Posted by barbaracat on January 21, 2005, at 10:43:29
In reply to Mood stabilizers and Juvenile Rhuematoid Arthritis, posted by resa on January 20, 2005, at 20:16:50
Dear Resa, welcome to our group. I can relate quite well with your dilemma since so much of it is familiar. I have fibromyalgia, which began to surface in earnest in 1998. Along with my long-standing mood disorder, this extra physical burden made life unbearable. Many physical problems were associated, hypothyroidism, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.
I'd always believed a had major depression and was being treated for it. I never associated my particular symptoms with what you typically hear about bipolar so never made the connection. The serotonin drugs worked OK for a while but eventually turned against me big time and my life became one big constant panic attack and physical pain. My pdocs would just increase the SSRI's.
A few years ago, mainly due to this board, I suggested to my pdoc that I might be bipolar and we tried lithium. It took a little while for my chemistry to settle down, but it was definitely the right decision. I'm no means 'better' but feel I have my life back, and many of my other symptoms have improved. Prior to this, the stress from trying to deal with my horrible emotional state was wearing me out.
If you're bipolar, you must treat that first. That's an unwritten credo. Nothing else is going to 'take' in your emotional or physical treatments and believe me, it does not get better on it's own but worsens with time. You may still need a serotonin based med (so much of the problems you mention and I deal with have some basis in a serotonin disorder) but without a successful mood stabilizer, the typical antidepressants are poison for a bipolar.
You might also look into seeing a nutritionally oriented physician. I had alot of hormonal testing, intestinal bacterial tests, blood sugar, etc. and there were quite a few things off. Who knows what contributes to what and it's all interrelated. You've got to approach it from all levels. But to give it a fighting chance, you need to remove that huge neurological bottleneck. I'm grateful that lithium worked so well for me. It's allowed other meds to work better as well. But there are others out there that work better for other people. Such a trial and error business. You'd think we'd be able to have a full diagnostic body scan by now instead of this dart-board approach. Good luck and keep us posted. - BarbaraCat
Hello, This is my first time, so... it's scary? (in a good way)
> Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone out there has other chronic illnesses that make significant contributions to their moods - like rhuematoid arthritis?
> I was diagnosed with JRA at 11, and have been suffering with chronic pain and fatigue for 20 years. The past year has been tremenedously difficult and I have sought out psychological help and been prescribed anti-depressents like wellbutrin and lexapro (with no great results). Because of chronic arthritic pain, fibromyalgia, bone degeneration in the TM joint, slippage at C1-C2, and severe arthritis in C4-5, I have also been on many other drugs like neurontin, zyprexa, vicodin, mobic, skelaxin, diazepam, AMITRIPTYLINE, GABAPENTIN, CYCLOBENZAPRINE, LEVAQUIN, and SULFAMETH to ease the suffering (again, with no great benefit). In December there was an overload (or more accurately, a meltdown) and I was in the ICU from an overdose of Elavil (amitriptyline). It's now become painfully clear that the highs/lows are bipolar manic/depressive episodes and dangerous to myself and my relationships. I always just thought I was naturally enthusiastic.
> My question I guess is this: with a chronic illness that is so heavily integrated with your moods, how do you know which to treat first and how? I know I feel better when my body doesn't hurt (treat the physical side!), but I also know that my body doesn't hurt as much when I am in a good mood (treat the mind!). I feel like all of my doctors are on different pages and they are all just guessing! How can you get full mind and body care?
> I've always felt like I need the highs to make up for the lows, but finally I am in a relationship that I want to stick around and my constant mood swings, irritablitly and unpredictability are wearing thin on both of us.
> Any thoughts or advice would be cherished.