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  1. #1
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    Cognitive effects of Lithium

    I'm frustrated with these side effects and don't know what to do about them.

    -memory impairment
    -problems w/ reading comprehension
    -slower thinking (ok this may not count)
    -lost ability to draw
    -trouble focusing
    -incoordination
    -tremor

    When I talk to my therapist she seems to think I have ADD, that's irritating because I didn't have this before Lithium. In fact I had a very good memory, people commented on that all the time (how do you remember all if that??). I could read a book very quick and recall what was in it. I couldn't focus only when manic or severely depressed. Now I can't draw.

    So since some of this is similar to ADD, I write down stuff in a calendar and notepad but forming a new habit when your memory sucks is a pain I either forget to do it or forget to look at it! This sucks. Because of my memory I can't keep track of time very well either. Any ideas I could add/try?

  2. #2
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    Re: Cognitive effects of Lithium

    Well, we don't try to diagnose anyone online here but I would agree that ADHD isn't the most likely explanation.

    Why were you prescribed lithium and how long have you been taking it?

  3. #3
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    Re: Cognitive effects of Lithium

    Its for bipolar 1 (particularly mania)...I've been on in since late 09. After a series of dose adjustments (upward) I have been pretty stable for 2 months. I have noticed that during manic episodes on lithium some of my ability to draw comes back but overall its been blunted even then. Its like I have traded debilitating mood episode for an over blunted brain. I have talked to my p/doctor about it and he says these are side effects and all he can do s ask me if I want to try anything new like depakote (has similar side effects, may or may not work as good). I'm afraid to risk having another manic episode.

    I just saw my GP and we talked about this too, she didn't think there was anything wrong as far as toxicity but she said it wouldn't hurt to get a level done. All my reflexes were very good and stuff.

    So anyway, what skills should I implement to deal with these problems? I know its kind of dumb but I'm not sure what to try to keep me on track in the right direction...I am also working on this anxiety/panic attack issue I have which is very intimidating and require motivation and focus I don't have.

  4. #4
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    Re: Cognitive effects of Lithium

    Of course, exercise, socialization, and novel environments are good for activating the brain, including cognitive functions.

    I also personally find some of the behavioral tips for ADD helpful though I don't have ADD. For example, reading outside or at the library rather than home where I have more distractions. So it may help to check out the ADD forum.

    depakote (has similar side effects, may or may not work as good).
    My primary concern with Depakote would be the FDA black box warning concerning possible liver damage, hence the importance of liver testing. My family member had liver side effects as far as his labs were concerned, but his liver levels got back to normal after he went off it. To be fair, he was also abusing substances, including alcohol, at the time.

  5. #5
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    Re: Cognitive effects of Lithium

    Interesting you mention novel environments! I was just thinking about how being housebound a lot is draining and boring. Most of the novel places I could go are far away (I live the end of a peninsula that is mostly paved over). I can walk my dog to 3 places, over and over. Everything else is not close and I have no car or money (I have to borrow a car and they don't let me go very far because of the gas or take my dog).

    I do get outside everyday and regularly go the the gym and nature preserve to run...new stuff would be great though. I really feel I'm between and rock and hard place in this situation. What I am hoping for is getting disability this year (I started to apply a year ago but got depressed and didn't go to the interview etc. and after 6 mos they dropped it). First thing, I'm saving for a car!!!

  6. #6
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    Re: Cognitive effects of Lithium

    I do find it pleasantly surprising/shocking sometimes when I find out about something that is in my rural area that I never knew about. I have lived here seven years and I just found out there is a meditation center in the outlying area. That facility may not be interesting to me but some of the people who go there are.

    I borrow one of the cars from my family since there is usually one available, but I will eventually have to buy one.

    ---------- Post added at 09:54 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:38 PM ----------

    regularly go the the gym
    Do they offer yoga classes or other classes or personal training? That may be a way to mix things up for a relatively low cost, at least if done occasionally.

    The yoga classes at the gym here are a full hour, but I haven't signed up for them since I rather do something more intense aerobically but for a lesser period of time, like half an hour -- more like personal training.


  7. #7
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    Re: Cognitive effects of Lithium

    Yoga is a free class ( I'm going to it when my BFF joins, she is saving her money, should be soon). I can't pay for anything right now, so free stuff is what I am looking for. There's a lot of stuff I could do with money and a car.

    I would love to live in a rural area, there are so many neat places out there. I know of some places but they're an hour+ out of this city. I've been here for 30 years (1st chance out of here I'm on it!)

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