≡ Menu

Lithium Withdrawal Symptoms: List Of Possibilities

Lithium is a naturally occurring element that is used to treat mania in cases of bipolar disorder. Additionally, Lithium tends to have a stabilizing effect on the mood, hence it is referred to as a “mood stabilizer.” This means that a person taking it will have a more even-keel, balanced mood and will be less likely to experience the highs associated with mania and the lows associated with depression.

It is also commonly utilized as an augmentation strategy for treatment-resistant depression; psychiatrists may prescribe it with an SSRI for increased relief. Although this medication is regarded as a first-line treatment option in the management of bipolar disorder, not everyone has a good experience with it and/or wants to be on it for life. It is estimated that approximately 3 out of 4 people taking this medication, experience side effects – some of which worsen over time.

Various side effects associated with Lithium use can be unbearable including: weight gain, hair loss, memory problems, and decreased thyroid function. In some cases the Lithium can become “toxic” to the individual even when it is in the “therapeutic” range. Due to these side effects and people just not responding well to the medication, many people have to go through the withdrawal process.

Factors that influence Lithium withdrawal include

There are a variety of factors that are thought to influence your withdrawal from Lithium. The amount of time you were on the medication, your individual dosage, and individual physiology have great influence over the withdrawal process. Some people are just naturally less prone to experiencing major symptoms from withdrawal. Additionally, how gradually you taper off of the medication can also influence the severity.

1. Time Span

How long have you been taking Lithium? Generally the longer the period of time you were on this “mood stabilizer” to help treat your condition, the longer the tapering process is going to be. During the withdrawal process, you are taking away something that has helped you keep your cool and treat your condition.

Additionally, your body and brain have become conditioned to relying upon this substance for your well-being. If you were only on Lithium for a short period of time, you may have a quicker withdrawal process compared to someone who has been on it for years.  However, in general, time you’ve taken Lithium isn’t as big of a factor as people think.

2. Dosage (0.4 – 1 mmol / Litre)

In cases of adult bipolar disorder, therapeutic dose is that which is concentrated between 0.4 mmol / Litre. When prescribed this medication, a doctor will work with a patient to slowly “titrate” up the dose so that blood levels are in the therapeutic range. It is thought that most adults are on a dose somewhere around 1800 mg per day to achieve this blood level concentration. When coming off of Lithium, it is important to make sure that you gradually “taper” down from your current dose.

3. Individual Physiology: Symptoms vs. No Symptoms

The fact that you are a completely unique human being means that you may not react the same way to Lithium withdrawal as someone else. Everyone has different experiences with the withdrawal process.  With Lithium there are usually two types of experiences: people that experience withdrawal symptoms and people who don’t.  If you experience withdrawal symptoms, they probably won’t be very intense.

4. Cold turkey vs. Tapering

It is always recommended to discontinue taking Lithium gradually. Gradual discontinuation has been linked to lower rates of symptom “relapse” during the withdrawal process. People that stop taking Lithium within 1 to 14 days are 4 times more likely to relapse in comparison to individuals that stop taking it over a 14 to 30 day period. Most evidence suggests that the safest way to quit taking Lithium is gradually – over a period of weeks.

The longer you have taken Lithium, the longer the withdrawal process should be. For example, if you have taken Lithium for 2+ years, it is suggested that you should reduce the dose you are taking by 10% every month until you are down to nothing. This may take quite some time for you to fully come off of the medication, but you will be avoiding a majority of unwanted side effects.

Lithium Withdrawal Symptoms: List of Possibilities

It should be noted that some people experience zero “withdrawal symptoms” whatsoever when they come off of Lithium. This is relatively normal considering the fact that Lithium itself has no major addictive properties – meaning it can be stopped without major withdrawal symptoms.

The major problem associated with abrupt discontinuation of Lithium is a relapse in bipolar symptoms such as mania or hypomania. Other than potential for a relapse, there aren’t any major “symptoms” that are likely attributed to withdrawal. If you are experiencing physical symptoms, it could be side effects lingering from when you were still taking the medication – these should subside with time.

  • Anxiety: It is very common to experience increases in anxiety when coming off of Lithium. This is a substance that helps calm people down and works well at minimizing overexcitement and manic responses. When you stop taking the medication, you may notice that you are feeling increasingly anxious.
  • Bipolar relapse: A person coming off of Lithium may have a relapse of their Bipolar symptoms. Lithium is used as a “mood stabilizer” and when a person withdraws from it, they may be prone to experiencing mania, hypomania, or depression.
  • Chest tightness: Another relatively rare withdrawal effect is that of feeling tightness in the chest or some type of constriction. This should subside as your body returns to normal blood levels.
  • Depression: If you were taking Lithium for treatment-resistant depression, you may experience a relapse in your depressive symptoms. It is a substance that is thought to keep the mood “stable” which helps prevent too many peaks (highs) and valleys (lows).
  • Emotional lability: This is characterized by involuntary crying or uncontrollable emotional displays. There is subtle evidence that suggests withdrawal from Lithium could result in emotional lability.
  • Flu-like symptoms: This is a rare side effect, but if a person displays aches and pains, accompanied by nausea, it may feel somewhat “flu-like.”
  • Headaches: Another very general symptom that some have reported experiencing is that of headaches. An easy remedy for this symptom is OTC headache relief.
  • Irritability: Research suggests that the withdrawal process may contribute to heightened irritability.
  • Mania: It is common in the case of individuals with bipolar disorder to relapse into mania upon withdrawal. The half life of Lithium is approximately 24 hours, so you may notice manic symptoms within a few days of discontinuation.
  • Muscle aches: Some people experience muscle aches and pains when they stop taking this substance. This should not last for a very long period of time before it subsides.
  • Nausea: You may feel nauseated when you stop taking Lithium. This could lead to vomiting in some people, but this isn’t a very common symptom.
  • Suicidal thinking: Among individuals that have bipolar disorder and/or depression, coming off of any medication that aims to stabilize the mood could result in suicidal thinking. Most research suggests that abrupt discontinuation of Lithium is more likely to result in suicidal thinking and behavior than a gradual tapering.
  • Sweating: Some people have reported that they get the “sweats” when coming off of Lithium. This is a pretty generalized symptom that is reported when withdrawing from most substances.

Note: It should be noted and restated that most people experience very minimal discomfort and/or symptoms when coming off of Lithium.

Lithium Withdrawal Timeline: How long does it last?

Typically the “tapering” process lasts a few weeks to reduce the dosage and finally get the Lithium out of your body. There are no major withdrawal symptoms associated with the discontinuation of Lithium. It is non-addictive and therefore most people will not report any sort of major withdrawal. Sure you may have side effects while taking the drug – this is common. These side effects will gradually subside over a period of time as you reduce the amount of Lithium that you take.

So for most people the answer is that there is no withdrawal timeline – it’s just a matter of reducing your Lithium intake down to zero. Any protracted symptoms that you may be experiencing could be a result of your body trying to recover from while you were taking Lithium. These symptoms could also be related to other medications and/or circumstances that you are dealing with.

There isn’t much legitimate evidence to suggest major withdrawal symptoms from the naturally occurring element that is Lithium. It is important to keep in mind that you know your mind and body better than anyone else – so you should be able to feel any potential withdrawal symptoms. Some people have reported that they experience a “withdrawal” but it is unknown to what degree these symptoms are from coming off of the Lithium or if they can be attributed to something else.

References:

  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6882990
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12404784
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2897893
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10073392

Related Posts:

{ 47 comments… add one }
  • Paula August 14, 2014, 12:53 am

    I am weaning off lithium after eight years I am 49 yrs. old woman and was doing well, but continued to notice more concerns by being on it, increased urination is a concern, bloating stomach aches at times, constipation and reflux acid after an hour of taking the mess, my moods have been stable the best in years so I consulted with my specialist to come off, I read about kidney problems with prolonged use and toxicity occurring in the body, it has made me realize I did the right thing, is there any advice you can give me to reassure about all the problems with this drug? Many thanks

    • GLOOM August 14, 2014, 3:56 pm

      Hey Paula, medications (of any kind) are always going to have side effects. If the lithium is working and balances moods, I’d think twice about coming off of it – especially if it has worked well for 8 years. Ultimately it’s your personal decision as to whether the negative effects outweigh the positives.

      You can always continue getting check ups with the drug (as you should) to ensure that everything is alright. Similarly, if you want to withdraw from it and mood swings return, you can always go back on it. I know it’s a tough decision. Wish you nothing but the best.

  • Kate Applegate September 7, 2014, 11:52 pm

    Appreciate the info, been searching for 2 days, re coming off lithium cold turkey. Was on it for 15 yrs 1200 mg a day, very effective for my bipolar disorder, levels were lowered to 600 mg a day last yr due to kidney issues. Now pulled off lithium since I am stage 4 CDK and given no preparation for the stopping of this drug. Have had suicidal thoughts {never an issue before}, and crying spells out of nowhere.

    Nightmares every night too, since last dose 2 1/2 days ago. Of coarse this all hit on a Friday and doc is not in!!! Hoping my past manic attacks aren’t gonna hit while at work! Stress level is up with health issues and possible loss of employment due to health. Have kept my since of humor and have alot of support. Researching alot and this site has had best info for me, Thanks.

  • Justin October 5, 2014, 2:46 pm

    I have been on lithium for about 9 months – 1 year now. I gained 80 pounds at first, ballooning up to 270 pounds. I have since reduced that to 250 pounds through exercise and diet, but my frame and height is set for being around 200 or 210 maximum, so my efforts continue to drop the weight. I have also experienced the incredible thirst symptom. I have a 22 oz. water bottle at my desk and fill it up and drain it at least 5 times per day, so I am drinking nearly a gallon of water every day, which has actually felt great and helped me lose maybe 5-7 more pounds.

    I try to get up and walk for at least 20-30 minutes during the work day so I am not completely sedentary for 9 hours each day. I have also experienced the hand-tremor and muscle weakness symptoms. Sometimes my hands lightly shake, like when I am typing or writing with a pen or doing some other kind of activity that requires fine motor skills. The muscle weakness is scary, as I used to be able to bench press 250 pounds and curl 50-60 pounds with a dumb-bell.

    I was actually really strong at one point and most of that strength is still there, but I know lithium has made my arms and back weaker as I can feel the difference carrying groceries up the two flights of stairs to my 3rd floor unit. I want to get off lithium, but it has worked so well to regulate my bipolar disorder that I am scared to drop it. I want the weight to come off and to lower my risk for hyperthyroidism and type 2 diabetes. It’s so complicated. My wife has been very supportive and I have a great relationship with my doctor, so we shall see. Say a prayer for me that it all works out ok.

  • john warbrick October 14, 2014, 11:00 pm

    I am 65 just started 250mg of lithium 6 days ago, diagnosed with Bipolar. I am having very bad reactions, explosive vomiting, stomach cramps, pains loose bowels, tremors, dry tongue, and bad dreams. I am starting to think I can’t take this drug… allergies too many, just confined to bed, any ideas of what happens if I come off it now? My psychiatrist says to try another drug.

    • Audrey Hecker October 27, 2014, 1:44 pm

      John: I would say that if a drug is making you that sick, stopping it will make you feel better. 250mg is a very low dose so I doubt you would have any withdrawal. This drug business is trial and error. There are many other drugs for bipolar including some new ones. Time to move on. Don’t get discouraged.

  • Mel October 30, 2014, 12:22 am

    Started lithium therapy 8/13 and most commonly feel tired, loss hair, thirsty, still a little depressed at 900mg a day. I got my labs done and kidneys/thyroid are ok, but I called my doctor to address the fatigue. Lithium has saved my life it’s the best psych drug out there. My moods, anxiety, and OCD is better. I heard lithium in higher doses can help with depression it did when I first started taking it. Now I think my body chemistry is different I used to go to the gym to control my anxiety and work on weight loss, but I’ve been really tired.

    I explained this to my nurse and she suggest I go talk to my PCP then I talk to them and they say talk to you pdoc. I am pretty healthy so don’t know anything medical. I really think it’s the lithium making me so tired. I thought maybe cutting back on the dose may help. If I get too much of an imbalance or anxiety my limbs start jumping and I can’t sleep. So I guess the calming effect of the drug is worth it to me.

  • Birgit December 19, 2014, 7:06 am

    Hi there. I was on lithium for 3 years after struggling with depression for nearly all of my adult life (and unsuccessful treatment with other anti-depressants). I turned 50 this year and my doc and I decided I was stable and to try and come off it. Apart from a bit of “grouchiness” I have been OK. My main concern is that the arthritic and muscle pains that started with the lithium have not subsided yet. I came off it (tapered out) and had my last dose on 28th September 2014.

  • Breesie January 23, 2015, 4:04 am

    I stopped taking lithium 2 weeks ago after 5 yrs on 900 mg a day. I’ve had irritability and loss of temper and I’ve been very tired. But the last couple days the pain in my chest has been unbearable! I’m hoping it goes away soon it’s so deep that it actually feels like severe back pain. I won’t go back on lithium I’m now 300 lbs and getting bigger and I have no social life or sex life. I have no desire for anything. And now I’m showing signs of kidney damage. It’s poison. It’s a metal and in prolonged use can’t be healthy. Once it’s out if my system I’ll ask about something new.

  • PShackles May 12, 2015, 7:13 pm

    I’ve been reducing my 600mg dose of Lithium for eight weeks now. After each small cut down in dose I am horribly sick. For example, I cut down my dose last Monday, 7 days later I wake at 3 am to vomit, 6 am to vomit, 9 am to vomit and have gotten so weak from not holding down food that my life is on hold. I also have diarrhea and panic attacks, although the anxiety is getting a little better.

    I developed kidney and thyroid issues on Lithium as well as water weight (edema), migraines, weight gain, tremor and chronic fatigue. I really need off this drug, but I get so sick after each cut. So far with the dose decrease no more migraines, no more constant thirst, bathroom runs, and my fatigue improved. I was also on a drug called Loxitane and suspect it is contributing to my issues.

  • Anne May 26, 2015, 10:32 pm

    I got off lithium 2 weeks ago with 600 mg per day due to pregnancy I am now 7 weeks pregnant – my psych says about half bipolar women don’t need meds but it’s hard to tell since I did have suicidal thoughts and it went away but I’m now so stiff, nauseous, and have a sore throat. I don’t know if it’s due to pregnancy, withdrawal or both. My first child I was stable until I relapsed when son was 18 months old due to being a survivor of domestic disturbance – new baby dad new life but old problems. Please pray for me and my family and baby. Thanks.

    • Rhonda August 24, 2015, 6:38 am

      Anne, I hope your pregnancy is going well. I will be keeping you in my prayers. Best of luck, Rhonda

  • Dr Julie L'Esperance June 27, 2015, 4:31 pm

    I am a clinical director at a treatment center that specializes in tapering our residents off of psychiatric drugs. Withdrawal from Psy drugs can be more symptomatic and painful than those withdrawing from heroin and meth. It’s ludicrous to suggest that a med as toxic as lithium (which also damages the liver) is easy to taper. This is the kind of misinformation that leads so many consumers on a path of trauma when they realize too late their biochemistry and central nervous system has been damaged by Meds. It can take years to recover. Dr. Julie L’Esperance (Clinical Psychologist)

    • Shar July 31, 2015, 4:47 am

      Dr L’Esperance: you have me really scared now! I’ve been on lithium for drug resistant bi polar depression and alcoholism. Sober and on lithium for a year now and I have gained almost 50 pounds, memory loss is horrible, thirst is unquenchable and feeling stomach problems starting. I have a horrible metal taste in my mouth and my fiancé says I smell like batteries. I’ve been searching for info on how to taper off (only at 600mg/day now) I want off this ride! I feel strong enough but I’m scared of side effects. What is the best way to taper??

    • Nita August 1, 2015, 2:11 am

      My husband is 68 years old and has been on Lithium for many, many years–I lost track. His psychiatrist recommended getting off the drug because he was started to experience cognitive delay. Interesting how the docs he has seen in the past NEVER mentioned this as a possible side effect. The only one mentioned was potential damage to the liver which he was tested on periodically with satisfactory levels. Titrating off Lithium has been horrible–weakness in walking, depressed. Doctor does not seemed concerned–wants to continue to titrate off this and do talk therapy. Does this sound right?

    • Lauren J. August 31, 2016, 11:13 pm

      Dr. L’Esperance- I think it is dangerous to call Lithium toxic. It saves lives and changes lives in the right doses. It can be toxic, but there are lots of medical treatments that save lives that are toxic (i.e. Chemotherapy). Also, you are a Clinical Psychologist, not a Psychiatrist or Medical Doctor. You can’t prescribe medication, nor are you trained in psychotropic medications. Experience in the field of mental health does not make you an expert. So, please do not scare people into going off their meds. Sincerely, a fellow Clinical Psychologist.

  • Caitlin October 11, 2015, 9:35 pm

    This information is very helpful, thank you. I have been tapering off of Lithium and recently went from 600 mg – 300 mg. Since I did that, I have had increased anxiety, bad insomnia, intermittent chest pain, and stomach pain (I think it might be stomach acid, but not sure). I was feeling nervous about it (anxiety will do that to you!) but this article made me feel a bit better. Thank you!

  • Erin October 25, 2015, 6:08 pm

    I have been on Lithium for 8 years. I am 30 years old. Started at 1800 mgs due to Bipolar Depression with suicidal thoughts. The Lithium helped me immediately, at least to the point where I could get out of bed and was no longer suicidal. About 4 years later doctor halved the dose. Had problems with stress and irritability but rode it out. A few years later, cut that dose in half. Stayed there for a long time. After complaining about cognitive problems he cut it in half again (down to 225 mg), no problems with the last 2 reductions.

    Last week he put me on 150 which is the lowest dose there is unless you go to liquid form. It’s been 6 days and suddenly I’m tired and slightly down. I’m hoping for the best and that its just a fluke because I do have days like this. I know the half drops are rapid and potentially dangerous but I’m just thankful to be getting off the drug. I have a love/hate relationship with it.

  • Tivonah October 27, 2015, 2:25 pm

    I started taking lithium about three years ago and am currently taking 900mg daily. What a joy and Godsend! I’ve never had any side effects, it controls my Major Depression and Bipolar II symptoms, and the one time I had to stop abruptly for a medical reason I had no withdrawal symptoms at all. I will probably be taking these little capsules for the rest of my life; a small price to pay for feeling so good.

  • amanda November 6, 2015, 5:39 am

    I just got off of this 5 days ago. I was on 100mg. My hair fell out so much I looked like a cancer patient. I felt like I was going to throw up every time I took. My hands shook uncontrollably, I’m a photographer so this impacted me greatly. My hair started turning really grey, maybe from the stress or something I don’t know.

    My scalp burned so bad it felt like someone was holding an iron on my head. Since I’m off the only thing that has changed so far is my hands. I hate this. I’m already miserable from bipolar, now I’m miserable from meds… it feels like there is no end. This stuff is bad.

  • Rocket November 13, 2015, 6:34 am

    While suffering from frequent and urgent urination, I decided to quit all my psych-meds prescribed for bi-polar ll, (2.5mg olanzapine, 800mgs lithium, 20 mg Prozac), and replace them with the strongest medical marijuana I could find. After a few days, the lithium must have worn off because all I could think of was sex and I could only doze awhile and then wake up. It was a constant rush of pleasure for 4 days of so.

    The marijuana effects kicked it as the lithium quit doing its job. Although the pleasure was delightful, it also became tiresome when I couldn’t sleep or do anything not related to sex or pleasure. Went back on my meds and things are pretty much back to normal. I’ll just have to pee frequently until I can find something to replace the lithium. Dr wants me to try Latuda. I’ll try it if I can afford it.

  • Carmen November 15, 2015, 4:58 am

    Recently diagnosed under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Depressive mood disorder. I feel I was misdiagnosed. New psychiatrist does not want to take me off yet. Have been on lithium since July of this year (450) mg twice a day. I want to get off the medicine. Makes me tired sleepy. I want to go cold turkey and tapered off gradually this way: (450mg) today. Then next day to (225) mg, next day to (125) until zero. Please advice if this is a safe way. I don’t need this medication. I stopped using drugs.

  • Patrice December 11, 2015, 9:19 pm

    I have been on lithium for 15 years. Kept me mostly stable provided I looked after myself: not too much stress, plenty of sleep, no drugs, not much alcohol. Now reducing as I have hand tremors that make it hard to grasp things, frequent urination, and weight gain that is ridiculous. Reducing slowly off lithium and gradually increasing lamitrogine. So far so good.

    • Nick June 23, 2016, 3:08 pm

      Hey I just read your post, and I would be very careful with Lamotrigine. I was only on it for one month and had tons of horrible side effects. Now, I have been attempting to get off it for 2 months and the withdrawal symptoms are literally hell. It honestly feels like I won’t be able to make it, but I’m staying strong. Just a warning, my doctor told me there were no side effects and it was no trouble to get off of.

  • Mia December 16, 2015, 7:12 am

    I am a teen taking Lithium and I often times forget to take my medication. I have periods where I will not take my meds for about 2 months and I don’t know how to get back on a regular schedule. Sometimes I really just don’t want to take lithium. I have noticed some withdrawal symptoms like irritability, worsening depression, and dizziness. Any suggestions for getting back on track?

    • Laura Pollard July 29, 2016, 10:20 pm

      I see that this was written a year ago. You should talk to your doctor. Maybe there is another medicine you can take instead of lithium. Lithium has been great for me, but at a couple different times over the years I have tried to stop it and have failed.

      I have now been taking it for 28 years and my kidney tests are coming back out of range which may mean I will have to stop it. So my advice to you is seek another medicine. I started lithium when I was a teen as well.

  • Vivienne January 11, 2016, 7:16 pm

    I’ve found these and other posts very comforting. I’ve been on Lithium for 29 years from the age of 26 and recently been having headaches and neck aches and really bad depression over Xmas and new year, uncontrolled crying and rumination. My routine blood test last week found my Lithium level to be slightly high at 1.02. Recently I’ve been fatigued and work part-time.

    My GP told me to stop my dose of 800mg which I did, I continued to stop for the last 5 days and have been suffering with nausea, vomiting, dizziness and I’ve decided to stop permanently. I tried giving up alcohol about 5 years ago and have now stopped for 15 months and cigarettes for 4.75 years, though I take nicotine replacement therapy. When I was diagnosed with hypomania at age 26 my life was in turmoil and very stressed.

    My life is now calm with little stress and I hope I will succeed through this withdrawal without mania or depression. It is scary after 29 years of taking Lithium but I won’t know unless I try and on reading much this last few days whilst lying in bed, I believe my agitation, fatigue, depression and often fast speech and mind, could be the result of prolonged Lithium.

    I am on day 5 of withdrawal and feel fuzziness in my head and wonder if this is the last cover of Lithium leaving my brain. Please email if you can help. I did call my psychiatrist today who told me to stop until next week, to which I replied I wanted to stop permanently and I will have another blood test on Wednesday to affirm the level has gone down, or hopefully zero.

    • melissa April 19, 2016, 2:52 pm

      How are you doing without meds? I have been on meds FOREVER and lithium past 2 years. I am at a stage in life with doctors support I want to be medicine free. I have stopped lithium so far so good. Just curious about you. Thank you!

    • Terryl November 25, 2016, 12:43 am

      Hello, I have only been on lithium 300mg for about 9 months. I am having all the side effects that you are having when you went down on your dose. I am actually on the medication though. I am so fatigued and tired all the time that I decided to stop cold turkey. Did you stop taking yours altogether or were you unable too? Best wishes to you.

  • Jacky January 24, 2016, 11:59 pm

    Lithium withdrawal… I have been taking 800mg of lithium for last 8 years. I first had treatment resistant depression from age 26 after first baby. I am now 56 and have tried many drugs. Firstly tricyclics and then SRI’s, and SRNI. I tried lamotrigine on its own then with effexor and the lithium with effexor, which now coming off. The next will hopefully be Lithium which I really hate.

    It has affected my thyroid, and now have hypothyroidism. I get leg jerks and can barely write when my hands are shaking and also find my memory has become worse. I’m forgetting words when talking I honestly don’t think any of the meds have actually helped me. I think I will investigate more of the alternative therapies.

    I am going to give it a go. It can’t be much worse than a 4 week cycle of normal and deep depression. So useful to read everybody’s comments. Thank you.

    • Joy L Bishay September 23, 2016, 8:27 pm

      I have been on lithium 600 mg as monotherapy for 34 years. My thyroid TSH got a little too high 2 years ago. I took levothyroxine for about a month, had heart palpitations and got off it. My TSH became normal has been in the normal range until recently. Test 5.50 and decided to try lamictal instead of thyroid hormone hoping the thyroid will resolve. Titrated up to 100 mg. And going up to 200. Doc just took me down to 300 mg of lithium and the plan is to remain on this lower dose for a couple of months. Come on thyroid, l am excited about this change.

  • Mehdi Maleki February 1, 2016, 8:02 am

    I have stopped lithium for 2 years. I am really better. Drugs just make the brain stop working well. Any drugs for mental disorders just worsen the situation.

  • Happy February 7, 2016, 9:14 pm

    I was on Lithium for 22 years and my kidneys were steadily continuing to decrease function to the point they weren’t filtering things out at the right rate (GFR down to 50 before I started titrating off of it). That put me in Stage 3 renal failure and when I saw a nephrologist he said I had to get off it or my kidney function would just continue to decrease until eventually they would not function at all and I would be doing dialysis.

    This would happen over time but who now how long I would have. So I have since titrated off of Lithium and started on Depakote/Valproic Acid. I have now gotten up to 1000mg once at night and my levels are somewhere around .28 or .26 after about a month on it. Clinical levels are .5 to 1.0, but I feel great and feel like I have my life back. I have NEVER felt this good.

    Lithium seemed to control the mania but put my entire body in a depressed and slowed down state that I got used to for so long I just never thought I would ever be truly happy again. Even though my mania was controlled I could not manage my stress and emotions. Over the years I improved handling such things but it was always a day-to-day effort that eventually resulted in failure.

    Now it seems that on Depakote my life is coming back together. What I know I have to do is actually happening now much more easily and I am able to calm down more easily and I actually feel like there has been a higher power watching over me all this time to finally get to this great point in life. Keep on top of your mental health. Bipolar disorder can be a huge setback in your life but there are things that work.

    I wish I had known that Depakote would work better for me 22 years ago but life is not a race, it’s a marathon. Keep yourself heading in the direction by using all your resources out there because they are many. You just have to find the ones that will work for you. It takes time to work out what they are for you, but remember that none of us can do it alone.

    Good luck, keep heading in the right direction and you will make this the great life that you want it to be. I believe we all can have that if we work hard enough and make sure we put our mental health first.

  • K March 29, 2016, 11:29 pm

    Currently trying to find another form of medication and am lowering my dose of 1000mg Lithium. Just wanted to thank everyone above for their comments, it’s all been very comforting and useful. Take care and good luck All.

  • Sarah April 8, 2016, 6:06 am

    I was diagnosed with bipolar, possibly borderline personality disorder. The catch is that I was not sober when I was diagnosed. I was a frequent pot smoker and upper user at the time. It sent me into a manic few months. I was given a cocktail of I’m not even sure, seriously, depakote, seroquel, everything taken how my doctor directed it. Just knocked me out.

    Then I began my daily lithium taking. 900 mg every night 300 mg bupropion every morning. I stopped cold turkey when the reflux became too much. Been prescribed plethora of reflux medication to no avail. I couldn’t bear the burning any longer. I noticed I was downing baking soda at work daily! No matter what I ate just to make it stop.

    The physical symptoms experienced (within a month of stopping lithium cold turkey) were blurry eyes. Not a headache but, pressure. A strong uncomfortable pressure behind the eyes. A swollen soreness at the base of neck that has not subsided after 8 months. Chest pain. Some acute. Some dull and lingering. Not sure what the frock to do.

    No doctors specialize in post-prescription drug use healing. I feel like I’m in a cosmic joke. The peace and ease of mind of not over dosing on salts that are slowly deteriorating bodily functions is a plus. The help the lithium gave me I have to deem necessary in order not to guilt myself into this self induced chemical imbalance I have bestowed onto myself.

    I was a textbook bipolar patient on drugs. Off drugs I am just a moody chick. Mentally ill? Or low self esteem with health problems? There’s a choice and difference depending on who you are expressing your self to. I feel like I am relearning how to just contain my minor empathies and sorrow. My cognitive abilities have become askew.

    My memory is a fog. My sights are set on healing. No junk food. All whole cooked meals. I try to break a sweat once a day. With no medications my acid reflux is gone. My body is happy. I am happy and healing. I wish to connect with a “post psychiatric drug user” group. No idea where to look. Anyone else who has noticed any physical changes after long term lithium use please respond. I’m 26 years old. Just looking to be healthy.

    • melissa April 19, 2016, 3:22 pm

      Love it and can relate!! This past 2 years on lithium was the first time in my life I was sober on prescription drugs. I am coming off of everything and going to try to keep myself in check. I have a good support system (church and work family) and we will see how it goes. I am going to start eating better and get exercise incorporated into all of this. Good luck and God Bless!

    • Adam August 25, 2016, 4:15 pm

      Great post. Can relate to your experience. I am coming off all medication (not that this is the first or last time for me). I am a self assessed alcoholic with experience in reaching out for help. Besides that I am diagnosed Bipolar/ Schizoaffective Disorder for some time now since a mental break in college.

      Sometimes I think I can play with my symptoms to my benefit, but know I will eventually have to succumb to medical help and actually listen (when will that happen). I hope you are finding life as a “post psychiatric drug user” to suit you well. I wonder if your path is a possibility for me as well. Focus on your health, just as I will focus on mine. -26 year old; struggling today.

  • Danielle June 2, 2016, 8:58 pm

    I’m 33 years old. I’ve been on Lithium for 2 1/2 years now at 900mg a day and gained 20 lbs and had frequent/urgent urination symptoms within Six months of initiating treatment. I had many urination accidents due to the sudden need to urinate that wouldn’t even allow me 15 seconds to make it to a restroom. Despite these symptoms my blood test have been coming back normal.

    I quit lithium cold turkey back in December after I had a disagreement with my Psychiatrist (it’s all bullsh#t with most of these Doctors). After a week I was hit hard with anxiety, depression, night terrors, heart palpitations, chest tightness, suicidal and homicidal thoughts. I’m almost killed three people during maniac road rage incidents all because my Psychiatrist didn’t want to grant a short-term prescription until I had my Psychotherapy appointment (which was a waste of time and money).

    I literally used half of my annual leave for the entire year in January due to my unpredictable mental and emotional stability. I found a new Doctor right away and got put back on Lithium at a lower dose of 600mg per day. I want to get off the lithium again because I need the piece of mind that I can control my own emotions and actions. I want to try diet, exercise and invest in motivating hobbies and see if I can live without Lithium.

    I took it upon myself to cut my dosage in half and wean off over the next three months. Please pray for me and the people I may come across if I’m back to the low I experienced back in December. Sorry, Danielle

  • Peter June 23, 2016, 10:07 am

    I’ve been on lithium for 37 years. I’m worried if I come off how I will cope. I’m confident if done gradually it could be a storm in a tea cup. I need my motivation back for my religion and weight loss. I’m 145kg and I feel massive. The Lithium is overall not good for my health.

    Time for a change and a new and purposeful life. I’ve loved you lithium but now I’m not so sure. I need to lose a third of my body weight. No thanks to lithium. I face the side effects, not the doctors. I wish they would be human and listen for a change. My doctors treat me like a child when it comes to discussing lithium. I’m 52!

    And I need to come off lithium with the doctor’s approval only. It’s the only way.

    • Laura Pollard July 29, 2016, 10:40 pm

      Good Luck Peter! I have a love/hate relationship with lithium as well. That is great that you are seeking out a doctor to help.

  • Ryan July 7, 2016, 1:40 am

    I was critically toxic so had to be taken off cold turkey in the ER. I developed paresthesia (burning, tingling skin), electric shock sensations, sound sensitivity, vivid dreams, severe anxiety, breathing problems, muscle pain, mood lability, rebound mania and way more… Like symptoms of severe SSRI discontinuation + Lithium discontinuation.

    I went insane and had to be hospitalized. It’s been about 7+ months an all symptoms are not gone yet, my skin is tingling right now – it’s awful. Doctor’s haven’t offered me a treatment for the symptoms or have they been able to explain how any of this was possible. I can’t find references to this happening to anyone on the net or any articles discussing these symptoms.

    I’m going to try restarting lithium… maybe it’ll work – just like restarting an SSRI can stop discontinuation symptoms. Crossing my fingers.

  • Deb July 9, 2016, 9:33 pm

    I have been on Lithium for 8 years with a combination of Celexa. I’ve gone cold turkey with both, Celexa first almost 6 weeks ago then Lithium 3 weeks ago. The only side effect I am experiencing is Headaches. My daughter was diagnosed with Duct Carcinoma Cancer 10 days ago, and if anything was going to send me into a tailspin it would be that.

    However, I have managed my sadness and my fear of the unknown for her without any setbacks as far as depression is concerned. I’m proud of myself and my GP seems proud too. I’m 62 and decided that I didn’t want to be on this medication for which I believe I was put on for situational depression in my mid 50-‘s.

  • Stephanie Drew July 12, 2016, 1:50 am

    I’ve been on lithium since November so about 8 months now at 1200mg. It helped my mood for the first three months now nothing. I’m also sensitive to medications so I’m coming off of it all together as I’ve been having the thirst issue, blurred vision, confusion, memory loss, loss of urination and bowels, shaking hands and such. Doc is slowly taking me off of the meds.

    I reduced to 900mg for one week I’m supposed to do 600mg for two weeks then 300mg for one week then to stop, but my question is can I just jump from the 900mg to the 300mg and do the 300mg for 3 weeks? I would have to fill my prescription if I do it the way the doc wants and A. I don’t want to have it filled and waste it and B. I don’t want to spend the money just to technically throw it away. Any suggestions?

  • Marie September 21, 2016, 10:50 am

    I have been on Lithium 20+ years. Have suffered side effects over the years but Psychiatrist has always declined coming off. Thanks to that last summer I ended up in A & E with neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome and then Sepsis with near fatal consequences. After two months I had improved enough to be moved to a hospital nearer home, then disaster, I was put back on Lithium even though my husband told them it’s a bad idea.

    Then having to be moved to another hospital, when a bed became available, I finally had a Psychiatrist that looked at me holistically and stopped the Lithium as it was causing my kidneys to pack up. With a lot of care and treatment from a brilliant team in Lincoln, they got me well enough to go home after 10 months in hospital. From all this I had seizures and thyroid problems as well as kidney problems.

  • Debbie October 16, 2016, 4:22 am

    I have been on lithium carbonate for approximately 15 years, recent dosage 600mg. Being a veteran and being over medicated for PTSD ruined my life. At one period my anti-psychotic medicine exceeded 500 pills a month. In 1 year hospitalized 4 times (psychiatric unit), 2 suicide attempts, and lost all my material possessions. I decided to throw away all of my medicine–life couldn’t of got any worse.

    Withdrawals were just about unbearable–but if you have 1 or 2 very supportive & loving individuals you can, also do it! I have been off all medications for 2 months and actually feel like a functioning adult–very tough at times and tough on my 2 sons, but we are making it together. I highly suggest NO medications, it takes a toll on your body and then you have to get treated for physical problems as well, I think the worst for me was a diagnosis of IBS–only enema’s worked, and that was just about every other day to 3 days constantly.

    One day after discontinuing all med’s my system was functioning–no more IBS! Please highly consider all negative aspects of taking any type of antipsychotic drugs–they are very addictive! Long term effects are not worth it.

    • Terryl November 25, 2016, 1:58 am

      Wow! I am so very sorry to hear all of this trauma. I am so happy for you, that you got off all this junk. I am going to try it too. Good luck to you!!

  • martin robson October 16, 2016, 2:18 pm

    Hi I am Martin, this is a very brief view on my problem. Now 56 years old, when I was 31 I suffered a Closed Head Injury, resuscitated and Comatose for 11 days. Prior to this I had no past psychiatric history. After being discharged from Hospital way to early and being thrust on my young family, the stress was immense for all.

    As problems began to arise I was advised to be assessed at a Psychiatric Hospital. Initial assessment, brain damage and shock by the Registrar who put me on Tri? to calm me, only for the Consultant to replace him and incorrectly diagnosed Primary Bi-Polar. For 20 years I questioned this and with I caution I came off 800 mg Lithium Priadel, I complained of numerous side effects all the time. What side effects I must still suffer now!!!

    I have been assessed by a Neuropsychiatrist and a Professor, both agree that I did not suffer Primary Bi-Polar. I have been off the Lithium for 5 years and I as I hoped no Psychiatric problem, and bit by bit my old personality is returning as I can see and my friends inform me. This Lithium I am sure will have long lasting effects but I am getting no help or advise off the NHS.

    This might be because the ex Consultant is due in Crown Court in March following a three year Police Investigation, I will not go into the depth of his charges, other than deliberately misdiagnosed and over medicated patients. I am a human being and need clarification on the Lithium effects, and the effects I have from the brain damage to help me move on. It was interesting to read the comments from the people above, and I can see and have been told how the Lithium effected me in some ways, but what is next!!!

Leave a Comment