Q:  Going On and Off Meds

HI Doctor Phelps,  I wondered how common it was for people with bipolar II to go on and off medications?  I have been doing so for years and even after 10 years I persist in trying to dose down or drop off my meds.  My latest attempt I have called "Escape to Sanity"; meaning that I might escape from the insanity that is my life by getting off these meds.  I am tired of being fat, lazy, stupid and marginally employed.  Unfortunately, this last attempt has been cut short by transitory attacks of anxiety and the feeling that I am literally falling apart.

Dr. Mr O' -- 
Yep, it's common, for the same reasons you cite.  I'd recommend, even now, as your symptoms are "already there", discussing with your provider what I hope would be a different approach: starting again from scratch with one mood stabilizer at a time, lowering the dose each time you run into a side effect, then adding another mood stabilizer.  You might end up on three, but if with no side effects, you'd not have the reason to stop that you describe.  Here's my guess: your medications have almost always included an antidepressant -- which could increase your need for mood stabilizers to control the cycling induced by the antidepressant, leading to a med' load that's enough for you to say "enough"!   Is that not so?  

Dr. Phelps

Published June, 2001