In addition to sz, I also have Bipolar 2 Disorder. And, I’m a rapid-cycler. One full mania-depression cycle occurs every 7-10 days. Then, it repeats. There is rarely a latent period between cycles. I have been this way since high school (graduated in 1989). Here are the bipolar meds I have tried:
- Lithium carbonate
- Abilify — has worked wonders for my sz but not my bp
My cycles include hypomanic episodes that are characterized by increased energy and focus, sociability and staying awake and alert for 40-60 hours. My depressions are characterized by helplessness, hopelessness, and thoughts of killing myself. I have tried lithium carbonate for almost the last two years, with no success. I was at my wit’s end.
So, I decided to do some research on treatment-resistant Bipolar Disorder (bp). I saw information on Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS), and repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS). I’ve tried ECT with no results. VNS involves implanting an electrode in your chest that hooks into your vagus nerve. Periodic impulses are sent to the vagus nerve and these impulses are carried to the brain to relieve depression. rTMS involves repetitively passing a magnet over parts of your head with the purpose of relieving depression. These remedies obviously work for some, and if need be, I will try them. However, I came across another, much less invasive treatment: LEVOTHYROXINE (a.k.a. L-thyroxine).
I went to see my therapist last Friday. We were doing a 5-minute mindfulness meditation exercise when I interrupted it and asked her to see if she could get me in to see my psychiatrist that afternoon. With some insistence and persistence, I was successful. I had an article in hand which I had shown to my therapist. When I got into my psychiatrist’s office, I told him about L-thyroxine and its unorthodox role in specifically treating Bipolar 2 Disorder with rapid cycling. He looked skeptical, so I showed him the article from a well-respected psychiatric journal. He still didn’t like the idea, so I pushed:
“I’ve been this way for 30 years, and I am tired of the fight. I’m ready to try the unusual. I’m ready to be a guinea pig. Besides, I’ve been awake for 54 hours.”
My psychiatrist is a good doctor, very intelligent and gentle. As you will see if you read these articles, there are cases of people being given 200-600 micrograms of L-thyroxine without any apparent harmful side effects, including cardiac issues and osteoporosis. Apparently, people with this specific type of bp metabolize L-thyroxine differently than others. I hope I am one of them, and if you think you could benefit from this pharmacotherapy, I hope you are one of them, too.
- High-dose levothyroxine for the management of bipolar affective disorder: two case reports
- New Treatment for Bipolar Depression
- Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder in Adults
P.S. My pdoc started me on 25mcg of L-thyroxine. At least he is open to the idea. 🙂