Can I Be Sure it's BP II? & Lithium
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Q:  Can I Be Sure it's BP II? & Lithium 

I was just diagnosed with Bipolar II and put on 900 mg of Lithium.  The diagnosis was based on a few meetings with a psychiatrist.  I talked about my frequent and sometimes severe insomnia,  my inability to concentrate on reading materials due to my mind racing off into new directions, and my rapid swings from depression to euphoria.  I was previously on Wellbutrin for depression, which had some positive effect in alleviating the depression, but the elevated state I found myself in alos made concentration and focusing and therefore productive work difficult. In addition, the obsessive thoughts that accompanied my depression lessened some, but not as much as I would like.

In any case, based on some research I've done, I accepted his diagnosis without too much doubt or resistance.  But the boundaries of Bipolar II seem to be quite nebulous-how can I be sure that this is really what I have?  What should I notice with Lithium, and how soon, before I can tell whether it is having some positive effect.

I'm a 35 year old prefessional female in good physical health.

Thank you

Dear Mary -- 
Unfortunately, you're definitely right about the nebulous boundaries.  Try the section on diagnosis and diagnosis details on my
site about BPII.  Lithium should make things seem less "swinging", if you will; it's supposed to land you roughly in the middle of your swings, stop the swings, and protect you against subsequent swings.  Takes about 3-7 days to know if something's going to happen, once you hit the sufficient dose (per the guidelines of your doctor; careful about going up, and follow directions) -- which we don't know in advance.  

Dr. Phelps

Published November, 2001


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