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Thread: Help for mom

  1. #1

    Help for mom

    My young at heart, late 60's mom has been diagnosed bipolar since menopause. She was depressed for a few years, although quite functional for most of the time. After many tries on different SSRIs, effexor was found to help her feel happy again.

    For the past two years however, she has been what I can only guess is hypomanic. She talks a lot more than she used to, explaining everything in great detail. She wants to do everything, see everyone, but then gets exhausted and irritable. She has attention problems and memory problems (often linked with conversations). She wakes early and can't get back to sleep. She has had spells of confusion 2 or 3 times. Once it was so extreme, it was thought she had a TIA (runs in her family), but tests were inconclusive. It was found she had high blood pressure.

    I think we all thought the memory issues were due to the TIA or aging, but at one point when mom decided to go off meds (own decision), I found the mother I know best, came back...her voice sounded calm and she didn't repeat herself over and over again...but then the depression set in and she started meds again (understanably). This turn of events, however made me wonder if her memory problems were part of a hypomania induced by her medication.

    My questions: Could the effexor be causing hyomania and memory problems? She does not want to lose the hyper-happy feeling, but is beginning to worry about the memory issues, so is now ready to see a doctor.

    Where should she turn? Mom has moved and doesn't have a family doctor right now. She is reluctant to be refered randomly to a psych because she doesn't want to do the perscription trial and error again. Is there somewhere in Ottawa that she could go to find a doctor who is willing to look at the whole picture and deal with this in a thoughtful way? I know she'll need a physician's referral, but how could she find a good psych. who knows their meds and reactions, etc.

    Sorry for the length, and thanks for your help!

    LSS

  2. #2

    Re: Help for mom

    My questions: Could the effexor be causing hyomania and memory problems? She does not want to lose the hyper-happy feeling, but is beginning to worry about the memory issues, so is now ready to see a doctor.
    Yes, definitely. SSRIs are known to induce hypomania in bipolar disorders.

    The good news is that she doesn't necessarily need to go off the Effexor if it's working for her. What the doctor could do is add in a small amount of a mood stabilizer like Lamictal (lamotrigine) or a small dose of one of the so-called "atypical antipsychotics" (bad name since they are used to treat several other issues in smaller doses).

    I would recommend that you encourage her to make that appointment and discuss her options with her doctor, based on her medical history.

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