce down to nothing.

Knowing this information shows that you are taking responsibility for your own welfare, that you are not being haste, and that you understand this is not an overnight process.



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