Can I live without psych medications?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have been diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder for five years now, and have tried a variety of medications including Lamictal, Xyprexa, Lithium, Depakote and Abilify. I have had two major manic episodes, the last one was two years ago in a highly stressful time. Through the five-year process, I have learned how to deal with things through therapy, exercise, sleep and meds, but at this point I am tired of the meds and would like to try to cope without them. I would keep some Xyprexa on hand to take in emergency situations. Does this sound feasible?

A: From the sounds of it, you’ve been conscientious and responsible about accessing help and you’ve learned a great deal in the last five years. Some people can be weaned away from medications as long as they continue the healthy habits they’ve learned. Equally important is that they know their own signs for when they may be headed for trouble again and accept that they then may need to call their prescriber for an appointment.

The people to ask about whether you could try coming off your medication are your prescriber and your therapist. They know you. I suggest you ask for their advice. If they are at least cautiously optimistic, work with them to develop a careful plan for gradually discontinuing the medications and ensuring that your coping skills are working. Be sure to be very specific about identifying your warning signs that you may be going into a manic episode and have a plan for who to call and what to do.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Dec 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). Can I live without psych medications?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/12/01/can-i-live-without-psych-medications/

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