Suffering Through Bipolar Medication Side Effects

July 18, 2017 Natasha Tracy

Bipolar medication side effects are awful and suffering through bipolar medication side effects feels endless. Learn about dealing with medication side effects.I am suffering through a long bout of bipolar medication side effects. Side effects, withdrawal effects, call them what you like, they are caused by the use of medication. And I am white-knuckling it. I know that, in my case, there are no options better than this very sucky one. But I tell you, I hate suffering through bipolar medication side effects.

Suffering with New Bipolar Medication Side Effects

My psychiatrist and I added a new medication to my cocktail a few weeks ago and I’m still in the throes of its side effects. As most people know, when you start a new medication side effects are expected, but they are also expected to wean over time. Not all will, of course, but many do. The thing about this is that “over time” is very vague and “over time” can mean months. Really. (This is why I beg people not to give up on medications too soon.)

In my case, when I started the new medication it was actually okay but as time passed and the dose increased, the side effects became debilitating. Now I really do feel like I’m hanging from a cliff for dear life barely making it through each day.

In my case, the drug took time to build up in my system and that’s why the side effects were not prompt. It is also the case that I’m taking another medication that potentiates (increases) the effects of this new medication. I didn’t realize this until my psychiatrist’s appointment last week.

Combatting Bipolar Medication Side Effects – With More Medication

And so now, in the worst of all worlds, I’ve had to get off an original medication and add another to try and handle the bipolar medication side effects I’m suffering through. No part of this is ideal. But this is a reality for many. It’s why medication cocktails suck so much. They are so complicated, you never know what will happen when you add and subtract. Everyone is just left guessing.

Continuing to Suffer from Bipolar Medication Side Effects

Some might argue that weeks of suffering is probably a bit much and the initially-added medication should go. I could see why you would say that, but it’s complicated. See, that originally-added medication is making me not want to kill myself and most would consider that quite a win.

So white-knuckle I must. I have to suffer. Bipolar treatment is about suffering – until it isn’t. I must suffer until something works. Yes, I realize this is why people don’t like treatment, but it’s also why it’s worth keeping at it. I’ve had miracle drugs/cocktails come into my life and change everything. Those effects haven’t lasted forever, but they do happen.

And while removing medication might remove side effects, it also allows the suffering of the illness to take hold with no hope of it letting up. (This isn’t true for all people. Some, maybe most, experience times of euthymia [symptom-free times] but I don’t.) So at least while I’m suffering on medication there’s hope. It’s a bleak thing, but it’s real.

I will keep on suffering through bipolar medication side effects until we find the right combination. It's worth it.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2017, July 18). Suffering Through Bipolar Medication Side Effects, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

April, 7 2024 at 5:08 pm

Can anything other than starving get rid of the seroquel weight gain. I’m sick of being a fat lady. I don’t eat fried food food, sugar or fat, yet In 60 lbs overweight. Because of CFIDS I can’t do strenuous exercise. Any suggestions?

April, 8 2024 at 12:38 pm

Hi Margaret,
I'm sorry you're experiencing such weight gain. I know how hard that is. I've been there.
It sounds like you're trying really hard to control your diet -- but keep in mind that antipsychotics can physically change the way you metabolize food, not to mention how hungry you feel, so it's understandable that losing weight is challenging.
My best advice is to be open with your doctor about your concerns and see what they say. Weight gain is a medical issue and needs to be treated as such. You may find seeing a dietician helpful. A weight loss medication may be right for you, or it may be a matter of changing medications (if that's an option for you). There are many antipsychotics available, and if you haven't tried them, they may be worth a look.
And please be gentle with yourself. Remember, this is not your failing. This is a medical issue complicated by other health issues. It's hard.
Good luck.
-- Natasha Tracy

September, 7 2017 at 12:19 pm

Is it worth it? NO. I don't think so and their are other ways. Years and years of bad side effects lead me to a different option. I challenge you to read: A Mind of Your Own by Kelly Brogan. She opened my eyes after 28 years of suffering.

August, 7 2017 at 11:39 am

Why does no one mention their medications? It really would help but NO ONE DOES

Tough Love
August, 7 2017 at 3:08 am

... and yes Edel I am "down to earth" or as you say it "down in the dirt". It's all a matter of perspective, isn't it

Tough Love
August, 5 2017 at 9:58 am

Perhaps you should take your own advice... I noticed you conveniently didn't tag your "Suffering Through Bipolar Medication Side Effects" article with the one you wrote earlier in March of this year, "Side Effects Of Bipolar Medication Side Effects And How To Treat Them"…
I guess you'd rather complain and have people feel sorry for you...

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Tough Love
August, 7 2017 at 6:14 pm

By the way, I liked your article on self soothing. You're definitely on the right track
Creating your own healthy self soothing kit by focusing on the 5 senses (taste, sight, touch, smell, hearing). Learning how to engage each one in a healthy way is another coping tool for the toolbox. I found the Internet full of ideas. It sounds a bit gimmicky and it won't solve all your problems but it's a start. It certainly can't hurt

Tough Love
August, 2 2017 at 2:31 am

Think back to how your life was before medication. Were you any happier back then? Has medication substantially improved the quality of your life or has it made it worse
Therein lies your answer...

Tough Love
July, 22 2017 at 10:42 am

Oh honestly, give it a rest already. You must have mentioned at least a dozen times how much you are suffering and how unique you are because you have treatment resistant depression. You are like a colicky baby. A drama queen. Nobody likes to listen to that over and over. The fact is we all suffer and yes some more than others. That is a part of life.
I'm so sick and tired of people on these blogs also complaining about how people with mental illness are treated differently than people with a physical illness. I totally get it but that is no reason to continue to wallow in your pain
I have bipolar 1 which is a more severe form of the disorder. But complaining about how unfair it is to have a mental illness is not helpful. My experience has been the more you focus on the problem the bigger it gets. So what can you do instead right this moment to try to help yourself and improve your quality life. Try to make THAT your focus, take baby steps if you have to.
If you still think you've got it bad then read this article. While this guy's obvious primary issues are physical his not so obvious yet highly likely issues are also with depression. At least one would think so. I found his story very inspiring and easily applicable to anyone suffering from depression or simply someone just trying to cope with a difficult situation

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Edel Williams
July, 27 2017 at 9:58 pm

Unstoppable, I find your answer to the above blog highly insulting, "well my illness is worse than yours and you don't see me whining"!! Mental illness is mental illness, period! There are degrees of it certainly, but to tell someone you are worse off than them is just downright wrong. I suffer with Bipolar 2 - I'm a rapid cycler - and I could say that my illness is worse than yours, but then I'd be down in the dirt where you are so I'm not going there. Any information on mental illness is welcomed by most of the community of those who struggle. If you don't like this blog and others like it (those who complain - your words not mine...), then don't read it/them. Do yourself a favour, just stop subscribing to them - do the rest of us a favour and take your negativity towards those sharing THEIR valid opinions somewhere else. I do agree with Natasha, bipolar illness is about suffering - knuckling down and riding out the highs and climbing out of the lows. To a large degree, we DO suffer in silence. We can lose friends, we alienate the people we work with, we can even alienate family. Its debilitating enough without having members of this same community tell us to shut up and just get on with it. That's the type of reply some of us get from those who don't have to walk in our shoes and don't understand the debilitating nature of mental illness. You say you do, but still you comment like you do. My grandmother used to say, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.' If your goal was to share the like to the article you want others to read, you could have done that without tearing this article and this author to pieces. Shame on You!!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Tough Love
July, 31 2017 at 6:28 pm

Hey Edel
My opinion is as valid as any other's sweetie! I speak my truth and you speak yours. I feel no need to apologize, nor will I.
The highs and lows of bipolar 1 ARE indeed more severe than those of bipolar 2. Ask any mental health professional. Equally true, is that there will always be people worse off than me, you or whoever in this world. You can sit there acting pitiful and feel sorry for yourself if that's your thing. Become a magnet for all the other co-depends out there. Personally that's not my style
If you want to take medication with intolerable side effects that's your business. It's no wonder you're miserable. I guess misery loves company. If you want to give all your personal power away to some doctor and feel like a guinea pig for the rest of your life that's also your business. It's all a crap shoot anyway. An educated guess at best. One thing I know for sure is that you are never gonna find the answers to ALL your problems in a little pill. It takes a number of different things, and a concerted effort on your part to change and NO it's not gonna be easy. Nothing ever worthwhile in life is. That much is true.
And since YOU brought it up... Why do you think you lose friends, alienate people you work with and sometimes even family, hmmm? And don't tell me it's because you have an illness. That's a load of crap. Give your head a shake.
Do you truly want to get well or do you like the way you are living right now? If you simply keep doing the same thing over and over again, you are gonna get the same results...
Of course you can always marinate in negativity (a hallmark of depression) and sink deeper and deep into it like quicksand. That is your choice, but it's certainly not mine. I'm more pragmatic than that

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Tough Love
August, 1 2017 at 10:09 pm

Addicted to pain much... self harm, nasty medication side effects, etc. Why anyone would allow a doctor to take them off a medication that was preventing them from wanting to kill themselves is beyond my comprehension, that is if your goal is to truly feel better. Or even allow a doctor to dictate how much medication you are gonna take, especially when taking more of the same makes you feel worse, not better. That truly is the definition of crazy. Ever wonder if maybe you are just addicted to feeling shitty? Or perhaps you are intimidated by authority figures.
You are the author of you life. You are the consumer. You have free will (unless you are involuntarily committed) so why not use it more wisely.
All those medications are designed to change you brain chemistry. The more you and your doctor keep experimenting with the different types the more messed up your brain is gonna be and the longer you keep it up the greater the potential for brain damage. But hey, it's your life

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Tough Love
August, 3 2017 at 4:36 am

Seems to me Edel you're the type of person who tells people where to go when they say or do something you don't like, whatever happened to sugar and spice, sugar and spice, my dear. Isn't that what your grandma says little girls are made of?
Reality bites, doesn't it?
If I tell you I have a brain tumour and you tell me you have a headache. (One is obviously sick enough to be in hospital, the other is not). Of course these 2 people are both suffering, I'm not saying that they aren't and yes their suffering is valid. But realistically who do you think is suffering more. That's a no brainer to most people in the world, including doctors. How tolerant or compassionate do you think the one with the brain tumour is going to be of the one with the headache. Not very! Do they both understand what it feels like for their head to hurt, of course they do is all I'm saying
Do yourself a favour while you're sitting in the crowded emergency room of life waiting for someone to help you, try to be pro active. Pick up a good book to read, if it's too difficult to read then try listening to a recorded version of it, listen to uplifting music or even a meditation tape. Do something, anything that keeps you less focused on the pain.
Sure complaining about whatever is bothering you can be cathartic. I'm not saying that it's not. But a steady stream of that is not going to help you in the long run

July, 19 2017 at 8:32 am

My boyfriend has been taking Haldol, Depakote and another med to help with side effects, Cogentin for about 2 months and is suffering side effects badly. He is depressed and not interested in anything but sleeping and eating. He also will not talk to a doctor no matter how often I tell him that might be the answer...different meds, etc. So I often wonder what is worse: "Crazy hyper and explosive, or zombified. Don't know what to do...

Charlotte Howard
July, 18 2017 at 12:51 pm

Thank you for sharing! Not everyone truly understands the side effects these medications can pose and it was so helpful to read about them and apply them to some individuals I know and their reactions to the medicine.

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