How do I deal with bipolar disorder medication side effects?

Ms. Julie A. Fast
Mental Health

Here are three tips to manage milder, but very common bipolar disorder medications side effects.

1. Dry Mouth:  BreathRx Fresh Breath System provides a mint, gum and mouth wash that increases saliva. There are so many drugs that cause a dry mouth, so this is a life saver! Anti-depressants such as Prozac, Zoloft, Welbutrin and Celexa are known to cause dry mouth.

2. Dosage: Split up your meds throughout the day. I used to take my meds at night and in the morning. This lead to a lot of side effects. I decided to break my meds into pieces and take them every few hours. This worked so well, I now take a piece at night when I wake up to go to the bathroom. I take a super high dose of Lamictal, so this dosing helps.

Caveat: It’s essential that you talk to your prescriber about this first as some medications are time released and can’t be broken into pieces.  

3. Stomach grumbles: Eat less gas causing or bloating foods. If you have stomach problems, stomach pressure or bloating already, the medications can just make it worse. Watching what you eat can even help with irritable bowel syndrome. Oh yes, I have had some pretty bad stomach side effects! These side effects are common with the SSRI drugs as we have serotonin in our stomachs.

Just say no to beans and broccoli until things calm down. And I guess my favorite Korean kimchee and tofu soup is out as well.

If you're having weight gain from your medications, it's a separate issue. Feel free to post questions on the topic of medications and weight gain and I will give more tips.

There are many creative ways you can reduce milder medication side effects. I’ve been off and on meds for over 15 years and I’m still learning new tools.

Some medications for bipolar disorder have side effects for some people, like sedation. In this video, psychiatrist Amanda Itzkoff, MD, discusses why its so important to communicate with your doctor about the side effects you are experiencing. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.