Med w/o Weight Gain for Me?
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Q:  Med w/o Weight Gain for Me?

Dr. Jim,

I was diagnosed as manic 7 yrs. ago and currently have been taking Lithium Carbonate in 300 mg. capsules & am supposed to take 900 mg. daily.  I have been taking only 300 mg. daily for at least 3 yrs. and this seems to work for me....if I take the prescribed 900 mg. I get tremors & can't even write my name. My question is this - Since I started Lithim & also quit smoking (6 yrs. ago) my 5' 4" frame has gone from 120lbs. to 160lbs.  Isn't there another drug that doesn't have the "weight gain" side effect. I'm 51 yrs. old & also beginning to go through menopause.

Thank you,

Dear Jeanne -- 
If your weight is still going up even at 300 mg only, which would be unusual but not impossible, you should ask your doc' about switching (by first adding an alternative that doesn't cause weight gain).  Check out Trileptal and lamotrigine; but understand that these have less "mileage" on them in terms of the kind of protection you're apparently getting from extremely low doses of lithium (so careful not to throw away a good thing for an unknown thing -- unless it's pretty clear that lithium itself is the basis of continued weight gain (and that would be a little tricky to figure out, wouldn't it?)). 

Also ask your doc' what your thyroid status is, particularly after all this time on lithium, which can lower thyroid levels.  There's some new information on thyroid to follow, as well.  

Dr. Phelps

Published May, 2002 

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