My question is do bipolar people have to change their meds after a period of time. It feels like my meds just stopped being effective lately and I am about to turn 50. and no I had a hysterectomy 3 years ago. I take effexor xr and lithium.
My reading comprehension is low, my ability to learn quickly has slowed, my concentration and focus, cannot multi-task, deep depression, no enthusiasm…

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This is a very good question.  I can speak from personal experience and what has happened with me and medication changes.  However, I do believe there are times when a person had to add a medication, delete a medication or change dosages to what they are prescribed.  This can happen for a myriad of reasons.

When I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I was prescribed just Lithium.  The psychiatrist kept changing the dosages trying to figure out what was best for me.  At that time I was very small and thin.  And when I was just on Lithium it kept me in a permanent state of depression so I often took an anti-depressant to stay out of the lows.  I did not have my first psychotic break until I was twenty-three.  Of course, at that time, a new medication was added to keep the hallucinations at bay.  All medications come with side effects and that one sure did.  I had what they call Tardive Dyskinesia from the anti-psychotic medication.  Another medication was added to stave off that side effect.

I was on that medication regimen until I was 25 and then things slowly stopped working.  I decided at this point it was also best if I found a new psychiatrist to do my medications.  This particular doctor started me all over again.  I can’t say it was the best thing but I let him do it.  So, yes he changed my medications.

In 1996 I married my husband and I was very stable at twenty-seven-years old.  I had three children in three and a half years.  I had the first baby at thirty-years-old.  I did quite well with no medications while pregnant and nursing.  However, after I had our last child I crashed and hit the bottom pretty hard!  I went back to the psychiatrist and resumed taking medications.  However, I noticed that the medications I needed were different and required much higher doses.  It’s obvious that childbirth and nursing can really change the body of a woman that has mental illness.

As time went on it was obvious my prescription doses needed adjusting.  I am not sure if it’s because my body was getting older or what exactly was going on. This would be a situation where new medications or new dosages should be added.  I started to gain some weight and I had new insurance so I went to see a new medication provider.  We decided to add a new medication and adjust another medication.  The addition of the new medication worked well.

As time goes on, it is obvious that our bodies do change.  We gain weight, we lose weight, and other changes, especially in women, take place.  I also believe that it’s possible for the chemical pathways to change in our brains.  These would be situations where medications need to be added or adjusted.

If you have a medication provider who is wanting to change medications and dosages on a regular basis could be cause for caution.  If you are stable and feeling good and your mood swings aren’t too severe then your medications should be left alone.  I had a doctor who changed medications a lot.  I finally asked him why and he got upset with me.  No provider should get upset if you ask why.  It’s your body and you have a right to know everything that is going on with your diagnosis and treatment.

So, yes I do believe that people with Bipolar Disorder will require medication changes from time to time.  It all depends upon the person and their physical being and what is taking place inside their bodies.

Be sure and educate yourself on the medications you ingest.  Know the names of your meds, what they are for, and why you are taking them.

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