Experience with lithium: I had PP... - Action on Postpar...

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Experience with lithium

krodwell
krodwell

I had PP 6 years ago and have continued to struggle mentally since. I have just been diagnosed with bipolar 2 and offered lithium. Anyone any experience of taking it? TIA

10 Replies
Frankieb
FrankiebVolunteer

Hi thereI had PP in 2004 and 2007, in 2016 I had a bit if a relapse and went high, then very low, this happened again a year later, I was diagnosed with bipolar and after trying various other meds was offered lithium

For me, it was a life saver, I became much more myself and am able to live a normal life, I haven't noticed any particular side effects, though I have gained weight, but then I'm closer to 50 than 40 and i need to eat less and move more.

In the past few years I have been on it I have had no further episodes.

Happy to chat privately if you prefer

But I would definitely consider it x

Lilybeth
LilybethVolunteer

Hello krodwell

Welcome back to the forum. I’m sorry to hear you have struggled mentally following PP six years ago. There are mothers of courage here, just like you, who have been diagnosed bipolar.

I’m sorry I don’t have any experience of taking lithium and had ‘only’ severe depression after PP years ago. If you can see the forum page, next to your post there are Related Posts with shared experiences which might be helpful?

It’s early days since your diagnosis but I wonder if Bipolar UK might be a support at bipolaruk.org/? There is an eCommunity which might be helpful for you to connect with and share experiences.

Take care ... stay safe.

Teresa_K_S
Teresa_K_SVolunteer

Hi krodwell

It's always tricky sharing experiences of medications. I always ask people to bear in mind that different meds suit different people. Some people may have mild side effects, some more troublesome side effects and others none at all.

All that said here is my experience with Lithium :-

I had been on various medications for 10 years following my PP. However after my third pregnancy, I was offered Lithium. I have been on it over 13 years now. For me this drug has by far been the best. It smoothes out the highs and lows in a way far superior to any of the other meds I used to take. I have mostly felt like my usual self. I'm perimenopausal now with a heck load of stress so things are a bit wobbly from time to time but still the lithium holds me very well.

Some facts I can tell you of lithium which you may know (I'm presuming you have been given an advice leaflet)

Unlike most meds the dose you take will be worked out by how much med is in your bloodstream. Once this range has been worked out you will stay on that dose.

The amount of lithium in your blood stream can alter if you are dehydrated so drinking plenty is essential.

It can affect kidneys, liver and thyroid. So quarterly blood tests are a must. (Caused hypothyroidism for me but I decided to stick with the lithium and now take a thyroid supplement to replace what my body doesn't make)

It is a non sedating drug but I swear that somehow it helps me sleep better as if I accidently miss a dose I have a restless night. Also until recently I didn't need to use any occasional sleep tablets which was a bonus as with all other previous meds I needed to rely on sleeping tablets whenever I had a high but with the lithium I wasn't getting those big mood fluctuations.

I hope this helps somehow but I would say try not to get confused with others peoples experiences and trust what feels right. Anything you are not happy with voice to your consultant and ask for change if need be

All the best

Teresa x

Arabella-
Arabella- in reply to Teresa_K_S

Thanks I have bipolar 2 as well and am thinking of changing my medication (am on Olanzapine and Sertraline at present). What a helpful thread. Thanks for sharing x

Teresa_K_S
Teresa_K_SVolunteer in reply to Arabella-

Hi Arabella,Sorry I missed seeing your reply. Thank you so much. I'm glad you also found it helpful. Bipolar certainly comes with a long learning curve.

I used to be on Olanzapine in the early days but it didn't suit me. It was very good for my depression and moods but a side effect for me was that I literally couldnt stop over eating even during the night when I was half asleep. I put on 4 stone in a year. I called it a day when I woke up with a half eaten jam sandwich on my pillow! That's what I mean about people all responding differently to meds. I do understand that sometimes it a trade off between putting up with certain side effects and staying well but I think its most important to not be afraid of asking to try something else if needed

I hope you find what works for you

Take Care

Teresa x

Hannah_at_APP
Hannah_at_APPAdministrator

Hi krodwell, sorry to hear that things have been tough since your PP 6 years ago. I hope having a diagnosis and some suggestions for meds/ other support is helpful to you? I had PP after my eldest was born and took lithium as part of my treatment and recovery for 3 years after and in a reducing dose. I don’t take it any more but found it worked well for me and balanced my mood well to help with recovery. As Teresa has mentioned, the blood level checks and additional bits around thyroid, kidney and liver checks were regularly reviewed and checked and that was the main feature of it for me. I only had one “abnormal” result for thyroid which then righted itself (quite unusual I think/ perhaps a blip as thyroid problems are not uncommon and I’ve heard of others needing synthetic thyroxin... my GP put a positive spin on it tho, as “free prescriptions for life” but I didn’t need it in the end!) You’ve had some other experiences shared here and I’m sure others will write too, but I hope some of this is useful. Take care, xx

runner_mum
runner_mumVolunteer

Hi krodwell, I hope I can help with some of your questions. I have been on lithium for 15 years, I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 when I was 21 and had pp with my second child in 2016.

I have found lithium easy to get on with, I’ve had no side effects and as other posters have mentioned you have routine blood tests every 3 months for lithium level, thyroid, kidney.

After 7 years on lithium I developed an under active thyroid however the endocrinologist at the hospital was unsure if it was caused by lithium because I already have a family history of thyroid issues, so it could of developed for me anyway. It has been easy to manage, just a little tablet everyday and the bonus is I get free prescriptions now!

I think lithium helps me, if I stop taking it I start to wobble so I do notice a difference.

Anything you want to ask just fire away and I can offer my experience. Make sure you have all the information you need from your consultant to make an informed choice

AlexandraJay
AlexandraJayVolunteer

Hello Krodwell,

I was diagnosed with bi polar when I had my first episode of PPP and put on Lithium. I came off it myself and fell pregnant with my son unexpectedly but a blessing as the side effects of taking lithium while pregnant aren't good. I then had another episode of PPP and diagnosed with bi polar again and put on Olanzipine and I took myself off that after 3 months. I was doing somewhat well until this last summer when I had a hypomanic episode unrelated to childbirth and now I take olanzipine and sertraline and desogestrel contraceptive pill so I don't have any hormonal imbalances around menstruation.

The main reason I didn't like lithium was the 3 monthly blood test as I'm quite squeamish but it did work as a mood stabiliser faster than olanzipine.

Hoppe that helps.

Best wishes xxx

Hi,

I suffered from postpartum psychosis after the birth of my son in 2018. I’ve been on lithium since early 2019 and have had no issues with it and it’s helped me get back to normal.

Hope you feel better soon x

Hi I would just like to point out that alongside your GP s medication you may be interested in the relaxing benefits of natural bio identical progesterone cream, after giving birth progesterone levels drop dramatically progestrrone is a hormone and hormones do seem to play a part in pp and sometimes bipolar disorder Natural progesterone cream can sometimes really hit the spot and I suggest you do your own research into it

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