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February 22nd, 2011
09:07 AM ET

Can antidepressants jump-start bipolar disorder?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Tuesdays, it's Dr. Charles Raison, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, and an expert in the mind-body connection for health.

Asked by Michelle, Michigan

I had an untreated health issue for a couple of years that threw me into a mild depression. I have a mother and brother who are bipolar and one of the things my therapist told me is that studies show that if you go on an antidepressant and there is a history of bipolar in your family that this can sometimes "kick in" the bipolar. I am lucky and was able to get past my depression with therapy, exercise, etc. I was just wondering what your thoughts were.Expert answer

Dear Michelle,

I've got a lot of thoughts about your question, and they are all confused! In this way I am much like the field of psychiatry as a whole. Ten years ago I would have told you that what you'd heard was absolutely correct and that people with bipolar disorder should avoid antidepressants because of the risk these medications pose in terms of making vulnerable people manic.

I still mostly believe this, but a number of large studies done over the last five years do not do much to confirm the idea that antidepressants are dangerous for people with - or at risk for - bipolar disorder. In these studies, people with bipolar disorder seem able to take antidepressants and not "go manic" at any higher rate than they would have naturally.

On the other hand, anyone who has practiced psychiatry for any time at all can tell you stories of people like yourself with a bipolar family history who went manic soon after going on an antidepressant for the first time. So what's the truth? We just don't know.

In fact, we don't even know whether antidepressants help people with bipolar disorder who get depressed. It's interesting. Studies done on the East Coast of the United States tend to find that antidepressants do not help, whereas studies done on the West Coast suggest that they are of tremendous benefit. What's the truth? We just don't know yet.

There are a few things I think we can say with at least a little certainty. First, we know that people from families with bipolar disorder are twice as likely to have "regular old" depression than to have classic bipolar disorder. Like everyone else, these folks should have their depression treated as rapidly and completely as possible, and antidepressants are often hugely useful in accomplishing this. On the other hand, there is at least some evidence that people with family histories like yours may be at an increased risk of having a manic episode on an antidepressant. This wouldn't stop me from using one, but I'd watch with extra caution. The good news is that you tapped into other well documented antidepressant strategies, including exercise and psychotherapy.


soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. LEB

    Over the past 10+ years or so (I'm currently 30), I've been diagnosed with general depression, generalized anxiety disorder, dysthymia, and mild bipolar 2. I've been on Prozac, Paxil, Effexor, Lexapro, Lamitrogine, Carbamezapine, Adderall, Prestiq, Trazadone, and Adderall and Lamitrogine again, in that order. Most were for 6 months or less. At this point I honestly don't know what my situation could be labeled, or whether it's any or all of the above... all I know is that something about my brain chemistry is a bit "off" from a normal functioning adult, and always has been.

    Right now, the combination of Adderall and Lamitrogine has made me feel more "normal" than at any other point in my life since adolescence. Whether this normalcy achieved by a drug used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy combined with a drug to treat bipolar disorder means that I have bipolar disorder or ADHD or both, I honestly have no idea, but the possibility that any or all of those past antidepressants might have contributed to my current state (when not under treatment, that is) is a little unsettling. But any information on the topic is useful information, whether it's valid or should be dismissed. I certainly appreciate it.

    February 22, 2011 at 09:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • followup

      There are two basic contrasting schools of thought about what is behind emotional disregulation. The mainstream thinking is that there is pre-existing chemical imbalance that modifies emotion and behavior in a negative way; hence, the notion that treatment with drugs that change brain chemistry is in order. Unfortunately brain chemistry testing seems never to be attempted in order to identify just which chemicals are out of balance. Instead, we traditionally prescribe drugs on a guess and stand back and see what happens. If we see what we think is an overall improvement (sometimes we see the opposite) then we tend to think this theory of pre-existing chemical imbalance to be somehow supported, albeit in a way we can't explain, identify, or quantify.

      Alternately it may be that IF chemicals are the things to be addressed, chemical imbalance could be a result of how we think and feel, rather than [just] the cause of it. If this is that case, counseling or psychotherapy, exercise, diet, and changing the way we think would stand to be more to the point and potentially most effective.

      February 22, 2011 at 15:18 | Report abuse |
    • CC

      I truly believe there are people who need to be on medication for mental health issues, and I sincerely respect those who have the courage to fight their illness. It's not easy by any stretch of the imagination. I've been there and I know it. But I feel my depression medication made me spin out of control and caused me to go through a manic phase. For me, going to therapy and dealing with the real problems helped me the most. Once the demons were gone I was able to move on. But each person is different.

      February 22, 2011 at 20:08 | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      @CC - I do agree with you that each person is different... and at different points in their lives. When I was 23, Effexor worked a minor miracle for me. Something about it permanently changed me for the better. But when I tried it again several years later, it was horrible. I felt drugged and sluggish, and gave it up right away. in the past year I tried Pristiq (a "relative" of Effexor), and it actually made me worse!

      Although having a "label" for your condition seems like a necessity, at this point in my life I don't care what category I fall into. Feeling normal is all that I want, as does anyone who deals with mental illness. I don't feel ashamed or like there's any sort of stigma attached to me, I just have a health condition that needs management, and I *actively* manage it to the best of my ability. When it's managed well, like right now, I feel great. All I want to say to those who have chronic mental illness is this... don't give up, keep searching for what works for YOU. Medication, therapy, diet and exercise - whatever the solution is that makes you feel better, keep pursing options until you find it. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

      February 22, 2011 at 21:12 | Report abuse |
    • Twin Girl

      Greetings LEB,
      Hallelujah and I can only hope that I am reaching the correct party whose story in 2/2011 reads just like mine!!! If it is at all possible could you contact me at mels974@gmail.com. I would love to converse with the person who appears to be wired as I am. It would be fabulous to share notes with someone who went thru hoops to find what works!!! I am very happy for you!!! Twin Girl

      November 1, 2012 at 16:33 | Report abuse |
  2. kritterkat

    I don't understand how the antidepressants are blamed for turning on a bipolar switch. If you are depressed, you already have half the symptoms of bipolar disorder already. Who's to say the antidepressants are bringing on the mania, and it's not just a naturally occurring mania that was inevitable anyway? That's like saying you have a family history of cancer, you drink diet soda, you get cancer, and you blame the soda.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sealchan

      The human body is a great big, finely-tuned and incredibly, naturally, self-correcting biochemical soup. When you introduce a biochemical such as an anti-depressant medication you are basically steering that massive biochemical system as if it had a single steering wheel that had a simple impact...however, that is not the case. Not only does one medication have several potential benefits, it has as many side-effects. No one in the Western medical profession, or any profession for that matter, knows precisely the consequences for any given individual what a particular medication is actually doing in our biochemical soups to any exhaustive detail. I am not arguing against using medications only stating the profound limitations of our knowledge of the whole of the biochemistry that is going on in our bodies.

      February 22, 2011 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
    • LS

      If you're way past the age when one would typically develop Bipolar Disorder (teens and early 20's) and have never developed a hypomanic or manic episode before taking the antidepressant, then that's a huge clue that it was the antidepressant. If after stopping the antidepressant, you never again have another manic or hypomanic episode then that's also a good indication then it was just a bad reaction to the antidepressant. However, you have a point. If someone, particularly a young person, develops mania symptoms after starting an antidepressant, Bipolar Disorder should definitely be considered, but it doesn't mean the patient definitely has Bipolar Disorder.

      February 22, 2011 at 23:52 | Report abuse |
    • Intrepida

      As someone who is struggling with this as we speak, I believe that I can answer this. I have always considered myself to be depressed, and can't think of a time where I was "manic" per se, (but the more I research I'm learning that there are states of hypomania, which aren't quite full blown mania, and I have experienced this). I was put on Zoloft when I was in my early 20's and it worked amazingly well. I felt I didn't need it anymore, and without realizing it, my symptoms crept back in and I was extremely depressed by the age of 26. I had not had a manic phase in quite some time. About a week into zoloft I had a full blown mixed state manic attack that was so severe that I was hallucinating. I heard whispering and saw shadows moving that were not there. I had a tremendous amount of energy but not in a good way. I couldn't complete a sentence. I couldn't focus or sleep. I became suicidal and had to be hospitalized. I'd never been that severe before. I left the hospital and 6 months later (present time) I went back on Zoloft (because I didn't know that it was the Zoloft that had triggered the mixed state suicidal and psychotic mania) and within two days I couldn't sleep or focus, and I felt as though I was headed back to that dark place I was in before I was involuntarily committed into a psycho hospital for 6 days. There are two times in the past 26 years that I have been that insane. Both of those times occured after taking Zoloft. I haven't taken Zoloft in about 36 hours and I'm starting to calm down already. I still can't sleep and my palms are sweaty. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt this was Zoloft induced. I've never had full blown mania to the point where I am hallucinating and extremely suicidal outside of taking Zoloft. Antidepressants are dangerous drugs. The first rule: DO NO HARM. What part of me, curled up in a corner of a psychiatric hospital hearing voices and ripping at my wrists with my nails is not harmful? I came off the zoloft and I'm back to my normal self; slightly depressed, and occasionally able to pull it together and be creative and friendly...but that always subsides. AGAIN; I'VE NEVER HAD SEVERE MANIA OUTSIDE OF ZOLOFT. Be careful. We are lab rats to these people.

      March 23, 2012 at 04:22 | Report abuse |
    • qwerty

      You have no idea what these antidepressants can do to someone. I had a mild depression 17 years ago due to a stressful job. I was prescribed zoloft and two weeks later I became a rapid cycling bipolar. The last 17 years of my life have been a nightmare and I struggle day in and day out just to stay alive. Bipolar disorder is hell on earth. You never again have that feeling that everything is going to be alright. I am sure there are others who manage better with it than I do but my life is over.

      September 3, 2012 at 01:58 | Report abuse |
  3. Shauna

    I took anti-depressants twice for anxiety, both times with bad effects. The first time I was having nightly sleep paralysis, so I stopped. The second time sent me off the rails and I started drinking and smoking heavily after seven years of not doing either. I felt like I was self-destructing with no power to stop it, so I quit the drugs again.
    Now I have been diagnosed with hypo-mania, which is a form of bi-polar where you are manic, and then the sun goes down and you are really manic. Insomnia is a big problem. But it always has been. I've been told that being misdiagnosed and given anti-depressants when you are actually bi-polar can be a problem, like it was with me, but I don't know that they caused it or "triggered" it. Curious.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kritterkat

      Shauna – I've had similar problems, and for a while I though they were caused by a low-dose antidepressant I was taking. It turned out to be a hormonal imbalance. I would recommend you see an endocrinologist have have your estrogen and progesterone levels checked. If those are out-of-balance it can cause all the symptoms you are experiencing.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:54 | Report abuse |
  4. Ruth

    My mottoe is "stay away from drugs".

    February 22, 2011 at 10:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ruth

      Oops!
      Motto not mottoe.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:31 | Report abuse |
    • kritterkat

      Without the drugs my bipolar husband's life was a wreck. The drugs have saved his life.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:52 | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      I agree with kritterkat. Without medication, I would have been in an awful state and I don't know for how long..

      February 22, 2011 at 14:35 | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      Stay away from medications unless you need them. Without proper medications, my daughter might have committed suicide. With medication, she's a-ok!

      February 22, 2011 at 15:14 | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      That wouldn't work so well if you had bipolar, unfortunately. You obviously do not or you wouldn't post this.

      February 22, 2011 at 15:17 | Report abuse |
    • GatorGrrl

      These medicines gave me my life back.

      February 22, 2011 at 18:31 | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      Easy for someone who doesn't need them to say.

      February 22, 2011 at 21:13 | Report abuse |
    • Macy

      Cool story, bro. You're lucky enough to not need them. If I weren't on antidepressants, I'd be dead. Now STFU.

      February 22, 2011 at 22:03 | Report abuse |
    • me

      My exhusband went completely nuts when he went on the antidepressant prozac. I didn't know at the time he was bipolar and he went into a rage and I'd never seen him even angry after being together nearly a year. He was on different meds throught the next year, but wouldn't stay on them. Ultimately we divorced because his bipolar disorder never got controlled. I just found this past summer that 3 years after our divorce he committed suicide. Some people need drugs to make them better. I wish he could have found something that could have saved his life. He was a wonderful man and a brilliant doctor.

      February 23, 2011 at 08:33 | Report abuse |
    • Intrepida

      Good idea Ruth. Diabetics: no more insulin! Heart disease: knock it off, just snap out of it already. Um, not so much.

      March 23, 2012 at 04:30 | Report abuse |
  5. fireybuddha

    Stop taking the anti-depressants! Do you realize that doctors and pharm cos don't really know how those things work. And the #1 proven cure for depression is....exercise. Eat better, reduce stress, move some. Very few of you will need the drugs after that.

    But in our society, we like to take a pill and then keep living our lives however we wish, with no regard to consequences.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr. Mota

      Yes, Fireybuddha, we do know. Lamotrigine and valproic acid decrease the amount of glutamate which is a substance that "fire up" the brain activity and Risperdal, Abilify, Geodon and Zyprexa reduce the dopamine responsible for hallucinacions and paranoia. By the way, cocaine and Ritalin (and Adderall) boost this substance in the brain, which is necessary in normal amount. The lack of dopamine is the reason for Parkinson disease. Now, if you still have doubts ask a person with schizophrenia if he likes to have in his brain two or 3 voices arguing with eachother and to feel as if somebody is after him or the FBI has wire-taped his home?

      February 22, 2011 at 10:55 | Report abuse |
    • LB

      Spoken like someone who's never experienced severe clinical depression.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:12 | Report abuse |
    • DAWN MERKEL

      I totally agree, I had some severe depression years ago and it was due to lack of sleep, poor diet and no exercise (hormones too) I did go on a mild antidepressant for a short period of time but didn't like the side effects, I began eating healthy, exercising and getting out in the sun everyday, Sunshine is a natural source of Serotonin which is the chemical in the brain that is low during depression, I slowly came out of my depression on my own and I also believe prayer helped

      February 22, 2011 at 15:29 | Report abuse |
    • depression

      There is depression the symptom and Depression the syndrome. Depression the syndrome is due to chemical imbalances/brain disease. Depression the symptom is caused by life events and usually goes away on its own with a complete return to normal functioning. Antidepressants don't really work on the symptom but might work on the syndrome, depending on which biochemical system is out of whack. It isn't always serotonin. Right now, we can't culture Mental Illness in a petri dish to see what it will respond to so for us all, it's Medication Trials! Hope you survive them. I almost didn't and guess what, it was the SSRIs, tricyclics and MAOis that almost killed me. Be very careful about SSRIs and Bipolar I. That combination can be deadly and yes, my first SSRI use did trigger mania and later psychosis.

      February 22, 2011 at 18:08 | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      Taking a pill (or rather, two pills) helps me feel normal. I never really understood what "normal" felt like until I was 30... which means from 14 to 29 were years wasted not feeling as balanced and well as I could have. I'm thin, I exercise, and exercise helps but it's not enough. If you're a type 1 diabetic without insulin, you feel terrible. Once you adjust your insulin levels to the appropriate level, you feel better. Mental illness is no less significant than physical illness... but it is more complicated.

      February 22, 2011 at 21:16 | Report abuse |
    • Macy

      Hey, cool. Where did you graduate from medical school? Oh... wait, you don't have a medical degree? Then DON'T give out medical advice.

      February 22, 2011 at 22:05 | Report abuse |
    • LS

      You must be one of those lucky people who have never had to deal with Major Depression. If you have, you would know that someone with Major Depression can't just exercise, eat better and get better. For one, it's incredibly difficult for someone with Major Depression to go out and exercise daily without the support of a therapist or medication. If you have severe Depression, just getting out of bed and getting dressed can be a challenge. Even if someone with Major Depression can exercise everyday for a significant amount of time, they may just a deep hole, that exercise alone can't pull them out of it.

      February 23, 2011 at 00:02 | Report abuse |
    • See

      You're confusing "the blues" with a psychiatric diagnosis. If you're just "depressed" (the word being misused), then sure, distraction and less sugar and anything positive will help. The idea that a manic episode can be cured with a gym membership is silly, given that one of the symptoms is high energy. Or that whole grain goodness will pull you out of a suicidal depression.... All of these lovely nutrition choices are relatively new in the history of humans, and not everyone was walking around in a funk until the 20th century. And working in the fields didn't make you ecstatic either.

      February 23, 2011 at 09:44 | Report abuse |
    • ccjsmama

      Hi fireybuddha, after trying everything under the sun, proper nutrition, lots of exercise, vitamins and supplements, I finally gave in to trying a low dose anti-depressant because none of those things worked for me over the long hall. Yes exercise and nutrition probably helped keep me from hitting rock bottom but these things did not cure my depression. Exericise made me feel great for a couple of hours after but then I would go right back to being low. Taking celexa has helped me tremendously...

      September 29, 2011 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
  6. Martin

    My brother is bi-polar and is now the most stable he has been for as long as I can remember. He used to take anti-depressants among other drugs that other people mentioned on this comment board. He stopped taking all those drugs, moved to California and now takes only medicinal marijuana. He uses a device that eliminates the smoke, but gives him the active ingredients. He has stopped his long term hatred of others and now apologizes if he gets out of line temporarily. I do not have this problem, but after seeing how much better my brother is now, I am very in favor of using medicinal marijuana instead of the bi-polar drugs. I do feel the drugs made my brother more depressed and unstable.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sarah

      That is good for your brother 🙂 I am bipolar though and marijuana gives me way too much anxiety.

      February 22, 2011 at 14:52 | Report abuse |
  7. CHUCK

    I'VE BEEN ON THE DRUG PAXIL FOR OVER TEN YEARS. i WAS WROUGHT WITH BOUTS OF DEPRESSION PRIOR TO THE DRUG AND WHILE I DID HAVE MANIA @ TIMES IT WAS NOT TO THE EXTENT I HAVE EXPERIENCED SINCE BEING ON PAXIL. I FELT GREAT AT FIRST – NO DEPRESSION WHATSOEVER. THEN THINGS BEGAN TO CHANGE. MY HEAVING DRINKING WHICH I WAS STARTING TO GET A HANDLE ON EXPLODED INTO AN EVERYDAY HABIT. I NEED TO SMOKE POT DAILY JUST TO KEEP ME FROM MY OWN SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR. LEFT MY WIFE AND KIDS. VERY LONG STORY WITH SAD OUTCOME. I CANNOT GO OFF THIS DRUG IN FEAR OF THE CRIPPLING DEPRESSION THAT FOLLOWS WHICH I'VE EXPERIENCED BEFORE. I HAVE HEARD OF MANY CASES OF THIS HAPPENING.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hillary

      Hi Chuck,

      I have just quit Paxil after a little over the year on the drug. It kind of just stopped working for me. I was extremely scared to get off it too because of many of the withdrawl symptoms and horror stories i had read on the internent. At this point I am down to 5mg a night and i feel fine. better than fine even. if the drug is making you miserable, GET OFF OF IT! i cannot stress that enough! running has also done wonders for me. good luck chuck!!

      February 22, 2011 at 13:02 | Report abuse |
    • Csh

      Hilary is right. I've been on and off Paxil several times over the last few years – anxiety. I also got the mania the first time. After that I learned to keep the dose low. I do great on 5mg – a dose most doctors will tell you is too low to be effective. You can get off paxil by slowly reducing the dose. A little every 2 weeks. Hold off until the 'buzzing' stops and then reduce again. Takes a while, but after you get off you will be stable. You may find as I did that you don't get the mania at the lower dose.

      February 22, 2011 at 13:37 | Report abuse |
    • Jan

      paxil caused weight gain, and rash for me. I had to stop taking it. It did help me with my OCD though, but the side effects were not worth it.

      February 22, 2011 at 15:37 | Report abuse |
  8. Blake Walsh

    I am responding to the discussion about antidepressants triggering manic episodes in bipolar people. I was diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder (acute depression, mild mania) about ten years ago. Ever since then I have been taking a low dose of an antidepressant. The doctor monitoring my medication questionned me a number of times over the years about any increase in mania and seemed surprised when I always told him I was not experiencing any. I have occasional mild manic episodes, nothing serious, and feel that the consistent low dose of antidepressant medication keeps me basically very even. Thanks. Blake.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Tom

    I have suffered depression episodes off and on for practicaly my whole life. I've tried several antidepressants with mixed results. A few years back, I went to a new psychiatrist and he prescribed Effexor. Within a couple of months, I was suffering a raging manic episode which almost cost me my marriage. It was then that the psychiatrist realized I was bipolar (news to me too) and changed my drugs to those used to treat bipolar. So, yes, I CAN say that antidepressants CAN put you into a manic episode !

    February 22, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sarah

      Agreed. Upping my Prozac did the same to me.

      February 22, 2011 at 15:23 | Report abuse |
    • AMY

      I went on Celexa to treat chronic depression, and within a couple of months started rapid cycling. But, looking back, I can honestly say that the bipolar was always there, I just wasn't aware of what it was until my diagnosis.

      March 2, 2011 at 17:42 | Report abuse |
  10. Dave

    Exercise and diet of whole foods helps. The cannabis plant is the best form of medicine if need than any pill (drug) by big pharma.

    truthknowledge. com/The_System.php
    truthknowledge. com

    February 22, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave

      btw cannabis = marijuana

      February 22, 2011 at 12:27 | Report abuse |
    • kritterkat

      Diet and exercise and cannabis are better than all the pills on the market, huh? I'd love to see some real empirical evidence to prove that, not that I think any really exists. I don't understand how people who have never experienced bipolar disorder or severe depression can tell people what will work best for them.

      February 22, 2011 at 13:08 | Report abuse |
    • KeithTexas

      Most potheads think canabis cures everything.

      February 22, 2011 at 22:39 | Report abuse |
  11. Bipolar Sufferer

    Nonsense. There seem to be a large disconnect between reality and the studies. I have been treated for bipolar for the last 30 years and doctors have tried various methods to get me past my clinical depressions, including tricyclic antidepressants and prozac. Invariably, they have shot me, within a week or so, into a mania. Talk about a wrenching experience! I'll avoid antidepressants like the plague if you don't mind.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kritterkat

      My husband tried for 2 years to find a good balance of bipolar meds and antidepressants, and is now doing great. Maybe the doses were off, or maybe one or two different antidepressants didn't work for you.

      February 22, 2011 at 13:11 | Report abuse |
  12. Judith

    I have gone off anti-depressants, although they were a great help with my depression and especially a life-long tendency to be a compulsive worrier. I, too, am striving (with some success) to use natural techniques–medication and exercise– to alleviate the depression. The major side effect I had from Paxil was a sizeable weight gain. I have been told by a physician that weight gain is a major side effect of this drug and I gained close to 80 pounds while taking it. I was a much happier person on Paxil but I became concerned that this excessive weight gain would cause major damage to my overall health. How does one balance the very positive effect of an anti-depressant with the side effects? Was I better off as a fat, happy person or a normal weight worriesome, very sad one?

    February 22, 2011 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • charles s

      "Excessive worry". That kind of described me. I would worry about almost anything and everything. I started taking niacin and Vitamin C for my cholesterol. It worked good and lowered the bad and raised the good cholesterol. I have noticed that my worrying has greatly decreased. Read about it here: http://www.doctoryourself.com/niacin.html

      February 22, 2011 at 15:39 | Report abuse |
  13. voodoo

    I have been treated with antidepressants for 20+ years, for major depression. over the years the depression left and was replaced with anxiety. I have taken Prozac (turned off ALL of my feelings), Paxil (weight gain), Buspar (put me to sleep), Zoloft (made me a raving madwoman), Effexor (worked extremely well) and have been on Nefazodone for the past 8-10 yrs. It works like a charm. The point i'm trying to make is that in this field, you have to try more than one type of med. what works for john doesn't necessarily work for jane. you have to try different things to see what works for YOU the best. I completely disagree that taking antidepressants alone can turn the switch on for bipolar. I believe it can be hereditary and I also believe it can just hit you out of the blue.

    February 22, 2011 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Sammy

    I had terrible panic attack for over 20 years. I have tried all different drugs. The last one Lexapro made me spin on a downward spiral. I had thoughts of ending my life. I was just recently diagnosed with Lyme disease. This disease is associated with nuerological disorders but is not talked about or tested for unless you ask your doctor. Anxiety is the main symptom of the disease. The Western Blot is the test that identifies it.

    February 22, 2011 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Sarah

    I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder 2 years ago. Prior to that, I had been on the anti-depressant Prozac for roughly 2 years, treating regular depression. Right before I was correctly diagnosed with being Bipolar, they upped my Prozac medication, which in turn threw me into a manic episode. It was pretty severe and I had to be hospitalized. I have been on Lithium ever since, and thankfully have not had any other episodes. However, my doctor was reluctant to put my on any anti-depressants in fear on having this happen again. I now have a new doctor due to my former doctor moving, and he has just recently put me on an anti-depressant to go along with my Lithium. Time will tell if it effects my mania, but I now know the signs so hopefully that will help me catch it if so.

    February 22, 2011 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steve

      I am bi-polar also. Recognizing when a manic "episode" is about occur is something I learned as I have become older. I was told I was "manic/depressive" when I was 18 years old. "Talk therapy" helped me..talking with friends . Moving to another state also helped me. Maybe it was something in the iron-rich well water I drink. I still get depressed and have sucidal thoughts every day. I have manic spells where I'm full of energy and I get lots of work done. I have a good-natured wife who loves me. That's a good thing too.

      February 22, 2011 at 20:16 | Report abuse |
  16. May

    At the age of 43, with no previous history or symptoms of bipolar disorder in my family or in myself, I was "diagnosed" with this condition. I told the psychiatrist this didn't sound right–spontaneous onset bipolar disorder in one's 40s. I also said that my general practictioner had prescribed an SSRI for me several months prior because I had chronic, unrelenting insomnia that was not alleviated with sleep medication. He insisted I must be depressed, then. All of my manic/hypomanic/mixed-state symptoms started after that.

    I told the psychiatrist I was sure this was related to the anti-depressant. "Nope, nope, nope," the psychiatrist insisted I must have had latent bipolar my whole life. Sorry, but no, I didn't. I hadn't. Rather than taking me off of the anti-depressant, he prescribed lithium and three more medications to "even out my moods." I soon became a walking example of the black-box warning associated with these medications. I eventually switched doctors and the new psychiatrist agreed that it would be very odd, indeed, for someone to spontaneously develop bipolar disorder so late in life.

    The new psychiatrist started the long and slow process of getting me off of all medications. It has been a year of being pharmaceutical-free. Hey, guess what–I'm fine. I'm not depressed, I sleep OK (solved with hormone therapy), and I haven't had a manic or hypo-manic moment since. I am as normal as I was for the 43 years prior to this supposed onset of bipolar disorder (quite stable and unremarkable). I can't adequately articulate how bad I felt and how messed up my brain was during the time I was on those medications. No drugs=clear head. After being off medications for a year and seeing the psychiatrist periodically during that time, I was finally given a clean bill of mental health. The doctor (who, by the way, runs a respected program at a local hospital) concluded that I do not have bipolar disorder, that I never had bipolar disorder, and I shouldn't worry about it coming back. He said that in his experience working with hundreds of patients each year, he has seen SSRIs induce bipolar-like symptoms in many patients–including those who had no previous history of any mental illness. He said there are no good studies to prove this, and there likely won't be any since pharmaceutical studies are usually paid for by pharmaceutical companies.

    I know that the pharmaceutical companies aggressively pitch primary care doctors, family practioners, and GPs regarding prescribing anti-depressants, but really, these medications should be dispensed by psychiatrists only. you know, someone with some deep background in mental health and brain pathology. Generalists have no place prescribing such powerful medications. they should stick with rashes, sore throats, and high blood pressure cases.

    February 22, 2011 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • followup

      I couldn't agree with you more. Medical doctors and drug companies teaming up to push drugs they know little about for conditions they're not trained to address is absurdity that could only be instigated by profit motive, ignorance, and arrogance. It may be that when things are bad enough almost any change has a chance of bringing about som
      e sort of apparent improvement. For the majority, however, these “guess and see” medical / drug interventions such as with SSRIs – according to studies – are not generally significantly more effective than a placebo and run the risk of worsening the problem or adding the burden of side effects. Studies show there are instances when the most severe cases of certain conditions are helped by these drugs although, again, they “don’t know why.”

      I’m glad to hear of your success breaking free of that trap.

      February 22, 2011 at 17:38 | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      Some psychiatrists just throw a pill prescription at you, one after another, like you're some kind of science experiment. This, I feel, is bad medicine. The right medication can work WONDERS for someone who struggles, but a doctor should never force a medication upon a person they are skeptical about. And they should encourage patients to do their own research.

      February 22, 2011 at 21:20 | Report abuse |
  17. Nick

    General
    Thank you for the information regarding bipolar disorder. This blog was insight full and should be reviewed by anyone with this ailment. We will share this information with our clients. If any readers of this blog are looking to qualify for Social Security Disability, the Disability Group Inc. is more than happy to help. We can be reached at (http://www.socialsecuritylaw.com/). You feedback about this issue is greatly appreciated.

    February 22, 2011 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. DAWN MERKEL

    I have experienced severe depression years ago and it was due to poor diet and stress, I used a mild antidepressant for a little while but didn't like the side effects, I began a healthly diet, regular exercise, more sleep and sunshine and YES it cured it, Sunshine is a natural source of Serotonin which is what your brain lacks when depressed and a diet high in junk food and especially sugar can jump start irritabiity and depression also a lack of sleep can jump start depression , so there are natural ways to help depression (not necessarily bi-polar) but is takes some effort, changing habits

    February 22, 2011 at 15:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • charles s

      The sunshine is exactly right. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is treated with full spectrum light (sunshine). It occurs during winter when it hard to get enough sunshine. Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) is also used to treat it.

      February 22, 2011 at 15:46 | Report abuse |
  19. Me

    Back in August I was put on the drug effexor thinking it might help balance out the chemicals in my brain. I was never "depressed" or suicidal but I often was down and thought perhaps the drug could bring me up. Recently I developed hives due to an allergy still unknown but my Mom and I thought that maybe it was caused by effexor so I stopped the drug cold turkey but had severe withdrawals and got weaned off the drug within 3 days. I went through horrible withdrawals even after being weaned off the drug and while I am still getting hives I would never go back on an anti deppresant drug unless I absolutely had to. My doctor suggested I excercise in place of a drug because the more active you are the more happier you will be. I am trying it now and have to say I am very happy. While, some people have no other choice than to be medicated I would suggest trying everything else before hand. We don't know if antideppresants cause other issues along the way but I personally wouldn't doubt it after my experience.

    February 22, 2011 at 15:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Don

    Almost 40 years ago I was appropriately placed on an early tri-cyclic antidepressant, Elavil. It did the trick but within 6 months I was hypo-manic while my doctor was on a three month trip to his original home in Europe. Of course I thought that nothing could be finer than the state I was in and to be truthful it was a very productive period in a job that prized innovation and energy. When he returned my doctor immediately recognized the hypo-manic state and upped my Elavil prescription as a prophylactic against what he was sure would be an inevitable fall into depression. While with the knowledge available at the time this was a reasonable response, it was in fact like pouring gasoline on a fire.

    My manic energy allowed me to transfer myself (within IBM) from the east cost to the west coast where after a period of serious instability and oscillation a new doctor eventually switched my medication to another family. Shortly after I was stable and have not had a manic or hypo-manic episode since. I have gone off and on the anti-depressant several times since hoping that I was "cured" but every time the depression returned. It has now been 15 years on a medication that proved effective for my type of problem without experiencing a depressive relapse.

    I consider this as anecdotal evidence that for some people some antidepressants do indeed initiate and then further stoke a manic state.

    To those who have never experienced clinical depression and its attendant life threatening anhedonia I ask please hold your silence on depression and its causes and treatment.

    February 22, 2011 at 16:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Gumby00

    When I was in college, I was at a dr. appt. and randomly mentioned that I was feeling very stressed and having anxiety. My doctor told me it was depression and put me on depression medication. I was young and never thought to question his diagnosis or the medication. I had the most horrendous side affects – – teeth grinding, dizzy sensations that would move through my body in waves, lack of care toward serious situations, inability to cry or show emotion, general feelings of being drugged, and weight gain. All the above (with exception to weight gain) would increase dramatically if I was late taking a pill, even by a few hours. After a year, I took myself off the medication – gradually of course. It has been over ten years and I truly doubt I was depressed and in need of medication...I simply was a college kid that needed better ways of coping with the stress of full time school and a full time job. Some Doctors hand these meds out like candy to people that truly do not need them and that is a very dangerous practice. Ethics should go further than probable pharmaceutical company incentives. Luckily, these meds did not trigger any bipolar-ness in me.

    February 22, 2011 at 18:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. VS

    So basically Dr. Charles Raison – CNNHealth Mental Health expert is saying I really don't know the answer but he just takes forever to say it so that he seems to be CNN's Mental Health expert

    February 22, 2011 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Anna

    Antidepressants may 'jump-start' bipolar disorder, but that might not be a bad thing. Once I was diagnosed as bipolar they could put me on the correct medicine. I took antidepressants by themselves from age 11-18 and they didnt help, and now we know why- I need a mood stablilizer as well.

    When you know what is wrong, you can finally 'fix' it.

    February 22, 2011 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. GatorGrrl

    To everyone on this post who is struggling or struggles with depression - keep up the good fight. Be kind to yourselves, this is a wicked disease and every day that you can smile is a victory over it.

    February 22, 2011 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Frustrated

      GatorGrrl you are spot on. Depression, Bipolar, Anxiety disorders, and all forms of mental health issues are incredibly challenging.... I have been struggling for several years. Comments like yours remind me that there is kindness and love in the world and that everyday I have something to be thankful for.

      To everyone else commenting about their experiences I wish you the best of luck.

      To everyone else that is commenting without having real life experience with mental illness.... well sometimes it's best to keep your comments to yourself if you are not sure what you are talking about 🙂

      February 22, 2011 at 19:34 | Report abuse |
  25. Gwen

    My ex-husband had bi-polar features and episodes and that is the reason for our divorce. With his refusal to get help and my safety at risk along with my daughter's safety at risk, and the idea that I would absolutely not raise my daughter in that environment, was the deciding factor to separate. Three years after our divorce he crashed down at work. This was the reason that he now had to get help, or he might lose his job. He reached out to me thank God as the night I took him to the ER could have been his last. A doctor inasmuch said so. It still makes me sad to think of what condition he was in when I went to get him – I had to dress him like my child. Of course his doctor was never aware of the problems he had as he didn't tell him about his struggles, and when we were going through our divorce, so was the doctor. I'm sure all his doctor heard was how awful I was. So prior to the ER visit he had been placed on an anti-depressant as he had been struggling for about a month before that. When I spoke to a psychiatrist I worked with she specifically said that I had to be very careful as if he was bi-polar this could take him over the edge. Well that seems to have happened and there we were in the ER where he finally was diagnosed. Thankfully his parents finally climbed on board about an issue they knew had been going on since he was about 20. He got on a mood stabilizer and has been on it for 10 years. He has done well, and only once can I say that he had a bad episode since then. That last time, I had to intervene between him and my daughter and remove her from his care as we shared physical custody by then. It made me very sad to hear her thoughts of how scared she was and also the look in his eyes – she was about 15 then. I had seen that look many times before and remembered my heart pounding out of my chest at times. So, although maybe there is not total evidence of anti-depressants triggering a bi-polar episode, I feel it definitely did for him. I do believe there are times they might need them such as when they are in a severely depressed state, but there has to be a balance with the other meds too to stabilize someone from not being manic to not being depressed.

    February 22, 2011 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Frustrated

    GatorGrrl you are spot on. Depression, Bipolar, Anxiety disorders, and all forms of mental health issues are incredibly challenging.... I have been struggling for several years. Comments like yours remind me that there is kindness and love in the world and that everyday I have something to be thankful for.

    To everyone else commenting about their experiences I wish you the best of luck.

    To everyone else that is commenting without having real life experience with mental illness.... well sometimes it's best to keep your comments to yourself if you are not sure what you are talking about

    February 22, 2011 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Steve

    I am bi-polar and recently I was prescribed an anti-depressant because I was having suicidal thoughts. The perscription made "Mr. Happy" limp as a noodle! No thanks. I'd rather suffer from depression and manic "episodes".

    February 22, 2011 at 20:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Justina

      Steve, the world is full of wonders, beauty, meaning and true love to be discovered by you, though tainted with some grief for now. Read Book of Job and Gospel of John and never be depressed again. Your Creator God knows you and loves you. Return to Him.

      February 22, 2011 at 20:25 | Report abuse |
    • BeenThere, DoneThat

      @Justina: "For NOW"????? How many years does it take, in your oh so humble opinion, for depression to be "real", and not caused by lack of belief in your own particular god? 45? (as in my case). 55? 200?

      March 9, 2011 at 15:04 | Report abuse |
  28. Justina

    Reading the Book of Joshua will blow you away from depression. Don't be depressed on a planet with 2-3 billion humans in need when you have food to spare. Be thankful, read the Bible and do something.

    February 22, 2011 at 20:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Macy

      Sweetheart, please learn some science and then get back to us. Depression can be caused by a disruption of normal brain chemistry. It has nothing to do with your god, or any other god. I know Christians suffering from depression; do they just not believe "enough"?

      February 22, 2011 at 22:09 | Report abuse |
    • AMY

      You sound like my mother. She told me that, and I asked her "Are you going to quit taking your high blood pressure medication and read the Bible to get better?" Her response: "No." Yes, faith can help you deal with problems, but it is not a cure all. While some people are depressed because of their current situation, many are experiencing a serious illness. Mental illness is actual physical illness that affects the brain. While the mechanics are not yet fully understood, it is no different than being diabetic or having high blood pressure, it cannot be cured by willpower.

      March 2, 2011 at 17:55 | Report abuse |
    • BeenThere, DoneThat

      For some of us, food IS the problem, or one of them. For many others, having enough food is NOT the problem. Does your bible not say "Man does not live by bread alone"? Or do you pick and choose which parts of your bible to believe in?

      March 9, 2011 at 15:06 | Report abuse |
  29. labels and drugs were worse than useless for me...

    I was diagnosed with first mild depression with anxiety and tried all the SSRIs they threw at me - and without exception, they all made me manic. Some did so within days (Effexor) and some took weeks (Paxil.) I also took Zoloft, Wellbutrin, and a variety of other medications to help counter the increased anxiety on these medications.

    A couple of years after having tried these I remained a slow cycling bipolar II until I finally stopped manipulating my brain chemistry with chemicals entirely. I firmly believe the SSRIs triggered the bipolar response in me; it may have been latent, but they definitely contributed to its expression.

    The category of anti-bipolar drugs also made me irritable (Lamictal) and feel very strange (Zyprexa). I couldn't tolerate any of these medications.

    I've been free of psychoactive pharmaceuticals since September, 2010 and haven't been as emotionally balanced or well rested in years.

    What was worse for me than the rollercoaster of medicines I was encouraged to try in pursuit of some "normalcy" was the stigma of identifying with mental illnesses. Everyone has ups and downs. Don't let others' description of your pattern of emotions define you.

    Even if clinically this needs to occur, recognize that everything in the world changes - and do not let a disease label identify you. You will change. You may move out of this disease diagnostic criteria, and should not attach to closely to any attribute of a label.

    Best of luck everyone; taking meds like these is difficult for difficult situations.

    February 22, 2011 at 20:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • AMY

      What you were experiencing was probably side effects to the medications they had you on, not bipolar disorder. If you are Bipolar, you need to take some sort of mood stabilizing drug, or a combination of drugs, not just another antidepressant. I don't know if you were being treated by a regular doctor or a psychiatrist, but a long term antidepressant is not usually used to treat depression unless it is chronic.

      March 2, 2011 at 18:01 | Report abuse |
  30. Justina

    Book of Job in the Old Testament is real medication.

    February 22, 2011 at 20:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. sparknut

    As a teenager I was put on Paxil for depression. When I first started taking it I had a manic episode, but only one. The psychiatrist said it had uncovered a hidden bipolar disorder and put me on large doses of depekot. I became a zombie. My world was collapsing because I had no desire to do anything. I had been an A student, but my grades plummeted and I didn't care. Still the idiot psychiatrist refused to lower the dose of depekot. My parents took me to another psychiatrist who gradually lowered the does of Depekot. And surprise! No manic episodes! But great damage had been done to my life due to the first doctor's stubborn stupidity.

    February 22, 2011 at 21:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. KeithTexas

    I am bipolar with six or seven severe occurrences of Depression but only three sever manic phases in my life time. I had the first depression as a teenager then the tendency increased until it was a part of my life full time at about age 25. I am 60 now.

    About 25 years ago I worked with a psychologist and a psychiatrist trying to become normal, what ever that is. We tried lots of different drugs and finally one didn't make me too crazy or depressed. I took it for about 6 months to give it a good try but the problem was that I had no mood changes at all. No ups, no downs, just even, life was so boring and it seemed that I couldn't experience real Joy either. So I quit taking it, I used the coping skills I learned in therapy and did pretty well with no suicidal Depressions or uncontrollable manic periods.

    About four years ago I wanted to quit smoking so I got my family doctor to give me WellburtinXL. I knew the dangers of Anti-Depressants for me and my condition and when the Doctor ask me I lied and said I didn't have any problems. I am so glad I did. I am still taking it and it is wonderful. I have a pretty wide swing of moods now but no depression and no jumping out of my skin manic periods either. So after I got off the cigarettes I ask the doctor to leave me on the medication and at that time confessed my other condition and talked about all the different medications I had tried in the past. It may be a problem for other folks but it is great for me now. Every one has a different metabolism and their brain chemistry is different. No medication will work for everyone or hurt everyone.

    February 22, 2011 at 22:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Matt

    Absolutely, anti-depressants can jump start bipolar, ultimately leading to my having bipolar type 2 with rapid cycling. Both prozac and zoloft made me hypomanic, or "better" in less than a few weeks, which is not a normal response for a unipolar depressive. Effexor nearly made me commit suicide. I now take a combination of very low dose Lamictal, Depakote, Neurontin, and Lithium. It does the job, no side effects, stable for more than 6 years with no adjustments. My doctor feels anti-depressants are contraindicated for treating bipolar. Stabilizing the sleep cycle and routine are paramount. One should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep between 10-6 is optimal, medications should be taken at the same time, etc. Therapy is helpful, but for anyone who knows they have bipolar, you are kidding yourself if you think medications are not the primary component of treatment. It is denial that leads one down the path of "I don't need medication and am doing well with just therapy or diet or exercise or religion."

    February 22, 2011 at 23:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. neurosurge

    Psychiatry is mostly witch craft unless your problems stem from being tortured or a very traumatic experience. Why is almost half of the population depressed? Is it the world we live in? Or is it how we perceive the world? What changes our perceptions? Well....I will tell you that this natural pesticide is what changes perceptions and it is so subtle you don't even realize it is happening. This psychoactive stimulant wreaks havoc on the brain, CNS and body. The substance 1,3,7 trimethylxanthine the most widely used drug in the world. It is given to us from the time we are a few years old. There are studies that tell us that it has health benefits....which is far from the truth. This substance acts as an adenosine antagonist which causes sublte problems in most depression, anxiety, nervousness to major in some mania, severe depression, and paranoia. How many times has your therapist or psychiatrist asked you how much CAFFEINE you have been consuming? Thats right highly addictive caffeine AKA 1,3,7 trimethylxanthine. Mainstream medicine is not taught about caffeine....the reason if you eliminate caffeine from the diet.....you eliminate the doctor and pharamacy visits $$$$. Adenosine is what calms the brain which is why caffeine keeps people awake. Adenosine helps regulate dopamine and serotonin. Did you know that some meds mechanisms are to regulate dopamine and serotonin. Do your homework and try to eliminate it for at least 3 months and see if you feel different....you will be suprised. Withdrawls may persist, but you have to get past them ans stay off.

    February 23, 2011 at 00:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. ck

    My daughter was diagnosed with ADHD and was taking Adderal, which was helping her with focus and concentration. She also had some mild depression symptoms and the psychiatrist prescribed an anti-depressant. After taking these for a very short time, it sent her into a hypo-manic episode. There is no history of bi-polar disorder in our family and I am convinced that this episode was caused by the anti-depressant alone or in combination with the Adderal. Once this episode was resolved, she has not had manic-type symptoms since.

    February 23, 2011 at 02:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Livingdaybyday

    Everyone here who says that excercise alone is the cure is ignorant of bipolar disorder. Anyone who says that therapy alone is the cure to bipolar disorder is also ignorant. Listen, treatment for this illness needs to incorporate excercise, and therapy, medication, sleep (when possible). All of these create an effective treatment, one alone will not. As far as drugs go, mental illnesses are not the same as an infection, spider bite, or any physical ailment. How we receive our ailments are extremely varied, where an infection usually is in a dirty cut. Therefore drug treatment is going to be much more difficult, and usually is trial by error.
    My treatment of bipolar disorder was tough when i had my mixed episode. But with the help of a hospitalization i got it under control. Many people attach a bad stigma to this disorder which makes things only harder.

    February 23, 2011 at 21:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Mary

    I was depressed and informed the psychiatrist that my dad had bipolar. He asked me a few questions and said he didn't think I had bipolar. I was put on a variety of anti-depressants none at the same time. Paxil affected both my mom and my memories. When we stopped taking it and got on different anti-depressants our memories returned. I was 46 and she was 72 at the time. I ended up having boughts of mania and was in hypomania for most of 5 years. My biggest problems where controling my temper which I didn't have before the medication and spending money for schools, churches and gifts for others. I was taking out loans to help me spend the money and not thinking anything of it. I found a different psychiatrist and he said to slowly get off of the amount of antidepressant I was on and he prescribed a mood stabilizer drug, lithium and more psychotherapy. I had a attention problems so then Adderal XR was added and I feel I am finally recovering and back to a some what normal life. My personal experience leads me to encourage
    health care people to encourage mood stabilizers if bipolar is in the individuals family history when anti-depressants are needed by their patients. I think chemicals in some people's brains need outside help. Factors that influence a person's and particularly my body and brain are nutrition, exercise, routines, sleep, often medication and avoid stressful situations and jobs. If you are in stressful situation get help to learn relaxation techniques for a variety of situations you may find yourself in now and in the future. I am married, a grandma, a teacher, and 57 years old. I am finally recovering after 15 years. It has been a learning process for all of us. Hopefull you will get the right help before 15 years pass in your life.

    February 25, 2011 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
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  38. Mary

    I was depressed and informed the psychiatrist that my dad had bipolar. He asked me a few questions and said he didn't think I had bipolar. I was put on a variety of anti-depressants, none at the same time. Paxil affected both my mom and my memories. When we stopped taking it and got on different anti-depressants our memories returned. I was 46 and she was 72 at the time. I ended up having boughts of mania and was in hypomania for most of 5 years. My biggest problems where controling my temper which I didn't have before the medication and spending money for schools, churches and gifts for others. I was taking out loans to help me pay for the spending I was doing and not thinking anything of it. I found a different psychiatrist and he said to slowly get off of the amount of antidepressant I was on and he prescribed a mood stabilizer drug, lithium and more psychotherapy. I had a attention problems so then Adderal XR was added and I feel I am finally recovering and back to a some what normal life. My personal experience leads me to encourage health care people to encourage mood stabilizers if bipolar is in the individuals family history. I think factors that influence a person's (and particularly my brain) need outside help through nutrition, exercise, routines, sleep, often medication and they should try to avoid stressful situations and jobs. If you are in stressful situation get help to learn relaxation techniques for a variety of situations you may find yourself in now and in the future. I am married and 57 years. I hope my experience will help other get the right kind of help sooner then I did. Read, study, learn to help your medical professionals especially if bipolar is in your family history. Getting a mood stabilizer, lithium started my body to recovery.

    February 25, 2011 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. crystal

    I truely believe the antidepressants make bipolar worse. I started celexa 3mths ago and i am worse than when i started. I would say my mixed episodes are horrible. I contimplate suicide every hour of the day. One day i duct taped the door handle in the car my impulse to open and jump out was to strong it scared me. If i stop taking my meds i get manic with 24hr and lose all sense of reality. Ive known and taken meds over 17yr this is my first time taking antidepressants not mood stabalizers. Hope this helps

    February 25, 2011 at 18:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. crystal

    I also have never felt so "crazy" in my whole life as when i take my celexa. I want so badly to not take it but my withdrawl symptoms would kill me. Literally. I took 5 today im suppose to take 1 but i had the hopeless urge to die earlier today. Thank god thats gone. Im just trying to keep it together until i get new meds.

    February 25, 2011 at 18:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Brian

    Why do I get the feeling they released drugs that might actually cause Bipolar disorder.

    March 1, 2011 at 23:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Been there

    I´ve been there, when I first went on an antidepressant I spiked into hypomania (sometimes mania) for quite some time, followed eventually by a total depressive crash. Back then, 12 years ago, doctors were not looking for Bipolar as hard and they missed it more, leading to treating Bipolar as depression-only. My third (out of 5) psychiatrist got the diagnosis for Bipolar II correct, my fourth added ADD, and now things have been stable for 3 years so that´s definite progress. But watchout for antidepressants if Bipolar is a possibility, is my advice!

    March 2, 2011 at 15:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Balaji Ramamurthy

    Telling truth without filtering doctors consider it as maniac.Some doctors? take advantage of situation to prescribe unnecessary medication to make the patient take expensive medicine for 20 years to please the pharma companies they work for.
    Lot of half baked research in medicine drug research has produced drugs with lot of side effects.That means it is half medicine and prescribed by half trained so called docs

    March 15, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Richard Waldman

    I believe we have entered a new era of understanding.

    A missing part of our education has been found. There is a reason why we humans, the most intelligent animal on the planet can be so extraordinary on one hand, and on the other, having to suffer, for example, the pangs of bipolar; a brain disorder that causes severe ups and downs that effect mood, energy, and ability to function.

    The reason can summed up this way. We humans pay a price for having a highly creative brain that has created, without our knowledge or permission, an image of who our brain thinks we are. This image (the ego) consists of our beliefs and has a gatekeeper, the “chatter in our head” whose purpose is to protect, and if necessary, to create new beliefs that support the ego’s agenda.

    The ego is clever, and knows that our intelligence affords us the opportunity, unlike other primates, to project into the future and past. Our chatter high-jacks this talent, turns it into a weapon and uses it against us. For example, our chatter loves to drag us into the future and beat us up with what-if questions, we can’t answer. “What if you fail, what if you’re rejected, what if you don’t get the job, what if, what if, what if?” When our chatter finishes, bouncing us up and down in the future, it will haul us into the past to remind us of our failures and mistakes, hoping we will slide further into the abyss, which raises a question. How do we manage this “thing in our head” that has run us all of our lives?

    Click on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjA2Nr6LEZk to learn the answer.

    A note regarding the “chatter in our head.” Those taking a psychological drug(s) may not be aware the drug is intended to moderate the “chatter in their head.” Improper medication may turn up the volume. Patients, who are unaware of this fact, may attempt to quiet their “inner noise” through means that may have, unintended consequences.

    March 16, 2011 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Another View

    I just thought I would offer to all of those people going through depression and not giving the people who are doing it drug free credit and thinking it just must not be bad for them, what if I said the same thing to you? What if I said I think all of your suffering is nothing. I understand that being in the situation you think you are the only one who could ever feel this way. But until you are in my head, you have no idea. I was on about 5 different drugs at various times which did indeed make me manic when I was only ever depressed or had anxiety problems. It was horrible. I got off the meds and sleeping pills and now I only have them occassionally and ussually more in an compulsive cleaning sort of way (so much energy at 3 AM is good for my flood but bad for my neighbros). This is less and less the more I truly resolve the issues that were making me depressed and anxious.

    I know this post is old, but for those of you out there who know that you are in just as bad of a siutation but are working through it in your own way. Keep at it and ignore the negativity. I know I used to let it get to me, and it would make things much worse. To those who pills help. Good for you, just make sure you are really working through the problems or else they might not. I know I just had to go visit my mother in the suicide prevention center for those precise reasons.

    October 31, 2011 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
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  47. Sierra

    God's purpose for your life:Perhaps you've wdoenred, What is the purpose for my life? Or maybe you thought, There must be more to life than this! When you try to live life our way, sometimes everything falls apart and do not know what to do.But there is hope for a new dawn. When your heart is broken like a glass into a thousand pieces, and you feel a pain that does not let you pick up the pieces there is a solution. If you give all the pieces of your broken heart to our Saviour, He can help himself. He takes every bit of your heart and restore it to something beautiful. With Christ in the center of your life He restores you and gives you new life.At this point, you have the opportunity to hand over control of your life who created you, who loves you and who knows everything about your past, your present and your future. If you open your heart to Him, you will see that God has a specific plan for your life, which not only includes His purpose for creating you, but also His promise to give you a full life. If at this point and do not want to live life your way and you're ready to live life God's way, you'll find a life full of hope and true purpose.For the plan of God, know that:God's purpose for your life is salvation. God sent Christ to earth to condemn, but to express His love to save! Jesus came to take away all sin, but to forgive your sins, give you the power to overcome sin and the possibility of living a full life. (Read John 3:16-17 and John 10:10)Your problem is Sin. Sin is living separated from God established the rules for your life-knowing what is good, but have chosen wrong. The main consequence of sin is spiritual death, spiritual separation from God. (Read James 4:17 and Romans 6:23)God's provision for you is the Savior. Jesus died on the cross to personally pay the price for your sins. To believe in Jesus Christ as the only way to reach God the Father is the only solution to the problem of separation from God. (Read Romans 5:8 and John 14:6)What you have to do is to surrender. Put your faith in Christ Jesus (depends on Him) as your Lord and Savior and refuses to good works as a way to receive God's blessing. When you give Christ control of your life, and completely trust your life to Him, He gives you eternal life with Him and His power to live a full life, which is his plan for you on this earth. (Read Ephesians 2:8-9 and Matthew 16:24-26)PRAYER God, I want a real relationship with you. I admit that many times I've chosen my own way and not yours. Please forgive me for all my sins. Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross to pay the price for my sins. Come into my life as my Lord and Savior. By Your power, make me the person with the intention that I created. It is in your holy name I do is prayer. Amen. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you, and take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and keep My judgments and do them. Ezekiel 36:26-27Our sin is what separates us from God and prevents us from fulfilling our deepest desires and needs. According to Romans 6:23, sin is an offense against God that carries a serious penalty For the wages of sin is death (eternal separation from God's love and mercy). Acknowledge the sacrifice of ChristWhat you can do for yourself, Jesus Christ has done for you! But God demonstrates His own love toward us, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). He died on the cross for you, and rose from the dead to prove that His payment was acceptable to God. But you must acknowledge and believe this fact. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (Hechos16: 31).Accept Jesus Christ as their Savior (accept the son of God, Jesus)Salvation is God's gift to you. The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). Dear God. I know I am a sinner. I know that You love me and want to save. Jesus, I believe that You are the Son of God who died on the cross to pay for my sins. I believe you rose from the dead. Now I turn from my sins and through faith, receive You as my Savior and Lord. Come into my heart, forgive my sins and save me, Lord Jesus. In Your name I pray. Amen.

    March 3, 2012 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. anonymous

    Zoloft caused a manic episode for me, the kind which is not fun and happy. I lost all my friends and it damaged my relationship with my parents. It set my life on a terrible course from which I still haven't recovered. The psychiatry profession is full of unethical quackery, motivated by kickbacks from the pharmaceutical companies.

    April 22, 2012 at 21:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Anonymous

    I don't know why it has become a generally accepted medical practice to automatically diagnose and treat for bipolar when patients experience this side effect. Happens to alcoholics and drug addicts all the time. 9 times out of 10 they come back to normal and stay that way as long as they maintain sobriety. In the case of ssri's these are substances that occur nowhere in nature, and there is no chance in the normal daily life of individuals to be exposed to these chemicals. This can not be based on empirical evidence, which is suppose to be the basis for all medical decisions and protocol. I was put into a manic episode thanks to Paxil, it destroyed my career and social life. I did not accept the diagnosis as bipolar, and 9 months later I'm back to normal, wouldn't be if I had continued listening to dr's advice. Probably won't ever recover financially though.

    September 14, 2012 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TheMayQueen

      Hi, Anonymous! I was diagnosed bipolar-NOS (leaning towards 2) 3.5 years ago after using Adderall for 2 years to cope with depression. I've doubted the diagnosis ever since and believe anyone addicted to self medicating with adderall and starving for nutrients would be CRAZY. I have gone from 300mg Trileptal twice a day and 50mg Trazadone at bedtime to only 225mg Trileptal and 37.5mg Trazadone at bedtime. I'm super interested in hearing an update of your health since you posted over a year ago. Please email me at cmc525@nau.edu with "bipolar" in the subject box. Thank you!

      March 4, 2013 at 14:49 | Report abuse |
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