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I have been on lithium for a year now and have been having side effects for months now. Should I stop taking it because my psychiatrist won't help?

Hi Bacreech, It is not a

Hi Bacreech,

It is not a good idea to stop taking a prescription medication without your doctor's supervision. In some cases it can be dangerous.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say your psychiatrist won't help. Are you clearly stating your concerns about side effects and asking if there is an alternative to lithium that you could try? If your psychiatrist doesn't seem to listen to your concerns or refuses to consider other options without good reason, then it may be time to find a new psychiatrist (or psychiatric nurse practitioner).

Lithium does have many side effects. You didn't state why you are taking it although it is most commonly used in the treatment of bipolar disorder. If you are taking it for bipolar disorder and you stop taking it, you increase your risk of having a manic or hypomanic episode.

Medication is often a catch22. It helps reduce or alleviate symptoms, but there are usually side effects and risks. You have to decide whether the benefits outweigh the side effects and risks.

There are other medication options for treating the manic symptoms of bipolar disorder, such as valproic acid (Depakote) and carbamazapine (Tegretol). Some antipsychotic medications are also used to treat mania, including olanzapine (Zyprexa) and risperidone (Risperdal).

But all of these medications come with side effects. It may take some trial and error to find the medication that works well for you with the fewest side effects.

Dr. Lane

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