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Rat Queen/Mouse Matriarch
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Currently, I'm taking lamotrigine (a.k.a. lamictal) as a mood stabilizer for bipolar II disorder and alprazolam (a.k.a. xanax) as needed if my panic/anxiety get out of control (I have panic disorder w/ agoraphobia and social phobia). Anti-depressants have NEVER worked for me, they've always always worsened my moods, pushed me toward agitation/rage/mania, and caused more anxiety. My new psychiatrist recognizes this and would like me to try an anti-psychotic (abilify) for the long-term. I've taken other anti-psychotics in the past (before bipolar diagnosis and before lamictal) such as zyprexa (way too much weight gain), geodon (couldn't sleep), and ridperdal/risperidone (really helped with hallucinations but I asked to be taken off of this med once I became more stable and hallucinations ended).

I know everyone has the potential to react to medications differently but I was wondering if anyone could share their experiences on abilify so I might know what to expect and if others have had success with it. Since I've had such horrible luck with medications in the past (primarily anti-depressants), I'm very apprehensive about starting a new medication and I suppose I'm posting for more information as well as reassurances. Thanks so much.
 

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I was prescribed it awhile ago but honestly never stuck with it. By that I mean, I took one pill then freaked out, had a panic attack and never took the rest of them... but I have an intense fear of medication. I have a habit of looking up all the negative side effects of the meds I am prescribed, obsessing over them and not being able to actually take the drugs
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Sorry I'm no help but I can tell you that Abilify is crazy expensive without insurance (or at least was so last time I checked) so unless you have really good insurance maybe try to get samples at first.
 

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Rat Queen/Mouse Matriarch
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fadeaway1289 View Post

I was prescribed it awhile ago but honestly never stuck with it. By that I mean, I took one pill then freaked out, had a panic attack and never took the rest of them... but I have an intense fear of medication. I have a habit of looking up all the negative side effects of the meds I am prescribed, obsessing over them and not being able to actually take the drugs
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Sorry I'm no help but I can tell you that Abilify is crazy expensive without insurance (or at least was so last time I checked) so unless you have really good insurance maybe try to get samples at first.
I understand how you feel. It took a few months of convincing from a previous therapist before I was able to start on lamotrigine. Got a rash from it (not the dangerous kind) and panicked, therapist and p-doc calmed me down. Picked up the abilify today and noticed it was close to $700 without insurance, yikes. >.< That's more than my monthly income and more than our rent! Luckily, I only had to pay $3. I really worry what I'd do if I lost insurance coverage because including the other meds I take, it would be close to $900/mo. Hopefully there will be a generic form eventually. Thanks for the response!

Someone else I spoke with said they were vomiting for about a week after starting abilify but that the nausea mostly went away. We'll see how it goes.
 

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Rat Queen/Mouse Matriarch
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks! Agreed, they do seem extremely overpriced. I don't know how those that are uninsured can afford it, many probably go without.

I'm making a big pitcher of iced ginger tea and have ginger cookies on hand just in case I get hit with the crazy nausea.
 

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Just wanted so say that I hope it works for you - without any difficult side effects! My husband just started on an antidepressant this week. He's feeling some odd things, but hasn't noticed any mood benefit yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hope everything works out for your husband too, waiting weeks/months for the full effects of a medication while experiencing all the negative side effects can be daunting.


Took my first dose last night and so far it isn't as bad as I thought it would be. There is some nausea that I've been able to control with ginger tea/cookies and relaxation. My appetite is decreased due to the nausea. I've also been experiencing some dizziness/lightheadedness so I lie down when necessary and make sure I get up very slowly. The weirdest side effect has been seeing sort of a strobe light effect in my eyes for a few seconds at a time. It's only happened a few times so I'm not too worried. Next time it happens, I'll have a 3 second dance party.
 

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my aunt's husband was started on abilify and basically he went crazy. finally, some doctor had the sense to pull him off that and now he's doing much better.

i'd say if you're going to be on these meds, i'd have someone who really cares for you monitor you and tell you if you're not acting right.

psych meds are extremely powerful, and my observations with people on them is they tend . to take a pill for everything, such that their medlist is 20 to 30 pills a day, and in reality they'd be better off if they weren't taking any of them but instead were exercising and eating properly - and not partying with alcohol or drugs either.

good luck, i'd just tread very carefully here, and be sure you understand the interactions of the meds you're taking.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by papayamon View Post

psych meds are extremely powerful, and my observations with people on them is they tend . to take a pill for everything, such that their medlist is 20 to 30 pills a day, and in reality they'd be better off if they weren't taking any of them but instead were exercising and eating properly - and not partying with alcohol or drugs either.
This is not my experience at all. I work in an acute pychhiatric inpatient setting. Diet and exercise are an important component of wellness, but for people with brain chemistry issues, they won't be changed without medication.

I've seen lots of people do well with a fairly low dose of Abilify, but I truely think that over all, Lamictal has less side effects. Monitor your experience. Work with your doc. Remember that many side effects are temporary.
 

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Rat Queen/Mouse Matriarch
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for your concern.
Yes, I'm very resistant to anti-depressants (even in combination with a mood stabilizer) and as a teenager especially, they had me try all sorts of meds that caused me to become even more unstable and when those didn't work, they suggested ECT which I wasn't up for. For a few years, I avoided all doctors and medications but I was absolutely debilitated by depressive episodes and couldn't even care for myself. There were brief periods where I could function better and was unrealistically positive and enthusiastic (hypomania) and also periods of extreme agitation where I was a ball of rage. During my last hospitalization (I've been hospitalized about 9 times since my teen years), I had another horrible reaction to an anti-depressant and was more correctly diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. It took a few months after that to convince me to take a mood stabilizer (lamotrigine) but I'm glad I did because it's the only medication I've tried that actually keeps me stable enough to stay out of the hospital and I'm able to take better care of myself. I've been in ongoing therapy since the last hospitalization for about 3-4 years and still have many issues with stress, depression and anxiety. The new psychiatrist believes adding abilify along with the lamotrigine will help and I hope she's right. My previous psychiatrist kept trying to prescribe more anti-d's when it was very obvious I've been on several, even tried a couple while under his care and they hadn't worked. He didn't know what to do for me so I'm very glad I've switched doctors. After all the crap I've been through being given the wrong medications, first due to being improperly diagnosed for 7 years and then having a less knowledgeable doctor for a few more, I'd like to think I'm pretty careful about what I take and how much I'm prescribed. I'll always go with the lower doses and the less meds, the better to me. Others being on 20-30 pills at a time does sound pretty crazy though. (No pun intended.)

Every day, I wish I could be 'cured' without meds because I HATE relying on a pill to be more like myself, it makes me feel like a defective human being. At this time, it doesn't seem to be a possibility for me but once I build up my ability to cope, I'll gladly ask for a decrease in meds as long as I can remain stable. We do try to eat a healthy, well balanced, vegan diet. I've kept my weight more stable this way and it keeps me active because cooking is a more enjoyable experience for me now. I have trouble going out due to the agoraphobia but we've been working on doing indoor exercises and strength training when I'm able. I really miss going to aikido (martial arts) class. Again, there was a period where I was able to go every session, then I'd have panic/depressive issues and needed a break, then I started going infrequently and for the past several months, not at all. Slowly working toward changing that.

So far, I don't think I feel much of a difference from abilify but it could take time to work. The side effects lessen every day so I think I'll be able to stick with it.
 

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I really hope it works for you Rhys. It sounds like you've been through a great ordeal and your will and determination are admirable. You are in no way defective for taking the meds and you should't make yourself feel bad or guilty about it! Glad to hear the side effects are lessening.
 

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I COMPLETELY know how you feel about hating to be on meds! I hope that sometime in the future, another option will be recognized. I feel like I am always at the pharmacy, idk I am on 3 prescriptions daily plus a few more every time I get sick. The sad part is that I used to be very anti-medication, but I got to a point where I really did not have another option :/

Type I bipolar, rapid cycle, with psychotic features... gosh, I don't even want to think about when it was at its worst! I've had psychiatrists tell me that I had the most extreme case out of all of their patients. Gee thanks doc, that makes me feel wonderful.

Lamictal got me out of the primary state of mania with paranoia and psychotic features. But... it put me in a constant state of depression. NOTHING like the "the thought of getting up for a drink makes me so tired that I cry and sleep for hours" depression, again with paranoia and delusions. At one point there was this whole big ordeal, but it resulted in me being off lamictal for too long and going on depakote rather than start the slow increase process for lamictal. BIG MISTAKE! As if my thyroid disease didn't cause enough weight gain already, this made me so much fatter! UGHHHH! Then at I went into another severe psychotic depression, probably because I would forget to take my meds all the time. Whoops. I then added Wellbutrin, which got rid of all the ugh... bad thoughts associated with depression. Eventually dropped the Depakote but still not losing weight (wtf?!), still on the lamictal and wellbutrin, recently added adderall.

I'm not sure where I was going with this... oh yeah, have you tried wellbutrin? I had no side effects, and it definitely helped. No mania when I went on it because of the lamictal. Lol
 

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I've been on Abilify for a few months (along with Prozac). I was taking Seroquel before and couldn't stand the side effects, so my doctor switched me to Abilify. So far so good. The only thing I noticed was feeling a bit drowsier than usual, but that only lasted a few weeks. But I also know people who have taken it who have had horrible side effects with it. So it all depends on how you handle medications, I suppose. I hope this was helpful. And I hope it works out for you.
 

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Rat Queen/Mouse Matriarch
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
It's good to know there are people out there that can relate but I'm also sorry for any depressions/manias you all have experienced. Thanks for sharing and for the support.
I've also had trouble with psychotic features during depressive episodes but Lamictal seems to keep most of that at bay. As long as I take it every day, the lows don't seem to be as low as they were and hypomania is less frequent (bipolar II here). Since depression has still kept me from doing the things I'd like and from continuing to work on my panic/phobias, I decided to find a doc that wouldn't give me anti-depressants and try something new.

Have not tried Welbutrin yet, I'd be afraid since it's an anti-depressant but seems to be a good sign that it's working out for you without pushing you toward mania, mellybee. I'll keep that in mind if my doc feels an anti-depressant is worth another shot. Thanks! I also know what you mean about quitting Lamictal. I did it just once when I was just starting out because I was so anti-medication at the time. Depression got worse and it was verification for me that yep, it was helping me and I needed to be on meds.

As for abilify, the nausea and lightheadedness are greatly reduced. Had frequent urination for a bit as well as stronger urges to urinate but that's almost back to normal. Still getting the strobe light effect, no clue why since it's an anti-psychotic but it's not as frequent so that will probably go away. Seem to be stuck with higher energy levels (this is a very good thing but energy + negative emotions can turn into a bit of agitation/irritability, I've been coping). I managed to clean most of the bathroom in one go, normally I'd become completely exhausted pretty quickly. I'm also now able to go out for walks occasionally. There's more anxiety with increased energy but I've been practicing my relaxation techniques and taking a Xanax when absolutely necessary. Despite all that, I think I'm doing well with small improvements! I hope abilify is working out for you too, sequoia.


Thanks again for the input and reassurances, everyone!
 

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I pretty much have exactly the same condition that you do. My doctor wanted to put me on Abilify, but chose to put me on Seroquel instead, I think because he said it would act faster or it was cheaper or something. I've had tremedous luck with the Seroquel, its improved by condition immensely, but I have to stay well fed and hydrated at all times or I start getting woozy/confused. As long as I take care of myself I feel normal.

I'm also on Lamictal, or I was.. My insurance doesn't cover it and I haven't been able to afford a refill. I think my moods have gotten more uneven as a result, but theres not much I can do about it.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by candlejackle View Post

I pretty much have exactly the same condition that you do. My doctor wanted to put me on Abilify, but chose to put me on Seroquel instead, I think because he said it would act faster or it was cheaper or something. I've had tremedous luck with the Seroquel, its improved by condition immensely, but I have to stay well fed and hydrated at all times or I start getting woozy/confused. As long as I take care of myself I feel normal.

I'm also on Lamictal, or I was.. My insurance doesn't cover it and I haven't been able to afford a refill. I think my moods have gotten more uneven as a result, but theres not much I can do about it.
Does Seroquel give you horrifying, realistic nightmares? That's the reason I had to switch to Abilify.
 

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One of my friends was put on seroquel before, and it made her do the WEIRDEST things! I think it was some form of sleepwalking, because she seemed functional but was unable to acknowledge anyone was around. She would go into the kitchen and throw the most random things into a bowl, then wrap it up and label it "lunch" or something. I'm talking pickles, hummus, peanut butter, cereal, yogurt, cottage cheese... all together. Yes. Clearly she would never eat it the next day, but it always made for an interesting story when she woke up
 

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Deleted several posts regarding the "heal yourself with diet" theme. Some good bits were removed along with the bad, so please don't be offended if you had some non-offensive statements removed.


Time for a re-boot.
 

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Rat Queen/Mouse Matriarch
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Another update: Now I'm being told that I may need bloodwork done every few to several months to monitor my glucose and cholesterol. My previous tests (before abilify) were excellent so I'm hoping the addition of abilify hasn't effected me much. Having the first set of bloodwork done within the week to see if anything's changed. I'm wondering though if it's really worth the trouble and the risk. My lamictal dose has been boosted successfully (no migraines, hooray!) so the abilify may become less necessary. Once I determine how I'm doing on the higher lamictal dosage, I may ask to be taken off abilify entirely even though I have noticed some mood improvement while on it.
 
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