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Has medication ruined me?

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Cupofdreams

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Mar 10, 2015
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Hi!

I've been pretty much a guinea pig for medications over the past 7 years since my diagnosis. Being stableish for 3 years on Priadel 600mg a day, it's been the best medication out of the whole list but I don't know if it will have long term effects on my health.

Before I transferred onto Priadel I took depakote for 8 months, and had a terrible reaction to it. I piled on 3 stone, developed polycystic ovaries, acne, my hair fell out, forgetfulness and I had the tendency to be angry and irritable. As well as these side effects, my university work took a back hand, suddenly I couldn't write. I know it might sound ridiculous but I struggled to read, I could barley string a sentence together and instead of getting top marks in my essay writing I was scraping through the bottom. I've never been the same since.

When I went onto Priadel, I lost all the weight I put on and more, and my health is much better. But I find that I'm very forgetful even 3 years down the line, I don't know if it's linked to concentration but I can forget conversations seconds after they have ended, or as simple as me putting my purse in my bag. I've kind of developed compulsive behaviour (checking my bag for my pursue, getting out my purse, putting it back in my bag, zipping my bag up) I can do this every 10 seconds when I'm at the bus stop. Panicking that I've forgotten my purse and left it at home or something. I know I'm rambling and probably being silly about all of this. But I'm curious about other people's opinions on this. Can Priadel make you forgetful? Or have the effects of Depakote made a long term effect on me?

:unsure:
 
SarahD

SarahD

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Hi Cupofdreams, I have taken Depakote and lithium and had bad side effects from both, recognise most of what you listed.

Lithium can cause memory problems, it did for me, made me feel very stupid too, but I didn't get the compulsive behaviour. I didn't take it as long as you as I had very bad effects. So I don't know if the memory problems wear off. If you have taken it for three years it doesn't seem likely. You will have to weigh up whether it helps you more than it causes problems.
 
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secretsurvivor1

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Sep 27, 2013
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I lose my train of thought especially during conversation, so I think I have memory problems probably as a side effect of medication, but without those meds I'd be dead so I accept it. I used to be a high flyer and now I am dumbed down but maybe that is better for me? Thinking deeply makes me sad.
 
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Cupofdreams

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Mar 10, 2015
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Thank you for your thoughts SarahD & secretsurvivor1

As much as I'm grateful for being well mentally, I sometimes spiral in thought - medication scares me and I always question what I'm going to be like when I'm old and grey.
 
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Fantail

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Mar 26, 2015
Messages
52
I've been going through this too and concluded it is the bipolar not the medication. I think episodes harm your brain buy medication is supposed to protect it or even repair.

It's not clear what the cause is but most of us need the meds so I think that I will just have to accept it.

I have lists galore. I leave the cooker on most days. It's worrying but working memory is a common problem in bipolar. It is common to have other cognitive deficits even when euthymic.
 
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Haley

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Mar 28, 2015
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Fort Lauderdale
Hi Cupofdreams, I also worry that medications have compromised my brain. I'm on lithium and seem to have no memory loss. I do think my short term memory is affected some but not severely enough to warrant stopping the medication. Long term memory is intact. I don't know if I'd keep a med that was depriving me of my memories. My memories are who I am. I also took depakote which did not affect my memory. I can tell you from experience that the impact of drugs can reverse with time. My brain was devastated with drugs twenty five years ago, prescription drugs from the psychiatrists, and many years later I was able to become stable. I was fully recovered from the drugs. I was able to tutor in English and write a book and have a healthy relationship. The book I wrote is Little Porcupine Goes to the Psyche Ward. You can google it. The point is, I went through all the different drugs in the mental hospital which "ruined" my brain. But twenty five years later I do NOT have long term effects from that. I did have PTSD which I had to get over on my own. There might be some tests for memory that you could take and then the results would motivate you one way or the other. Right now you seem to be taking the meds and putting up with the side effects.
 
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Haley

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I'm sorry but in my opinion working memory is not a common problem with bipolar and memory loss is not a bipolar issue, it is a medication issue. Bipolar runs in my family and we are all sharp as a tack. My Uncle has it and is a genius. My cousin had it and was a genius. Both read lots of books and retained what they read. I also read books and wrote one in fact. Blanket statements like memory loss is a common problem with bipolar have to be backed up with research.
 
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Deliah

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Hello, I have voices and various less usual states. I have been practicing mindfulness and this has given me a great ability to hold attention and to train my mind. I now have very good awareness. I feel alert, creative. I function very well. I don't believe in labels anyway, I think we all are as we are and we are all unique. I am able to live without meds. There are other ways. D x
 
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Fantail

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Mar 26, 2015
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52
I'm sorry but working memory is not a common problem with bipolar and memory loss is not a bipolar issue, it is a medication issue. Bipolar runs in my family and we are all sharp as a tack. My Uncle has it and is a genius. My cousin had it and was a genius. Both read lots of books and retained what they read. I also read books and wrote one in fact. Blanket statements like memory loss is a common problem with bipolar have to be backed up with research.
Unfortunately I didn't pluck that bit of info from air.
Neither is it based on personal experience which is what you have done.
I didn't say everyone in the whole world...
You should try not to be defensive H. It upsets people. You've upset me.
You do not know for certain it is medication. Nobody knows that.
 
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Gajolene

Gajolene

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But I find that I'm very forgetful even 3 years down the line, I don't know if it's linked to concentration but I can forget conversations seconds after they have ended, or as simple as me putting my purse in my bag. I've kind of developed compulsive behaviour (checking my bag for my pursue, getting out my purse, putting it back in my bag, zipping my bag up) I can do this every 10 seconds when I'm at the bus stop. Panicking that I've forgotten my purse and left it at home or something. I know I'm rambling and probably being silly about all of this. But I'm curious about other people's opinions on this.
I don't think this is necessarily a bipolar issue or a medication issue causing this, I have the same types of memory problems with my anxiety and ptsd. It's frustrating and upsetting not being able to have the same focus, concentration and memory that I had before the illness sets in. I notice the higher my stress and anxiety, periods where obsessive thinking and overexcessive worry are really high, it will directly effect my ability to focus and remember things. Since developing PTSD with anxiety and panick disorder my memory and focus is trully 1/3 what it was pre illness. Whether your medication is adding to this or not, you may be able to check by keeping a daily journal.

Don't forget cigarettes and alcohol consumption too can really add to these types of problems, and other physical health conditions such as anemia, and vitamin/mineral deficiencies like B12 and magnesium. My focus and memory has improved greatly with getting the health conditions under control and reducing my cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption.

For the other commentors saying memory is a common problem with bipolar, or related to intelligence, I found with my ex, my best friend and son (hypermanic) and with my mum, my brother and my neice(hypomanic) bipolar states that memory is only a problem when in a manic cycle. While manic the brain is moving so fast that focus and memory is very adversly effected. Does not mean it's a constant thing or that you've been damaged by the meds. It's more of a condition associated with the rapid cycling or as one psych put it to me, your brain working at super speeds and your not being able to keep up with it consciously while in either hypo or hyper manic states. When not manic all have phemoninal memory and focus. Hope this helps.
 
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Christobel

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I am taking Priadel 800 mg but I don't feel as if I'm getting forgetful. I do have a Parkinsonian effect in my hands caused by the lithium, and also some ongoing problems with deteriorating kidney function. The GP says it is just that I'm getting older - but how do they know it's not the medication?

Like you I do get locked into repetitive actions sometimes, but I think it is related to anxiety in my case.
 
SarahD

SarahD

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Memory problems are a well known side effect of lithium.

It certainly affected my memory badly. When I stopped the drug, my memory reverted to normal.

Lithium also causes coordination problems and shaking, and kidney problems.

All these effects are documented.
 
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Christobel

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I would just like to say that I have been on antipsychotics and antidepressants, and none did anything except adverse affects. Lithium did have a dramatic effect - I just felt as if I was walking into the sunshine.

I have my kidney function tested every three months, and I make doubly sure the surgery put all the results in my Lithium Therapy booklet so I can keep an eye on things. It's easy to interpret the data by going on-line.
 
rasselas.redux

rasselas.redux

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Memory problems are a well known side effect of lithium.

It certainly affected my memory badly. When I stopped the drug, my memory reverted to normal.

Lithium also causes coordination problems and shaking, and kidney problems.

All these effects are documented.
I didn't know that lithium could mangle the memory. That's another reason to avoid taking it. Thanks.
 
SarahD

SarahD

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I
I would just like to say that I have been on antipsychotics and antidepressants, and none did anything except adverse affects. Lithium did have a dramatic effect - I just felt as if I was walking into the sunshine.

I have my kidney function tested every three months, and I make doubly sure the surgery put all the results in my Lithium Therapy booklet so I can keep an eye on things. It's easy to interpret the data by going on-line.
I am very glad for you that you found something that works for you. And that you have a regular check ups for kidneys. Thyroid tests are also important with lithium. I was very hopeful it would help me. It is supposed,to be good for bipolar, sadly it didn't help me, and I suffered badly from side effects.

Lithium also affects cognition.
 
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