new to lithium

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hi ive been a depressive for as long as i can rememberim on 45mg of mirtazapine diazepam and now starting lithium i should mention that sometimes i can be a binge drinker too about3 or 4 times a week which im getting help with , cuz the amount i drink is vast , although my aim is to get better number 1 and then maybe go out just once a week at the weekend and drink sociably rather than stay in and get bladdered im wondering when i start the lithium next week will it be dangerous to drink cuz ive read that you can get dehydrated very quickly on lithium im quite scared cuz ive not conquered my bad drinking habits , so im just wondering if any who takes lithium drinks too or if you have any ideas for me , ofcourse it would just be easy to say well dont drink , but the depression has lead to me drinking vast amounts so its catch 22 at the moment , ive read that you tend to feel dehydrated a lot more so do any of you suggest when i do binge that i drink a lot of water with the alcohol ? so any ideas and info would be great thanks.

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  • Posted

    You must tell your doctor about the drink problem otherwise when you take the lithium everything will go haywire. I have been on it along with Diazepam and was told in no uncertain words that I WAS not allowed to drink any alcohol at all as it would kill me. You really do need help with your drink problem, you may even find you dont need the tablets after all. Does your GP know how bad your drinking is?. Good for thinking about the first step and I really hope you get the help you need plus the support. Please do it. Good luck.
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  • Posted

    Hi Carter - I'm bipolar and just started on lithium just over a month ago. It has been absolutely fabulous for my mania, but also depression. Yes, there is a big concern about dehydration on lithium as it increases the lithium levels in your blood making it toxic. This is very serious and could be deadly if you pass out by yourself after a night of drinking. Glad to hear you're getting help, I spent by years between 18 - 32 drinking far too much, far too regularly. Now I'm able to drink on occasion without needing to get drunk (alhtough there is an internal battle sometimes). The biggest thing I discovered was the self-medication was actually my enemy. I learned how a night of drinking impacts the serotonin levels and how I was just contributing to my own unhappiness - round and round it went since I just wanted to get drunk again since I felt so depressed.

    Good luck to you, and give lithium a chance. Do yourself a favour and just set a goal for one month of not drinking and taking lithium. If it doesn't work, you haven't lost anything.


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  • Posted

    I've been taking lithium for 32 years. I've never gone out of my way to avoid alcohol and for most of those years I've consumed 4 -5 units every day. Often it is double that. I was told by a psychiatrist that lithium tolerates alcohol quite well and that the concern about drinking should not necessarily that be that it's while taking lithium but the effect it has with everyone - on the liver. I was told this when I was complaining about a lack of drive. He said to go back to him if i still felt this way after 6 months with no alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant.

    Given that my alcohol is mainly taken in the evening, I always drink about a litre of water/soda water/dilute squash before going to bed to avoid dehydration. If I didn't I'd expect hangover symptoms, perhaps a bit more severe than a normal one, but I've never experienced increased lithium side effects as a result of drinking. And never, ever, toxicity symptoms.

    To tell your doctor about your drinking is wise. I'm sure you'd love to be able to do without it, I certainly do but one step at a time. Get used to feeling well on lithium and with a bit of stability, address your alcohol intake. I can tell you, I'd rather be able to boast how lithium has given me a steady and pretty good life than be teetotal and miserable. If I die at 70 instead of 85 I'll be happy.

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  • Posted

    I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder for past six years and have just had another episode. Nightmare for family and friends but who all coped with me admirably. I had a minimum stay in hospital and am treated by some fantastic nurses in the community which is where i want to be.

    Lithium taking has always been an issue with me. I want to have children and my biological clock is going into overdrive. Also I hate the weight gain associated with lithium.

    I now also take aripiprazole to combat my symptoms and this appears to be effective.

    I just wanted to post my story to see if anyone has any similar feelings about the subject.

    ps. I still like the occasional drink and only really really binge drink when manic.

    However I do smoke like a chimney when ill.

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