Every person that has been diagnosed with bipolar has had to wrestle with this question before:
Should I stop taking my bipolar meds?
I have been diagnosed with bipolar for over 20 years but it wasn’t until 3 years ago that I accepted the diagnosis and started taking meds. In that 3 years my moods were smoothed out and I haven’t had a severe episode of mania or depression. (although I have felt flat) I feel fine and because of that, I wonder if I need the meds anymore. (ha ha sorry, bipolar doesn’t go away)
Here are some reasons why people stop their meds: (polled from support group)
- I just can’t seem to accept the whole diagnosis thing, starting and stopping the meds is one way to prove the diagnosis.
- I didn’t believe the diagnosis, and I was devastated that I couldn’t have a child while on them.
- I think the pills are making me gain weight
- feeling that I’m “less than” because I have to rely on all these meds
- I’m feeling fine now, why do I need them?
- I didn’t want to see the doctor and get a refill, so I skipped out for a few months
- I fought taking meds and learning about the illness because I just didn’t want to believe I needed them.
Stopping meds abruptly can be dangerous
The anti-psychotic meds and mood stabilizers work on nerves in the brain. Stopping them could cause a manic episode or brain dysfunction. Also, every time you have an episode it does some damage to the brain. The meds may cease to work if started again.
If you do want to stop, you should ease off of them slowly by reducing the dosage. Never go cold turkey and shock your system.
But I feel fine now
For me, I lived for 40 years without meds and it has been a roller-coaster ride with bouts of mania and depression. I also thought about suicide a couple of times.
Now, with meds for 3 years, I have been fine. Being fine means the meds are working. It doesn’t mean that the bipolar went away and thus I don’t need the meds anymore. (faulty logic)
The reality of the situation is that bipolar doesn’t go away. The meds may not take away all of the symptoms but the severe mania and crushing depression have been kept at bay. I have had low spots and high spots but the waves were mild.