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Bipolar Disorder/Bipolar with no meds?


My husband has been diagnosed bipolar. I have been with him through everyday events of highs and lows. He has tried many, many meds that were given to him through psyciatrist. He has been off of meds for about 4 years now simply because the doctors discovered he can not take them.
It seems that almost every medicine he tries, works the opposite on his system. He was religious about taking them and, even though he was going through a nightmare, he continued them. It finally got to the point where, he was thinking of suicide. He went off of all meds and then, about 3 years later, his new doctor wanted to try him on another med. Same thing happened. He went out of control, numbness in the arm, it was awful.
I have to say that, I look at him all of the time and say to myself... Why? He is an awesome man.
He tells me that he always has to keep his true thoughts and feelings hid, that, if I saw what he was really thinking, I would take him to the closes hospital at times. That of-course makes me feel pretty uneasy. I mean, not really knowing a persons real thoughts can be kind of scary. My question to you is... What does someone do with this nightmare they deal with everyday and can get absolutely no relief from do? Can you suggest anything that may help? I am sure you have seen this in your practice. Someone who is not tolerant of any meds that might help ease the pain. He is 55 years old. We appreciate your time and kindness.

ANSWER: Hi Dee . . .

In 50 years of psychiatric practice I have never seen an individual who was physically unable to take any of the medications used to treat people with bipolar disorder. When people are unable to take any mood stabilizers it has always turned out that they had a fear "of being controlled." And, when that fear was successfully dealt with in psychotherapy, it was possible for them to take mood stabilizers.

Best regards . . .


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you very much for answering my email. I really do not understand fully, the answer that you gave. I have lived and closely watched this man suffer while taking every one of these medicines "as directed" by the physician, and, I have witnessed for myself a more depressed, suicidal person with absolutely `no control of his emotions.
Will you please explain what "treatment resistant" is in a patient, please? Do you truly believe that mood stabilizers are the best treatment for bipolar and, can I get your opinion on shock therapy, please?
I do appreciate your kindness and your time!

Hi again . . .

Treatment-resistant means that someone has had a number of treatments that have been adequate in both dosage and time administered and the syndrome has not improved.

People with bipolar disorder generally do best when treated with mood stabilizers such as lithium, carbamazepine, divalproex or lamotrigine. Sometimes antidepressants may also be used.

Shock treatment (ECT) is probably the most effective treatment for treatment-resistant depression.


Bipolar Disorder

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Ivan Goldberg, M.D.


I am a psychiatrist/psychopharmacologist with many years of expereince in treating individuals with depressions, manic-depression (Bipolar Disorder), other mood disorders,. I am especially interested in the psychopharmacologic treatment of individuals with so called "treatment-resistant" syndromes.


I have been on the staff of the National Institute of Mental Health, Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. I am currently in full-time private practice in New York City.

A.B. Johns Hopkins University
M.D. N.Y.U. College of Medicine

I am the creator of Depression Central:

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