Are My Bipolar Medications Too Strong?

Q: I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder for almost 2 years now. I have been prescribed Abilify 30 mg and Cymbalta 60mg. Two side effects I dislike are as follows…

Reader’s Question

I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder for almost 2 years now. I have been prescribed Abilify 30 mg and Cymbalta 60mg. Two side effects I dislike are as follows…

For one, my libido is nonexistent. I never want to be intimate with my boyfriend. It hurts his feelings, but I just don’t enjoy sex. Also, I feel like the medicine suppresses my passion and my creativity. I have horrible writer’s block, whereas, when I was manic, I had racing thoughts and great ideas to write. I don’t feel like I can fully feel my emotions. I don’t get sad or feel guilty anymore when I hurt other people’s feelings…it’s like I’m numb. What do you suggest? I imagine it’s too dangerous to get off my medication. Are there other meds out there with fewer side effects, meds to add to my regimen that would increase my libido and/or creativity, or should my dosages of current meds just be adjusted?

Thank you for any response.

Psychologist’s Reply

Adjusting medications in Bipolar Disorder can be very difficult. It’s like adjusting the color and brightness on a television set — not enough medications and the picture brightens into a hypomanic episode (euphoria, racing thoughts, spending, etc.) and too much medication and the picture tones down to black and white. Your medications can be adjusted to obtain an acceptable balance. We have a variety of medications available.

If you’ve had a recent manic episode and are recovering, the medications may now be too strong. Talk to your psychiatrist and discuss the situation. This is very common. Above all, don’t abruptly stop the medications or reduce them on your own. That might prompt a manic episode that can be very damaging to you emotionally, socially, financially, etc.

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