More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Starting Medication: What To Expect
Monday, January 15th, 2007
by G.J. Gregory

So you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and started on a med regime. What should you expect?

First, this has been covered many times before, but it bears repeating: You need to take an active role in your treatment. From diagnosis, to prescription, to follow up, you need to be fully involved. When you are issued a prescription, stop and discuss it. Ask about side effects, ask about weight gain, ask about sexual impact, memory impact, motivation impact. You need to know how your life will be affected. If you have to stay alert, you may want to negotiate on some meds. If you can?t sleep, you may have to negotiate on other meds. For example, Seroquel dulls my senses and makes me sleepy. It?s great for my manias and psychotic states, but it makes it difficult for me to work. Depending on your life, what you have to accomplish, and the demands of your work and family, you may need to compromise. But you MUST discuss these issues with your health care provider. Don?t be a passive participant. Be an active one.

Next, even though your side effects may begin on day one, it can take weeks, and maybe months, to get the full benefit from your meds. This can make for some difficult situations. If you are having issues, you need to discuss this. If the side effects are too intense, or the meds are negatively impacting your quality of life, you need to contact your health care provider. Don?t wait three weeks until your next appointment; call them now. Leave a message and ask for a return call when they have an opportunity. Succinctly explain your issues, listen to the response, and come to an agreement on your direction. With a little luck, you may hit on the right treatment the first time. But most likely it will be a long-term process of give and take: a tweak here, a change there. Don?t get discouraged ? it?s something we all go through. Be patient, stay involved, and keep striving for the best balance you can get.

You should be prepared for the changes in your relationships with others. It will most likely be gradual, but those around you may notice your change. The amount of information you give is entirely up to you - there have been several articles on ?coming out? with respect to mood disorders and mental issues. You need to decide what information, if any, is appropriate to disclose in your situation. I disclose my disorder to very few, and have several retorts stored up that I can pull out when needed. I jokingly say I?m a ?product of the seventies?, which covers virtually all scenarios. That brings a laugh, and a change of subject.

Finally, you need to be prepared for a major lifestyle change. It most likely won?t be immediate, but your life WILL change. How it changes depends on your particular symptoms and how they?re being treated. For me, I lost motivation, I lost creativity, I lost sexual interest, I lost much of my passion for the things in life that used to bring me pleasure. I lost my ?edge? in many ways. I had plans to write a book, and I don?t think I can do that now. I have a hard time finding the creativity to even blog. But this being said, I have gained in relationships. I enjoy my kids and family more. I can listen to people. I?m not as controlling as I used to be. My explosive temper is under control. For those around me, life is better. And isn?t that what it?s really about?

Find more information about what to do if you?ve just been diagnosed with bipolar disorder at our Just Diagnosed page.


I feel the same way... the difference is, I like the person I am without the medication and hate who I become when I am on it. I hate taking medication and don't feel productive people should be medicated to please some fat psychiatrist who doesn't know me from a guy passing him on the street.

---------- Post Merged at 06:27 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 06:26 PM ----------

How can anyone expect a person to willingly medicate themselve and become less of a person... but not care that there life is going to end up in the toilet?!


I hate taking medication and don't feel productive people should be medicated to please some fat psychiatrist who doesn't know me from a guy passing him on the street.

What has caused such a bitter perception of your doctor? Most doctors make rational decisions about prescribed treatment, based on examination, tests and diagnosis.

In your experience how has this process differed to cause your apparent disdain for your doctor?


Dear Chantelle,
I feel very sad for you if that is your view of life and of people who take medication. You must have incredible disdain (as Steve said) for your psychiatrist and for all people who take medication including diabetics, people who suffer from epilepsy, asthmatic children, stroke victims,... I could go on and on. I personally have worked very hard with my various psychiatrists and psychologists, social workers to find balance in my life and to be happier, but mostly to still be alive. I have made compromises along the way but ultimately, my life is a better one, yes, it's best on my medication. I am a better partner, daughter, sister, worker, care giver, but most of all, I am better to myself and do not want to drive my car into a brick wall at high speed every day. I do not see my life as being in the toilet, and if you must see me as a lesser person, so be it. I will pray for you too tonight.:)
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