Is Ritalin Somehow Effective in Treating Bipolar?
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 Q:  Is Ritalin Somehow Effective in Treating Bipolar?

Dear Dr. Phelps,

I have Bipolar I with mixed episodes, rapid cycling and psychosis for 16 years and ADHD.  Can you please tell me why when I take my Ritalin it is the only time I am symptom free from all my episodes and can think normally?  The only down side is that the Ritalin wears off and kind of gives you a crash.  Is Ritalin somehow effective in treating Bipolar? 

Thank you,

Dear Lisa --
Interesting observation.  As far as I know, this has not been reported. People to think of things like this.  There is a paper reporting that antidepressants sometimes seem to act like mood stabilizers in bipolar II (Parker). But I have not heard of anyone claiming that a stimulant could treat bipolar symptoms. 

On the other hand, I do have patients who find that stimulants can help pull things together.  But not all the way to "symptom-free".  I must confess that I worry about the long-term effects of this particular strategy, as you may also.  On the other hand, it is hard to argue with success.  I hope that you and your doctor are able to find a solid solution one way or another.  Good luck with the process -- 

Dr. Phelps


Published April, 2010


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