The most common treatment for bipolar is Lithium (used as the base and combined with anti-psychotics, etc). I always think of it as just being salt. But there is a lot to lithium and how our levels need to be spot on. I now go for bloodwork monthly rather than every six months because my lithium levels were slipping.
The medication itself can cause a number of side effects:
- Weight gain
- Impaired memory
- Poor concentration
- Muscle weakness
- Hair loss or acne
- Thyroid problems
- Sudden death
I have most of these side effects. I take propronolonol for the tremors and magnesium for the vomiting. It is a terrible cycle of side effect = more medications. In total, I am on 9 different meds. But lithium is the most important.
I’m not going to lie, the sudden death one has me a little freaked out.
Over the years, I have had a really tough time with weight gain. So much so that I have come off my meds without telling anyone. It usually takes a week before my partner notices and trots me back to the Dr for a stern lecture about the importance of being medicated.
It is next to impossible for a bipolar to obtain life insurance in Canada due to the fact that a) we have manic and depressive episodes and b) we are on lithium. I personally have been denied by three companies alone.