Bipolar Medications: What is the difference between Depakote and Lamictal?


Reader Question: Julie, what is the difference between Depakote and Lamictal? #bipolar #schizoaffective

Great question as our bipolar world of medications can be a bit confusing. I am lucky as I was trained by a master, Dr. John Preston. For over ten years, he has taught me about psychiatric medications. So please know that what I write is my opinion, but it is based on a solid background in medications.

This is info to use with your health care team.

There are four main psychiatric disorders: Mood, Anxiety, Psychotic and Personality. Depression and bipolar disorder are mood disorders.

Bipolar disorder is what I call a garbage pail illness as it has ALL of the symptoms you find in all four categories of psychiatric disorders. The difference is that bipolar is episodic and our symptoms mix and match [ Read More ]

Why Aren’t Medications Enough to Treat My Bipolar Disorder?

I wish we could just all take a pill and never experience bipolar disorder symptoms again. In over 20 years of work in the bipolar disorder field, I have met only a handful of people who take medications and never get sick after a first episode. I know one person through my professional work who is free of symptoms because of medications. Most of us have symptoms that are not completely treated by meds and many of us, like myself can’t tolerate daily medications.

I’ve noticed that the meds help the random mood swings and help us stay more stable in every day life, but as soon as something big happens we can go right in to mood swings again.

The meds definitely make the mood swings less serious and in many cases, less lengthy, but the mood [ Read More ]

Julie, What are the side effects of lithium? What is lithium orotate?

I want to stress that all drugs have potential side effects- even natural salts like lithium. Side effects are NOT the same for everyone. I have friends who have been on lithium for over 30 years with little to no side effects and normal kidney function. There there are people like myself who get great relief from lithium, but can’t take it regularly due to side effects. Common lithium side effects include a very strong thirst, lethargy and a dull feeling in the mind. It can affect reading ability and writing. Memory can be a problem as well. Weight gain and increased hunger are also side effects. The most serious side effect in my book is APATHY. This means the person on lithium loses interest in doing things that once brought pleasure. [ Read More ]

Bipolar Disorder Medications: Kaiser sues Pfizer over Mis-representation of Gabapentine (Neurontin)


It amazes me that Gabepentin (neurontin) is still prescribed for bipolar disorder. It’s used in jails and by health care professionals who might not know the facts. I wrote the blog below in 2012. How is it possible that four years later, the drug is still being used for people with bipolar disorder? I’d like to hear your experiences.

Here is a very interesting article regarding the drug gabapentine. Known mostly by it’s brand name Neurontin, the drug was touted as a medication for bipolar disorder. In reality, it often caused suicidal episodes – even though it took doctors a while to catch onto this. I was given Neurontin in 1998- it was my 22nd drug and by that time I had so many drugs in my body, this one only made things worse. I became immediately [ Read More ]

BP Magazine Article: Bipolar Depression Distortion

julie-car-head-in-hands-2015It takes a lot longer to worry about getting things done than it does to actually finish a project. This is something I’ve taught myself over the years. As I work on my new book, I have to remind myself to his daily. If I let myself, I would worry more than I would write.

Isn’t amazing how this illness can distort our thoughts to the point we don’t even know who we are anymore?

Isn’t it shocking that we can be fine one day and then suddenly the world turns to black and white and all that was once joyful turns to sand?

It blows my mind that I can be someone who doesn’t worry on one day and then wake up and the worry has taken over my life.

Yes. It is [ Read More ]

Lamictal (lamotrigine) for Bipolar Disorder: Reader Question

med questionHello Julie,

I was taking 800 mg a day of lomictal. I dropped to 600 for six. Then two weeks ago, I dropped to 400. The dose is still way above “normal”. I just don’t think I need these meds. I totally get and appreciate mental illness. I have been on meds for 28 years. I am a high functioning professional — 12 months ago my life took a huge turn — for the better. I retired and several other external circumstances changed. I want to quit all meds and try it on my own — again, I am not anti meds in any way, nor am I feeling above them. I just wonder if meds have always been the first answer for me and adjusting, increasing and changing them for 28 years has gotten me [ Read More ]

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