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Readers Respond: Good Experiences from Stopping or Decreasing Meds

Responses: 18

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Updated October 09, 2008

Most people who stop taking medications have bad effects. Did you do this and find yourself feeling better? Did you consult your doctor first? Share your good experiences.

off meds

I've been diagnosed with bipolar Nos 11 years ago. I went off all my psycho tropic drugs on April 1st because I fell I'll and ended up in emergency, then admitted for abdominal pains. They cold turkey me off everything and since then been off of them till today. I've never felt more alive, happier, and actually know why I feel sad, happy, or, mad. Not like before I was just unemotional, and numb to the world.. my doc is closely watching over me, as well as my family. They don't agree with me going off, but I've never felt better in 11 years. My doc said I will eventually crash and burn, but so far so good. I'm finally alive again!
—Guest karen

Good Experience - Stopping Meds

I'm BP1 and recently stopped taking my meds. First I went off my mood stabilizers about 2 months ago then the rest over the past 3 weeks. So far I have been stable, more productive, happier, and feeling alive. I found my strong mixture of meds had me depressed and feeling like a zombie.
—Guest Elin

Off the meds...feel great

I've been off my meds for several months and my happiness level is an 11! I am more social, I sleep better and things don't upset me as much. I wish I stopped them along time ago. The only bad thing is that I've gained a ton of weight all at once. So while some might lose weight off the meds, you can gain weight. Still, despite being heavier than I have been in years I'm thrilled!
—Guest zorro

Still Going Strong

I responded to this topic a while ago, saying I went off meds and was doing fine. Well, I'm still med free, and doing better by the day. A while back, I was getting very ill, and I kept sweating. They put me through tests and learned I have a tumor on my liver. I think it's from the meds. Now I have to get an operation to get rid of the tumor. That's the bad news. The good new is I find myself interacting with people better, I remember things, I sleep and eat less, we have our love life back, and I'm writing again! I'm even making arrangements to take a writing course! I resumed my relationship with my sister this past year, and it's so gratifying to hear her say I sound great! What's not to like? I am still pro-active, and go to therapy every week, and I see my psych nurse once a month. If I begin to feel overwhelmed, or realize I'm getting what I call "unreasonable", I slow down and stay close to home until I even out again. I feel so "in control". I LOVE this!
—Guest Anniem

Just got tired of it

I have a bad habit of forgetting to take my medications. I was on Depakote and some other medication. When i would forget to take it i would forget for days not just once. My moodswings would come back and Id fall into a deep depression and continue to take the meds. So i always thought i would be on meds my whole life. Well one day i just realized i dont want to be controlled by a damn drug. I want to smile because im happy not because i am drugged. I stopped cold turkey, stopped seeing my doctor. Ive been drug free for maybe 2 two months now and i feel better. Im guessing My depression and mood swings didnt come back because i actually wanted to make a change for the better not because i forgot to take my daily doses. Its weird how things work. Will power screw drugs
—Guest Jessica

Anxiety or Bi-polar?

I was diagnosed 1997 as bipolar but my doctor only treated the anxiety. By 2007 it went so far out of control I couldn't work. The short term disability insurance refused to cover my disability. Not until I was diagnosed again as bipolar did short term disability agree to pay. By that time it was too late. I had no money, therefore no meds. The good news is the anxiety went away, for about a year when I had to stop taking meds do to the lack of money.
—cqui

The good and the bad... no ugly yet

I got off my meds 3 months ago to try to conceive. After no luck, that plan is on hold so I can get back on them & combat the mania that crept up on me. Despite that, it's been a better experience than I expected. For one, I'm primarily depressed so it was a nice surprise I didn't instantly crash into it. After being so "up," I had the inevitable thoughts of, "What if I'm not really bipolar?" or, "What if my illness was just a test, & now that I beat it I can live without it?" When I finally realized I was manic I saw those thoughts for what they were: wishful manic thinking. But I did realize something life-changing. I've always pined for the person I could never be, who would exist if I weren't bipolar, who I could find if I'd just get stable & stay there. But I realized there is no "middle me," no one woman that exists underneath it all. I am me, the highs and the lows and all the in-between. For the first time I can accept this, and I'll do what I can to protect myself—meds all.
—Guest ChiO1881

I'm in the process

I've never been convinced I was accurately diagnosed. I believe I am prone to depression, but I never had any type of mania until a doctor prescribed Lexapro. After about six months, I was a wreck. I was hypomanic, paranoid, sleepless, and anxiety-ridden. It took a couple of years and many medication changes, but I eventually leveled out. I take lithium, EMSAM, and lamictal. I have been frequently depressed, sluggish, and chronically stupid. I told my doctor I was going to pare down my meds--possibly to nothing. He laughed out loud and then said, "You have my number if it goes wrong." In the first month, I've lost nine pounds, and my mood has lifted considerably. My husband is in charge of telling me if I seem to be going too far up or down or irritable. So far, so good. My plan is to just keep cutting back on meds until I'm taking very little--or nothing. It's only been a month, but this is the best I've felt in a long, long time.
—GlindaNorth

Good to stop the WRONG medication

So I was on Depakote for about a year. I gained 20 lbs and my hair fell out. Turns out at my last blood test, my levels were way too high. I stopped cold turkey. I didn't want to be bald, fat, AND depressed. A month after I stopped it, I was back to my normal weight. It took a year for the hair to grow back in that bald spot. Bad thing: after 2 years, I plummeted into a suicidal depression after not being on any medication at all. After trial and error, I found the perfect cocktail for me. I've been stable now for almost 7 years.
—Guest CS

It's nice not being constipated

I was told to go off topamax b/c I couldn't even remember how to turn on my car lights. Then I decided to slowly go off the rest of my meds. I am sleeping fine and my moods have been even. I read more and eat less. And it's really nice not being constipated.
—Guest Anniem

Stopping Meds Great Most of the Time

I prefer the meds only in a crisis, or winter, approach. I don't take mood stabilisers in summer, only in winter when i get seriously seriously depressed. my mania gets fairly severe in summer but i like that, and if it gets out of hand, i will take a few days of trileptal to get the latest episode under control. i always take plenty of benzos, and those work to control mania, so i'm not entirely unmedicated. but being on nothing but benzos daily and ambien as needed for sleep works well for me (in my opinion, not in the opinion of others who don't feel the pleasure of mania) much of the year. i hate being doped up on non-fun drugs unless i've had a severe episode, when i like it b/c i feel like i actually need it then.
—Guest Benzodiazequeen

No more meds.

I was diagnosed with BP when I was 16. I had depressive episodes since an early age but had my first manic episode at 16 leading to the BP dx. I was on antidepressents since I was 13 and with the BP came more meds. I struggled with BP for years and went through different combinations of meds and illicit drug use. A year ago I went for treatment for my illicit drug abuse. The program I attended changed my life and I stopped taking my meds around the same time. I have been without meds for about a year now and have been stable. I still experience changes in mood but I recognize red flags and am able to prevent my moods from getting out of control. I still see a therapist and watch how I am thinking, behaving, and dealing with moods to stay balanced. I no longer feel controlled by my meds or like a zombie. I keep a schedule and exercise and I love it. For me, it is mostly being aware of red flags and my thoughts to control my mood. I learned to stop myself from getting out of control.
—kavik37

In remission for almost 3 years

I was diganosed with Bipolar I disorder, ultradian rapid cycles and mixed states back in 1994. I was hospitalized 9 times in 12 years and ran the gamut of meds from Lithium to Lamictal. Geodon, Zyprexa, Depakote, Tripleptal, Tegretol, etc. In the 12 years I was on medication I NEVER went off my meds! The meds. helped me get through college and let me be able to work about 10 hours a week. I was on Disability for the Bipolar Disorder. It got to the point where my liver levels were too high to get therapeutic doses on my meds and my pdoc suggested vagus nerve stimulation or ECT. As a sign-language interpreter, those were not an option. I had a friend with the dx of Bipolar I disorder who had gotten off his meds with the help of a neurologist and the book "The Omega-3 Connection". My pdoc and I decided to give it a try and I went into the hospital for 9 days to wean off meds. It worked! I have been "in remission" going on 3 years Feb. 12, 2009. I am thrilled!
—BrilliantMadness

med free for 18mths

Wanted to share that you can be med free! im not a zombie anymore and ive lost 87lbs, not to mention i can function much better. I have learned my triggers and keep an eye on them. I feel like the me inside finally and I am happy, not manic, just happy. Its great! Good luck!!!
—Guest Tazz

Good Experiences When People Stop Meds

I am glad that other people have had success with stopping meds as I did. I haven't been on any since 1989 (I took Lithium at that time for 6 months). I did a great deal of reading about the condition and have been able to handle symptoms cognitively since (I also attend a 12 Step Program which has developed a spiritual way of looking at life). This has worked for me.
—Guest Joyce

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