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Old 03-17-2010, 01:29 PM   #1
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Question Has anyone stopped taking lithium?

I was put on lithium over 25 years ago for bipolar disorder. The dosage was lowered after the first several years, and I continued to take it until the fall of last year when I had a kidney removed because of a rare form of renal cell carcinoma. My remaining kidney could not filter the lithium and it became toxic. Under my doctor's order, I stopped taking it. I have not been given any other rx to replace it, and I am feeling fine except I get irritated extremely easy. Has anyone stopped taking it and did you have any side effects? I am somewhat concerned about my short temper. My doctor doesn't feel I need to take anything else to replace the lithium. Thanks in advance for any responses.

 
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Old 03-18-2010, 09:54 AM   #2
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Re: Has anyone stopped taking lithium?

This did not happen to me personally, but my grandmother has Seasonal Affective/Bipolar disorder. This past summer, she took herself off of her Lithium and reverted back to SERIOUS manic/depressive spells. Our whole family knew something was wrong, but she refused to go back onto medication because she didn't like the way it made her feel. Once she hit the bottom of her depressive cycle, she started back in on the meds.

So, point of the story, just keep making sure you are honest with yourself about what you are feeling, and make sure you are honest with your doctor. Good luck on your treatment! You seem to be well aware of yourself, keep it up!

 
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Old 03-19-2010, 08:21 AM   #3
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Re: Has anyone stopped taking lithium?

Quote:
Originally Posted by grayfox View Post
I was put on lithium over 25 years ago for bipolar disorder. The dosage was lowered after the first several years, and I continued to take it until the fall of last year when I had a kidney removed because of a rare form of renal cell carcinoma. My remaining kidney could not filter the lithium and it became toxic. Under my doctor's order, I stopped taking it. I have not been given any other rx to replace it, and I am feeling fine except I get irritated extremely easy. Has anyone stopped taking it and did you have any side effects? I am somewhat concerned about my short temper. My doctor doesn't feel I need to take anything else to replace the lithium. Thanks in advance for any responses.
I've been on lithium successfully for 30 years except now I've tested positive for med-induced lupus which they say may be caused by the lithium. Last year, as I have been stable for a long time, They took me off lithium but I began to go manic in 3 weeks. I have 3 different doctors discussing this as I am on low levels. I truely do not want to be put on anti-seizure med or atypical anti-psychotics. As the lupus only seems to flare occasionally, I'm hoping not to have to decide. Please tell me what you end up doing about this similar problem.

 
Old 03-19-2010, 08:48 AM   #4
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Re: Has anyone stopped taking lithium?

I have been taking lithium successfully since 1980, but last year I tested positive for an autoimmune disorder. I was removed from lithium on the theory that I was recovered. My mania cam back withint three weeks. I have since had two more potitive progressive tested for what they think might be med-induced lupus - a lithium is on of the 100 meds on that list.
As this is very near my 30th anniversary of my first hositalization, I seem to be having a flare of both illnesses. I have three doctors discussing what should ne done. I really don't want to give up lithium or be put on an anti-seizure or anti-psychotic med. I not sure which I'd pick it it can down to my life or the quality of my life. Lithium is a naturally occurring metal that everyone has in their body to begin with depedning upon where you live. Their are no withdrawls, but you loss your mood protection. I lost mine fast.

Last edited by hb-mod; 03-23-2010 at 06:52 AM. Reason: Removed Quote of immediately preceding post. Please use "Quick" Reply rather than "Quote" Reply. Thanks!

 
Old 03-22-2010, 11:21 AM   #5
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Smile Re: Has anyone stopped taking lithium?

CSsister and hope7951: Thanks so much for your responses. I really appreciate the information you gave me. It is a scary situation, deciding whether or not to stop taking a drug that has controlled your symptoms for over twenty-five or thirty years. I worry that I will become manic again. So far, I haven't experienced any extreme highs or lows, and I hope that will continue. I don't want to be put on mood stabilizers either. There are too many side effects that I am not willing to chance. Take care and keep us informed of your progress. We need to stay positive and focused.

 
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Old 03-23-2010, 06:15 AM   #6
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Re: Has anyone stopped taking lithium?

I can't do it without a mood stabilizer. In 1996 my psychiatrist took me down to 450mg CR for mainetence whic is a low dose that made all side effects stops. If you are still at a high dose perhaps you can do well at a lower dose that is still therapuetic.

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Old 10-12-2011, 01:07 AM   #7
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Re: Has anyone stopped taking lithium?

Hi
I am interested in your story and how you progress as I have just come off Lithium myself ( 2 weeks ago ) I always worry about the toxicity of it and damage it can do to internal organs. I have never heard of medication induced Lupus but thats another thought.
I have been taking Lithium for years, along with Prozac, the combination seems to have sort of worked for me but I still suffer dramatic depressive periods and have never wanted to change the Lithium to an Anti Psychotic as sometimes has been suggested.
My levels on it probably were on the low side, confirmed by blood tests but I was reluctant to increase it and never quite took it regularly as I always had some sort of mental blockage with the drug and found it difficult to take before bed when I was tired and would forget.
When I have come off it before I have dipped into serious depression over time and returned to taking it thinking I needed it in my system to live a 'normalish' life but as I get these episodes anyway I always wonder and hope I can manage without it as some 'celebrities' who have bi polar do.
I am biploar 2 so dont go completely manic when just taking prozac I just feel good and better and more myself.( I know the contra indications of taking prozac alone with bi polar )
It has been said I am in denial of my bi polar which could be true as I have always wondered if I just have chronic depression. My mother suffered from depression and my father too and is possibly bi polar 2 although never taken any medication for it and was never assessed.
I would really love to be able to manage withouth Lithium but do accept that if my health deteriates to the point of me getting so low I am a concern to myself or my mood is very distressing for my family I will regretfully have to go back on it.
Please let me know how you get on, perhaps we can share the journey together.
Best Wishes x

 
Old 12-21-2011, 12:43 AM   #8
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Re: Has anyone stopped taking lithium?

I'm bipolar II. Twelve years ago I was put on 800 mg of lithium per day. I'm seasonal and it stopped me thinking about killing myself 24/7 for six months of every year. It didn't take any of the other depressive symptoms away, caused cognitive blunting and memory problems, and hit my thyroid gland within three months of starting it. I'm considered disabled because of the severity of my depressive periods.

Last year I was worried about the effects on my kidneys after such longterm use and agreed with my pdoc to lower the dose to 600 mg p/d once I came out of my last depressive period. I soon felt like myself again. My head cleared of all that cotton wool for the first time since taking the drug. I became sociable again. My friends were delighted. I started to make promises to do all the kinds of academic and creative things I used to be able to do. It was six months of heaven.

Then, when it was time for me to go into depression again, I crashed so low that I considered booking myself into the local asylum. All the suicidal thoughts were back and I was even worse than I'd been before lithium.

I started taking 800 mg again but it took a long time to have any effect. It was six months of relentless Hell. So now I no longer think of reducing my dose. I'm terrified of having to go back to those depths again.

This 'up' time was muted. I was full of guilt and shame about letting so many people down. No one understands what this illness is like unless they have it, so I'm paralysed when it comes to trying to explain why I behave the way I do.

So what I'm trying to say is that unless you have a really good reason to come off lithium, like a serious medical problem or a change to another kind of med, please think very carefully about it. I completely understand the temptation - I'd do anything to be able to have my old self back, but not at the cost of what I'd have to endure to be that person again.

I'm coming down again now. I only hope that the lithium will work as it did in the past. It makes life just about worth living. It's not much, but is enough for me.

 
Old 01-08-2012, 05:51 PM   #9
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Re: Has anyone stopped taking lithium?

Hi,

I have Bipolar I Disorder, Most Recent Episode Mixed, In Full Remission. I usually get mixed states with dysphoria/irritibility combined with some hypomanic features and none of the feel-good ones and have had one manic episode. I generally do not have depressive only episodes and my BPD is very co-morbid with Generalized Anxiety and Panic Attacks and my remission is super dependent upon refraining from polysubstance abuse.

I credit Lithium for saving my life and have been on 900 mg since November 2005--it was the only thing that helped stop a manic episode induced by Lexapro which is what got me diagnosed.

I have had a lot of side effects from it, but taken it anyway (my hair falls out EVERYWHERE, dehydration to the point that I will vomit after taking the pill violently, tremors (can't take a non-blurry photo), and now it has appeared to cause thyroiditis resulting in hyperthyroidism.

I'm discontinuing Lithium GRADUALLY, as decided by my psychiatrist and I after discussing with my endocrinologist also, as of this Friday. I am starting with 600 mg and when I see my doctor in one month if everything is OK, down to 300 mg and then when I see him again in another month provided things are still OK, no more Lithium. It'll be less of a shock to my body to go super slowly since I've been on it for 7 years and also, if things don't go well, I won't totally lose my blood level and can start back on the Lithium I have immediately at my old dosage (blood levels often take 10-14 days to deplete or rebuild).

It's only been a few days, but so far, so good. I am also taking Abilify (2.5 mg) to treat Bipolar depression and Depakote (500 mg) specifically for mixed states, but it should help keep mania away also hopefully. I will keep you posted! I urge anyone considering this to work closely with their doctor and follow their directions exactly to avoid relapse, as it is risky enough either way.

I'm also keeping a mood chart (the LCM S/P from NIMH) to help monitor changes in my mood during this time

 
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