Ask Dr. Tim: I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder several years ago…

Ask Dr. Tim: I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder several years ago…


I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder several years ago. At first, I took the recommend medication (lithium). Everyone around me says it helped my moodiness and erratic behavior, but I didn’t like how it made me feel. I felt kind of flat and I gained some weight. My husband thinks I should go back to my doctor and start the medication again. What do you think?




Dear Susan:

I am afraid I may need to side with your husband on this. I do know people who experience bipolar disorder that are doing ok without medication. However most people who don’t use their medication falter. Those who do well without medication have a couple of things in common. First, remember that like most things in life, there are degrees of the bipolar phenomenon. Some people have what might be considered a “mild” case while others are more “moderate” or “severe” in their presentation. Those not taking medication tend to have a “mild to moderate” degree of bipolar. Second, these people also tend to work with a trusted psychotherapist to help them find the “middle of life” again. Third, stress is a major factor in this disease. Learning and practicing good stress management techniques is vital.

So, unless you: 1. Have a clinically defined mild case of bipolar, 2. You are already working with a good psychotherapist and, 3. You consistently manage your stress…you may want to at least consult with that doctor of yours. If you had diabetes I hope you would do the same.

Dr. Tim

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