Need advice on medication treatment - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

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Need advice on medication treatment

Kelso0523 profile image

Hi everyone!

I had PPP in February of this year with no previous history of mental illness. It has been eight months and I was finally diagnosed with bipolar 1 due to my manic episode with PPP followed by months of anxiety and depression. Initially I was on zyprexa to treat the psychosis which worked great. I slowly became depressed and had bouts of insomnia so I was placed on Zoloft, lamictal and would take zyprexa occasionally to sleep. Now with my new diagnosis of BP my psychiatrist wants me to start taking lithium or abilify and I am terrified of both. The side effects are very scary. I feel like my anxiety and depression are getting better, I just have trouble sleeping but a tiny dose of zyprexa helps! What are you ladies currently taking? Any advice on what I should do? Thanks for your help!

10 Replies
Lilybeth profile image

Hi Kelso0523

Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the birth of your baby. Here you will find lots of support and shared experiences. I think you are amazing to be writing so coherently after the traumatic experience of PP only eight months ago. I had PP many years ago but do not have any experience to share of the medications you mention.

I did search the forum and found a post from a few years ago "Lithium for bipolar" which has some replies which might be helpful, the link being

I'm not sure if you have seen the PP Insider Guide "Recovery after Postpartum Psychosis" at There are also personal experiences on the page. I hope some of this is helpful until other mums can be here for you with their advice and shared experiences.

Take good care of yourself ..... we are all here to lean on.

Teresa_K_S profile image

Hi Kelso0523

I think a lot of people can probably relate to you feeling nervous changing meds it is really hard whenever you see the list of side effects.

I haven't been in ablify so cant comment much but I have heard many say it works well for them.

Lithium. however, I have now been on for 12years! I was concerned at first and put off by the quarterly blood tests needed. That being said, I have found this medication for me to be the best of all I've ever been on. They do say that Lithium is the gold standard for for Bipolar.

Also weirdly, Lithium isn't sedating but I find it definitely helps somehow with my sleep. I had sleeping tablets intermittently for 10years but since taking Lithium i haven't needed sleeping tablets on my repeat prescription. If I forget to take my lithium dose on a night then I do have wakeful sleep.

I dont have any troublesome side effects. My friend at work is on Lithium too and the only side effect they notice is dry skin.

I hope you can find the right medication for you. Sometimes its just a case of finding what works best. Remember you can always change if something isn't suiting you

Hope this helps. Take Care

Teresa x

Frankieb profile image

Hi Kelso0523

I had PP twice, in 2004 and 2007, after I had made a recovery from both episodes I unfortunately became unwell around 4 years ago, two years ago I was diagnosed with bi-polar.

I was offered lithium, like you I was reluctant to try due to the possible side effects, but upon chatting to my psychiatrist, family and some thought decided to give it a try.

At the time I was in a bad bout of depression, just about clinging onto normality, soon after I started the lithium this started to lift.

I have now been on lithium for two years, in that time I have faced issues and problems in day to day life which I would have worried may have triggered another manic episode but I have remained stable.

I actually feel really well and in a good place. I understand the misgivings you feel. I ensure I get my bloods tested as and when should and taking the meds is just routine.

The only side effect I have experienced is weight gain, now I'm not sure I can attribute that solely to the lithium as I'm the wrong side of 45 and sit on my bum more than I used to!

Anyway, if you want to chat I'm here.

I wish you well in whatever you decide to do

Barbara x

Pikorua profile image

Hello Kelso0523,

congratulations on your new-born. Wishing you a very warm welcome on this forum.

I have had PPP in 2010 and lived with some huge struggles throughout my recovery.

However, I was reassured once I found the APP forum. It has been such an eye-opener to exchange experiences, to learn from others and to raise awareness and help others.

I am so happy that there are other mums opening up about their diagnosis with Bipolar1...I was undiagnosed I guess all my life. However, my disposition came properly out after PPP.

I was so pleased to receive support from Professor Ian Jones (2nd opinion), which was of great help to my partner and I.

In the last 8 yrs. I could have filled up my cupboard with all sorts of meds by my local health professionals, because of my wrongly assessed diagnosis for "social and agora phobia" , those type of symptoms are part of my bipolar (BP spectrum is very diverse and unique for the individual)

My choice was against lithium and/or a mood stabiliser. It is sometimes very difficult, because I feel extreme ups and every third month a down time. I am following a Bipolar tracking Chart with moodresearch Worcester University. I need to listen/tune into my body very carefully and my energy levels are on a continuous pendulum. I believe my son and partner are the most amazing people on Earth as my partner agreed that I take CBD oil only.

I do not want to justify, but just to be true to myself!

Wishing you well, it is your choice and I hope you can get good advise, maybe a second opinion and have some wonderful people around you for your support network.

Take good care of yourself.


Hi Kelso0523

Firstly congratulations on the birth of your no doubt, beautiful baby.

My daughter suffered ppp nearly 6 years ago and like yourself was later diagnosed with Bipolar. As she was suffering quite frequent relapses and the medication prescribed was not effective enough to stabilise her, Lithium was recommended. It did involve a number of blood tests initially but necessary to get the correct dosage. For my daughter this was the turning point in her recovery. She has now been on Lithium for almost 18 months and has not once relapsed. It's wonderful to see her relaxed and enjoying social events, which before was such a struggle. She is able to focus her mind to work and is so much happier.

I appreciate it can be very scary to change medication and you need to make the decision you are most comfortable with. You are right to be aware of side effects and whatever decision you make will be the right one for you.

Sending you my very best wishes. Enjoy every moment with your little one.

4mila xx

Hazello profile image

Hi Kelso0523

It's scary considering being on medication that you could be on long term.

You're doing the right thing getting yourself fully informed, I'm assuming you are not based in the UK? Because the symptoms you've described sound to me like they could be symptoms of bipolar disorder or they could be an episode of postpartum psychosis on its own. I suppose i am only going on my understanding of what you've written... apologies if I've got this wrong.

From my own personal experience of speaking to drs etc you need to have the mania outwith childbirth usually to be able to be diagnosed as bipolar. I've been diagnosed as having postpartum psychosis and despite episodes of anxiety and depression before and since the only mania/ psychosis was after childbirth so can't necessarily be attached to bipolar. That could change the minute i have another episode of mania or psychosis unrelated to childbirth.

You can always ask for a second opinion i suppose from another doctor? I have no experience of lithium or abilify to offer you but i suppose the reassurance i would offer you is that in my experience different medications work for different people and until you try something you don't know whether it will help you. I tried various medications some of which were helpful, some not. I discovered that i can't take certain types of anti depressants as they make me more anxious. The ones i find most helpful were sedating ones as I'm very prone to insomnia. But no meds are perfect... and i personally found that meds in conjunction with CBT and lots and lots of aerobic exercise allowed me to get a lot better in a way i don't think meds alone could have.

Best wishes for finding a plan that works for you

Hazello xx

Hazello profile image
HazelloVolunteer in reply to Hazello

Ps my understanding is that it is very very common for people to have depression/ anxiety after any episode of psychosis. Eg i know a man who had a drug induced psychosis who was then depressed for a number of years after. As far as I'm aware he wasn't diagnosed as bipolar. Others out there can correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not a psychiatrist!

Lilybeth profile image

Hello Kelso0523

I hope you found the replies here helpful. Perhaps you could also discuss your apprehension about taking the medication with the Psychiatrist? Thinking of you .... take care. x

I have bipolar, I’ve had it for 20 years I have taken (not at the same time but over the years) olanzapine, rispiridone, quetiapine and lithium. For me the lithium was not a drug I wanted to take as the side effects terrified me but my psychiatrist at the time felt it was a good drug and effective. My personal experience of it was that it made me feel quite numb and very groggy and it was probably the worst of the drugs I have taken it didn’t suit me at all but I know for other people it’s a brilliant drug and it can be very effective at keeping bipolar stable. I currently take a drug called asenapine and by far it’s been the best drug I’ve ever taken I don’t have a single side effect from it and it has kept me completely stable for 5 years and I only need a tiny dose of it and amazingly it doesn’t have the side effect of weight gain which all the others did for me and where the others I still had episodes of illness on. It’s a relatively new antipsychotic compared to the older ones but my experience of it has been brilliant x

Lilybeth profile image

Hello Kelso0523

Just wondering how you are and whether your psychiatrist was able to reassure you about the medications suggested? I hope the depression and anxiety are manageable.

Take care. x

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