Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Atypical Antipsychotics Discussion

A controversial topic here, and I’m not taking sides one way or the other.

Who out there can claim a significant increase in quality of life based on the use of atypical antipsychotics? Atypical antipsychotics include the following medications:

Clozapine (Clozaril)
Risperidone (Risperdal)
Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
Quetiapine (Seroquel)
Ziprasidone (Geodon)
Aripiprazole (Abilify)
Paliperidone (Invega)
Sertindole (Serlect)

Almost all of us can point to negative affects from these medications. Weight gain, long-term health issues such as diabetes or thyroid problems, trembling hands, involuntary muscle movements, and other side effects. But I’m wondering if positive stories outweigh negative where atypicals are concerned.

Next, and don’t bite my head off here, if you need atypicals for occasional relief from anxiety, stress, or mania, would something else, perhaps even marijuana, give any temporary relief?

Next, are you on one of the bipolar disorder maintenance medications? I only know of 2 meds approved by the FDA for maintenance of bipolar disorder, Lithium and Lamictal. If you are not on one of these maintenance meds, is there a reason? Would they, perhaps, be ineffective against the particular flavor of bipolar disorder you have?

Please don’t think this will be used as a condemnation of psych meds, most of you know me better than that. I am truly interested in the responses, and plan to write about these responses, whichever side they fall on.

I would appreciate if you would fill out the polls then leave a comment with your honest response. I’m not interested in a laundry list of the meds you’ve been on, most of us have a long list. I’m interested in whether or not you’ve taken atypicals, and what atypicals have made an actual improvement in your quality of life. Don’t hesitate to answer anonymously if you would rather not be recognized. And please pass this link along to others so they can add their responses. It would be great to have a large number of responses so we can all benefit from this information.

Update: I've moved the polls to the right sidebar


Stacy said...


I have had my quality of life in prove while on Abilify, however, I reached a plateau in my treatment, and I needed to up the meds and due to the side effects, I was unable to tolerate a dose that would would have helped my moods. My son had similar reaction to Abilify. However, Seroquel has helped both me and my son quite a bit.

My husband's Dr just doubled his dose of Invega (however he does not have a firm BP dx, more likely schizoaffective disorder) and it does seem to be improving his quality of life. He is much more stable.

I hope this is the type of info you were looking for. If not, feel free to email me at


Anonymous said...

had difficulty clicking meds correctly...

ariadneK, Ph.D. said...

I take Abilify, and it has truly been a life-changing experience for me. Though I HAVE had to deal with some weight gain (and I'm not totally on an even keel right now: a little bit on the manic side of life), Abilify has been great.

Dream Writer said...

Marijuana is known to be the worst for Bipolar - I've read about, heard about it, and talked about it with my shrink..

Its a depressant whether people want to believe it or not - it chills you out, makes you laid back..yes, but it can bring you down and actually BIPOLAR ALONE kills our brain cells we don't need Pot to add to the death of more brain cells.

I am on Lithium and to be honest, I hate to say it but it is the BEST drug I've taken since being Bipolar.

NO weight gain, NO hair loss, NO hand trembling, No nothing but being Thirsty a lot and having Metal Mouth Taste.

I have actually LOST weight and feel better than ever... so Good that I am going back to college at 40 years old!

Jon said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments. So far, all positive.

Stacy - great to hear from you! Hope things are OK in your world.

Anonymous - The surveys are very slow to load. I wish I'd used a different service for this. But they are working, sometimes you have to click them a few times. And they are 3 separate surveys, so 3 clicks.

Ari - from the pics you've posted, your weight gain could not have been significant. And do we really want an even keel? I want to keep highs and lows, I just want to eliminate the extremes.

DW - I self medicated for many years. Chicken or egg - did it cause the disorder, or did the disorder cause the self-medication? And I'm like you, except my maintenance med is Lamictal. I feel fantastic, I've lost 20 pounds since the first of the year, and I'm comfortably stable. But memory loss is very disturbing, I'll cover that in another post.

Keep the votes and comments coming!

Dream Writer said...

WOW!! I love it the new look!! So awesome. When it first came up..I was like Whoa did I go to the right place...LOL!!

Totally cool!

Jon said...

Thanks, DW. I still have a lot of tweaking to do, I'm not crazy about the colors, and the top header I'm not crazy about, either. But I love the 3 column style.

marja said...

There's one atypical anti-psychotic you don't list here. It's something not used by very many doctors: flupenthixol (fluanxol). I've been on it for the last several years and love it, though it does cause tremors now and then. The beautiful thing about it is that it's non-sedative. I get up at 6:30 every morning, looking forward to the day. When I was on other meds, like zyprexa, I always had a hard time getting up in the morning. On flupenthixol I feel truly alive.

ariadneK, Ph.D. said...

The template ROCKS! Keep up the good work...

Amanda said...

I've never taken any type of brain medication though I certainly feel tempted to do so time and again.

At first the reason was fear of side-effects. Then it was the realization, that my current mental state is not much different to that of many who do take medications.

Jon said...

Marja - thanks for that. My atypical list came right from wikipedia. It's so good to hear success stories.

Thanks, Ari! I'm still not satisfied, but I never am.

Amanda - medication is absolutely a personal decision, and nobody can say you should or shouldn't medicate. For me it came down the question of whether or not my family would be better off.

Amanda said...

I absolutely agree with you Jon. Because of my own experience with a bipolar father I was already aware how difficult this can be for the family. So my husband's opinion played a major role in my decision. I wouldn't have made this choice without his agreement.

jane said...

I've tried 2 of those mentioned & was never able to stay on them. Lamictal gave me extremely adverse reactions. I can't take lithium as I'm diabetic. At what dreamwriter said about pot, it makes me paranoid & hyper, otherwise I'd love to be mellowed out on just 1 puff of something.
I take 1/2 xanax for stress.
I take neurontin as my mood stabilizer & I've probably tried over 10, neurontin is the only one I can take w/o bad side effects. Plus, I was put on it before the company abused it's powers & tried to get it approved for EVERYTHING. I don't know if people can be put on it anymore, but for me, it's a wonder drug.
Not sure which type of BP I am, not the manic type, that's for sure. So whichever is more the depressed type, will you let me know please?

Gianna said...

you won't hear me say anything positive about antipsychotics. risperdal made my period stop and added to agitation and irritability. seroquel made me gain a ton of weight and made me a total zombie. (risperdal and depakote made me gain weight too) I'm currently coming off all my meds and no worse for it. I could tell you about all the other drugs that slowly made me deteriorate but you asked us not too so I won't.

I have nothing positive to say about psych meds. Unfortunately you probably won't hear from all the other people with horror stories because they probably don't read your blog. I can direct you to places where you can read about them...including my blog.

I wish I could send you peoples personal stories as shared to me in email, but they've asked me to keep them private.

marijuana makes me delusional and once the delusions wear off I'm manic for several weeks.

Gianna said...

by the way...I do appreciate your blog...I hope I didn't sound too harsh.

Jon said...

Amanda - great comment, our significant others have as much stake in this as we do.

Jane - I really don't pay much attention to the labels, they tell me I'm bipolar 2. I've known the difference in the past, but my memory, she ain't so good no more...

Gianna - this is exactly why I put up this post, so we can get a good discussion going, and open people's minds to the issue. I know they can be damaging, but I also know that there are many people who's quality of life has been changed and enhanced by their use. Is the upside worth the downside? That's what interests me. Not that I'll ever get an answer in this little corner of the blogosphere, but it's still interesting. And I appreciate your blog, and hope you don't find my comments too harsh there. We have a lot in common, yet I value our differences. That's how I learn, by exposure to every side of a question.

Gianna said...

thanks for being generous with me after my little rant. I wish there were more of "us" out there who actually visit blogs where we don't agree with everything.

I agree, we have a lot in common, but may interpret things very differently. It's what we have in common, regardless of interpretation, that can allow us to have compassion for everyone in the mental health zoo.

And don't ever hesitate to share on my blog...anything you like...

Anonymous said...

I was on Zyprexa (2.5 mg) for three months. All it did was turn me into a zombie. I hated feeling indifferent towards everything! After three months I finally took myself off and never went back to that particular shrink again...