Can You Die From Bipolar Disorder?

In short: yes, you can die from bipolar disorder.

Now, I know, many people would disagree with me on this, after all, bipolar disorder doesn’t produce a tumour in your body that will eventually kill you, it doesn’t create plaque in your arteries to eventually kill you and it doesn’t spread a virus through your cells to eventually kill you. I know, bipolar is not like that.

But, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), suicide takes over 35,000 lives a year in the United States and many of these are our brothers and sisters with bipolar disorder. You think that suicide isn’t the same thing as death by bipolar disorder? Think again.

Bipolar and Suicide

Suicide and suicide attempts are seriously bipolar things. It used to be estimated that 1-in-5 people with bipolar disorder would commit suicide but that number has now been updated to a little more than 1-in-10. Doing pretty well, right?

Well, not exactly. I mean if your doctor told you that you just contracted a disease with a 10% chance of death you’d be pretty freaked out, but people don’t talk in those terms about bipolar disorder.

Really though, they should. Doctors should talk in terms of percent risk of death because people need to take that risk seriously. Just like if you had a cancer with a 10% risk of death, you would do things to manage that risk as best you could, people with bipolar disorder need to manage the overwhelming risk of suicide as best they can as well.

Bipolar and Suicide Attempts

And while a suicide attempt isn’t the same thing as a death by bipolar disorder, let’s not forget that more than half of people with bipolar disorder do attempt suicide and that suicide attempt can be pretty devastating.

Bipolar Causes Death

Suicide ideation and suicidal behaviors are actual symptoms of bipolar disorder noted in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). So if suicide is a symptom of bipolar disorder then it seems to me that bipolar, then, is the cause of death as it is the cause of the symptom. Without the bipolar disorder, the person would have no symptom and without the symptom the person would not have died.

I’m not saying that there’s no personal responsibility when it comes to suicidal behaviors – of course there is – but there’s personal responsibility in cancer patients who continue to smoke too. It is the cancer that kills them but they are responsible for increasing the risk.

Decreasing the Risk of Suicide

Bipolar Disorder and Death

Mixed moods are known to increase the risk of suicide so I think the first way to manage the risk of suicide is to get those under control. This should be a high priority for any patient and any doctor. If you find yourself in a mixed mood unexpectedly, then getting help for it should be an immediate priority and not just something you wait until your next appointment to deal with. Manage that risk.

Of course, depressions also put people at risk of suicide. Naturally, this means that depressions should aggressively be treated as well. One serious option to consider is lithium as lithium is one of the few drugs we know that has been scientifically shown to have anti-suicidal properties (it’s been shown to reduce the risk of suicide and suicide attempts by 80%). (Of course lithium isn’t for everyone.) If you find yourself in a depression unexpectedly, get it treated as soon as possible for the best chance of recovery. If you find yourself in a treatment-resistant depressive episode, learn about other coping techniques (like through dialectical behavior therapy) and know when to call in help. Manage that risk.

Another factor known to increase the risk of suicide dramatically is anxiety. In a study out of Florida, 92% of people who attempted suicide suffered from severe anxiety right before the attempt and 80% suffered from panic attacks. If you’re a person who suffers from anxiety (especially panic attacks) you are at an increased risk of suicide. Don’t skip over that important symptom when you talk to your doctor. Make sure you get it treated. If you need to, get a medication you can take as needed so that you have a backup if the anxiety gets out of control. Manage that risk.

(Oh, most of the suicides in the Unites States are firearm suicides. If you really want to decrease your risk of suicide, get rid of your guns.)

Can You Die from Bipolar Disorder?

So yes, I think you can die from bipolar disorder and it’s absolutely essential that we recognize that fact but it’s also important to realize that we don’t have to. We can decrease the risk of a suicide attempt by getting proper treatment and by knowing when to call for additional help. Because bipolar disorder may cause death in some cases, but it doesn’t have to in your case. (And yes, ideally, it would be in no one’s case.)

If you need help right now with suicidal feelings or concerns, please visit my help page.

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  1. I have had bi polar all my life and later developed post traumatic syndrome due to father [step] abuse. i didn’t have medication when i was young so my bipolar festered like a huge wound that wouldn’t heal it would make me do a lot of dangerous things. Drugs increased sex drive alcoholic many suicide attempts I lived the life of 10 cats i used to be a top model which only fed my highs and lows easily mostly my highs traveling all over the world only made me high each magazine cover only made me higher it along with the drugs it wasn’t until my agency stole all my money and left me homeless in New happened so fast i moved to south beach and started doing heroin I used drugs to numb the pain of all the work i did was gone all the money all the fame everything i had worked my ass off had just disappeared i knew i needed medication so i started to see doctors and started to abuse the medicine the doctor was giving me a different kind week got up to taking 20 pills all at once they were making me crazy too high couldn’t even take one anymore i quit taking all my medicine for 7 days i started convulsing crawling vomiting hallucinating suicidal homicidal thought I was going to die my neighbors were calling my boyfriend saying Laurie is going to die any minute now he finally talked me into going to the hospital the first hospital i went had know psychiatrists I sat there for 12 hours totally out of my mind drooling in a cup shaking so violently then finally they transferred me to another hospital total peace a room by my self and Librium now i take a mixture of medication Thorazine Librium topomax ,my meds. have me pretty stable now thank the Lord Jesus i would have been dead at a very very very young age i am 46 now thanks to my boyfriend of 28 years also my guardian angel keeps me out of trouble so yes there is hope out there for all you rapid cycle-rs and bi polar s stay on your medication please its life and death for us we are just like war veterans survivors prayer also helps.

  2. Ruth, reading your response brought me to tears. Your trip to Siberia sounds wonderful, and I hope you will enjoy every minute of your time there. Being amongst nature and the beautiful things surrounding us is what brings me peace. When I was young and married, my family took ski vacations to the Rocky Mountains. Standing atop a mountaintop, overlooking other snow covered mountains and people skiing down these mountains caused feelings within me that I could never describe. I have always felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole, but at these times I felt a connectedness to the universe in a way I have only felt when being in nature. I have these feelings when in a forest listening to the wind blowing through the trees (as if speaking to me), looking up at the stars and moon, watching a sunrise or sunset, walking along a shoreline, being with my beloved animals. I feel things very deeply, whether it be the things I have just described, or whether it be the pain I see in those suffering from depression, poverty, loneliness, homelessness. I believe that because of my life experiences, I am able to empathize with people on a level that perhaps others cannot. “Feeling things so very deeply is both a blessing and a curse”. I have been through so many things in my lifetime. (Since I was a very young child until the present…I am now 62.)

    Ruth, unlike you, when I am in the throes of deep, suicidal depression, NOTHING makes me laugh. People would say to me, “Just get out of bed”, “Hey, lets go to lunch”, “Go buy yourself a new outfit”, “Here are some flowers to cheer you up”…. whatever they might say. For me, there is no “snapping out” of these depressions. No amount of someone trying to cheer me up can stop the pain. In fact, during these times, I isolate myself even more than usual. I do not want to see anyone, or talk to anyone.

    I live in what is called “The Bible Belt”. I have been told by very well-meaning people that I should fall down on my knees and thank God for all the trials and tribulations he has put me through, because my rewards in Heaven will be great. These remarks have only caused me more confusion, and I hate to admit it, anger, and have caused me to question things even more than ever. I am, at this late stage in my life, pretty much at peace with where I am. It is a place many do not agree with, or understand, but that is okay. We all have our own belief system, our own opinions, and have dealt with life in the best way we can with the cards we have been dealt. What works for one may not work for another. For myself, I do not find “religion” in a church. I respect those who DO find peace there. My peace is found surrounded my nature. It is here that feelings of awe, feelings of a connectedness are found.

    Thank you Ruth, for your message. And please, please enjoy your trip to Siberia. I hope you find there the peace I found many years ago in the Rocky Mountains, and the peace I continue to find in the surroundings of nature.

    Michael, I so understand your feelings of loneliness. I have lived alone since my divorce in 1990. It is not living alone that I struggle with because I actually prefer to be alone. It is those times that I feel lonely that are painful. Being alone and being lonely are two very different things. Sometimes I crave human companionship. It would be so nice to share watching a sunrise or sunset with someone. But, most of the time my pets provide all of the companionship I need.

  3. What great posts. I too am Bipolar, and have BPD as well. My last suicide attempt was in July, 2013. Was in ICU for 5 days, kept alive on a ventilator. Went into cardiac arrest. Suicidal ideations put me back in the hospital for a week, less than three months ago. The roller coaster ride of Bipolar is absolutely draining. I experience extremely high highs and extremely low lows. I am 62 years old, and all of my life I thought once I was elderly I would no longer suffer from these terrible illnesses. My marriage ended in 1990, after 18 years. I am estranged from my 3 children and have lost all family and friends. I most definitely have not gotten better with age. Because of going into cardiac arrest I now suffer from 4 rare neurological diseases. No cure and progressive. I so wish I could be “upbeat” and give hope to those who read this. I was put on Lamictal three months ago and pray it will help. As far as meds go I have felt like a human guinea pig. Nothing has controlled my highs and lows. My dad was bipolar, my daughter is bipolar and other family members are as well. I had a cousin who was bipolar … a brilliant woman who had her PhD, and at one time was a professor at a university. She eventually lost her job due to her illness. She stepped in front of an oncoming freight train when in her 60’s. Her daddy was bipolar and committed suicide when my cousin was young. So yes, suicide is very real. It is not a way to “get attention”, it is not the “cowards’ way out”, bipolar is not because you are “not right with God”. I have been told all of these things and more in my life. Suicide happens when the pain is so bad that you just can’t take it anymore. You want the pain to stop. You have lost hope. There is no longer even a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. You feel all alone, rejected, abandoned. You feel that no one understands, and feel that no one will ever understand. I know because I have been there too many times to count. I feel like I am being sucked into a deep, dark abyss and there is no way to claw my way out. I truly believe that only those of us with these mental illnesses can relate. And the highs?? I go for days and nights on end with NO SLEEP. I cannot even sit still for a few moments. I clean the house, drag clean clothes out of the closets and dressers and wash them, pull things out of the closets and rearrange everything over and over and over. The energy is endless and I feel there is nothing I cannot do. All the while I know the awful low will inevitably take over. I hope each of your lives will improve as newer meds are available. When I was young mental illness issues were swept under the carpet. You didn’t dare talk about them. I hid and suffered silently. At least now the public is being made more aware of these illnesses and there are many support groups. We still have a long way to go. Reading your posts has helped me to not feel so alone. Please, those of you who contemplate suicide…. hang on. You WILL come out of that dark place. When you do, you will be at a higher plateau than you were prior to going there. Just try to say to yourself, “I have to hang on, I WILL come out of this and be okay.” May God bless you all.

    • Dear Jan, your blog (?) email was very moving. I can relate to it because I go through those highs and lows aswell. Mine are rather mixed because I can get raging insomnia in a low or high state. I find I can struggle with the low state, then something cheers me up, or I can find something to laugh about, or watch my favourite sitcoms and laugh about them, but the insomnia persists. I get that a lot. I hardly ever get a proper night’s sleep. I am utterly exhausted but I have to carry on, but I get days I get so exhausted I can’t do anything. Even making a cuppa is like climbing Mt Everest. I’m sure you have been there! I get a lot of suicidal ideation. Sometimes I struggle with those all day long, I lie on my bed wishing I won’t wake up in the morning. Even though I am going on a fantastic holiday to the volcanoes in Siberia, I can get so low I think I want to see the volcanoes, and die, thinking I don’t want to go back home and if it wasn’t for my cat, I would not come back. I would like to look up at their majestic snowcapped peaks, lie down at their feet, go to sleep and not wake up. Romantic suicidal ideation – oh boy! but you are right. Hang on, the lows pass – but they keep coming back. I am a Christian and I can imagine you get really ticked off when ignorant people tell you that you’re not right with God! Stupid judgmental idiots! Don’t they realise that that is what Job’s so-called friends said to him? These people who sleep like logs and just moan about being knackered and carry on prattling don’t know they’re born! Some people (but not all) who are like that give me the impression that they are shallow and ignorant. Although it’s agony, bipolar lows and highs give one a deeper insight into the human condition, and I believe I can appreciate things like these mighty volcanoes and God’s wonderful creation better than these people who are on an even keel, (or so they tell themselves!) because they miss out on intense emotional peak experiences, for example when a piece of music or a vision in my head moves me to tears. They seem to breeze through life compared to me but they never experience the emotions and visions that I do, but I pay a high price for them. I think I would rather be like me, in spite of all my difficulties and agony, than be “normal”. As my travel specialist who has organised this holiday for me, “normal” is VERY overrated! Some of the greatest scientific and creative people have been bipolar or schizophrenic – what about the genius code cracker – John Nash (“Beautiful mind”), and Winston Churchill, who suffered a lot from depression – and poor Robin Williams. A lot of artists and scientists throughout history have been bipolar, I am sure. It comes with the territory. Intense passion and appreciation of art carries a high price tag. You cannot experience such passionate intensity without paying for it, so we are very special and the “others” are dullards! Maybe, in a way, they are like the “muggles” in Harry Potter, who don’t have the gift of magic!

      • Ruth hardman

        I rapid cycle every day… I much rather be a dullard. I yearn to be a dullard. You may be going to the mountains but because of this brain disease I live in the mud.. I am a walking funeral. I am not being outrageous with my words. They call people like me ultradian cyclers and we go from highs to lows every day many times. A once in a blue goo day for me is scary becuase I know the next day ther will be hell to pay. There is no God.. I live in purgatory.

        • Invoking God should be outlawed. If there is such a thing, a squared one, a third rt. of one, 8.5 of one, etc., etc., and so on and so forth no one knows and anyone who claims such is full of s___. Assigning actual motivation for such, whether evil or good, constructive or destructive, all knowing or an idiot is what really pisses me off. Lets not take something we know nothing about then assign properties then if others don’t agree label then at the very least as uncaring, unloving, bad people.
          I love, care and have as much concern for others as much as anyone who believes in a god and assigns properties and motivations to it. I think far more then those who use it as an explaination for everything and as an empty (very empty way to help and comfort others). It’s a cheap way out. I talk to something alone every night (I have no woman to talk to) whether it exists or not is any ones quess. My guess is it doesn’t. Wishing for something doesn’t make it exist. Wishing for the sadness doesn’t make it go away. Wishing for a good and honest woman to talk to at night when alone doesn’t make it happen. And asking God or whatever doesn’t make it exist and claiming it so and giving empty promises that it does and that things will change is dishones’t and only helpful to a fool or a child. When one grows up or becomes wiser it becomes an insult to ones intelligence and reminds one of all the empty pandering liars or fools from your past who told you things would change and they never have and it’s getting to the pt. where you realize they never will. Glad to hear from you Michael. I do wish you were feeling better but I to must live in the real world and give you false promises. Still I do hope you will feel better always. From me not something I can’t speak for. WN

          • Will Nist
            Good to hear from you. How does someone over the internet pray for me when they don’t even know who, I am, or is my name real, etc. It ls like me telling you, I will pray for your house. But , we are going through all this torture for a higher calling. Really? When is this calling happening? We were all born innocent with this beast on our backs but he has special plans for us but the last time I went to church I was asked for money becuase the dude cant balance his checkbook. My first laugh of the week. :) I no.. I used to be disgusted when people would say they will pray for me, Now I am just amused. Meanwhile i am becoming drug tolerant and I wont take any more of that toxic crap becuase I now have serious , liver , kidney and heart issues, my hair is falling out and one of the drugs which the doctor said only happens in very few people has given me diabetes. But I will not any more of that toxic crap. am slowly getting out of the mental hell industry and trying so hard to make it in purgatory.. I have the double whammy… Hey GOD.. Enough of this buullshit. Make me better. I dont want to be a great creative person. I want to be a healthy dullard that can actually smile for the first time in years.
            Will, You ar a good man. I wish you peace and I will pray for you !!!

            • I must be honest Michael. I’ve been taking Lamictal 100 mg. daily for going on a year now and it has helped me drastically. I’ve had only three long lasting (in the weeks range) episodes of severe suicidal ideation in that time. It is the only drug that has ever helped me. I take 150 mg. Effexor XR with it. The Effexor used to just put everything out of control but mixed with the Lamictal they together have greatly helped me. I never thought I would be able to say that about any of these drugs before. But I am a man who must speak the truth. My health (especially internal organs) are at least for now in very good shape. Other then a slightly fatty liver due to being overweight. I’m 6’4″ and aroung 300 ils. Muscular but still 50 ils. or so of fat. I have a very bad back due to a disease I was born with and need a new knee I am lobbying for. Suspect being lied to and it is really due to the cost. On top of that I’m board of my mind due to the povery and nothing productive to do with my time. If had money fro graduate school would be doing that, but I think we both know the fantasy of govt. and other help in that area. Doing better but nothing to do but stairing at the walls. I love to read but have no money to take a woman out or even look halfway respectable. Lets face it without money. No woman. Well that’s the game I must play in. Not the shit hole you are still living in. I just hope the drugs hold out as I wont hang around to long if they don’t, but you never know. Had this since about 13 and am 49 now and I’m still here. Never would have believed it. Never. So many dead friends. Five from suicide. Including one physician good friend who also suffered from BP and ended it at 41 with an Rx of something he wrote for me. His familys shame was so much a funeral was never even held. Of couse paper said nothing.
              I to really don’t get mad anymore usually about those who pray for me. Unless it is said in a shitty looking down on you way like you are moron who doesn’t see their fantasy God. My Catholic miliionare aunt prays for me all the time, as well as puts me down for being an atheist and being unemployed. Not once has she ever offered any real help. Not that I would take it anyway. She sees me not as ill of course but as immoral and bad. Any real help would actually cost her. A small amount that would mean virtually nothing to her. She even refuses to say how much she hates the current Pope because of his compassion. She has no compassion, just judgement from upon high. A place she doesn’t know how easy it is to fall from. My cousin, her son visited Russia as a missionary. He now works as an engineer on guidance systems for missles in Alabama. That doesn’t bother her though. I bother her.
              I’ve already become dull. Whenever I speak my mind I get in trouble and don’t have the energy after the fact to sustain staying out of it. I live financially totally on the edge. I say one ting wrong and I must give oral sex to crackheads for saltines to eat.
              Still, I’ll try to stay in the game for now and hope you do also Michael and really do hope to meet you some time. You seem like my kind of guy. Intelligent and not taking any bs and standing your ground.
              You have no idea how hard it is for me to say I speak to something every night that I don’t know and think doesn’t exist but I must always speek the truth. It’s my code. When under duress I lie to any fool. If I lie just to not look like a fool then to myself I look like a fool. Value your wife and children. You are lucky there. Be well. WN

            • I am on 300mg of Lamictal… wood dee doo. lost all my hair on my body and my head isn’t doing that well either. I dont any antipsychotics. No freaking way. I am on a benzo which is killing me. I know it. If I knew back then what I know now I would have shoved that benzo up the doctors patoot.

            • Me to with the benzodiazepines. Especially Ativan. Others not so much. Was put on 2 mg. Ativan 4 times per day back in 1993. Was on them for 9.5 years. Hadn’t a clue they were addictive when put on them, maybe mildly. Had to get off them with new Dr, as the other one left town. I was so addicted to them I coudn’t leave the house in the day time for six mos. I’m normally a night person but shit, would get a hundred feet out the door and have to run back in. I cut back one mg at a time for six mos. and needed booze after that for months to funtion just a little. I thing my brain stopped producing GABA or something else almost completely. Those fuckers are bad. Short term only and probably even then better to just knock yourself out with a gram of Thorazine if it gets that bad. CANT SAY IT ENOUGH, ESPECIALLY FOR ME. THOSE THING ARE EXTREMELY ADDICTIVE. In a totally different leage then opiates. I’ve seen people get off Heroin in about a week. Not so with those things. They work like a miracle at first but holy shit. Horror show. You got that right. The news plays up opiates, but those benzo’s are so much worse it hard to explain. At least in my experience. That’s a game I NEVER want to play again. NEVER. WN

  4. I don’t have the luxury of being able to put myself out of my miserable existence because I have 2 teenagers and no one would take them. My husband died and my family wrote me off long ago, they consider me an embarrassment. What pulls me through is my belief in reincarnation. I believe we choose our lives before we are born and I chose a lifetime of misery to clear all my karmic debt and I’ll be greatly rewarded when I die. But if I punk out and kill myself that I’ll be immediately reincarnated and have to suffer all over again maybe even worse. But lately I’m at peace because I’ve been diagnosed with mid stage pulmonary hypertension so I don’t have to suffer through life for to many more years. I’m almost done I got a reprieve. Then my luck just got better my new psychiatrist gave me the go ahead to get a medical marijuana card. It just doesn’t get any better then that. High grade weed that I can legally have. No longer do I have to put up with any dealers dangling Shit over my head making jump and subjecting me to their bullshit. Yup I no longer have to be a lapdog. It just doesn’t get any better

  5. I couldn’t finish what I was saying in my last reply because I accidentally hit “bookmark” and couldn’t do any more but I’M NOT FINISHED!!!! Yeah!!! Feeling better now because I’ve been talking to my sister and that helped. Will Nist sounds very suicidal and I hope he hasn’t done away with himself. I know how hard it is when you’re in the black hole and you can’t find a way out. I started to feel like that tonight. I rang my sister and she said she would ring me back when she had done some packing. It was late but she still rang me back even though she’d been working hard all day packing up stuff to move house, bless her – she could tell I sounded down. We’re both born again Christians but because of my depression, when I start to get sucked down over the event horizon of the black hole, I start to think I’m losing faith and that God doesn’t love me, yadayadayada, and all sorts of stuff like that. She reminded me that it was enemy attack – Satan. He’s very good at exploiting our weak spots, whatever those might be – in the case of bipolars like us – fear, rejection, guilt etc. Well, Will Nist, you may not believe in anything I am going to say, but I will pray for you tonight, because I know what you’re going through. I will pray that you will come to know the love of Jesus in your life, and that He will set you free. You may be thinking, “Yeah, I’ve heard all that crap before.” and I don’t blame you for thinking that, I’ve thought that myself sometimes, and I haven’t always been a Christian. No matter what you may think, Will, or anyone else that may read this, Jesus does love all of you. It’s true. In one of the Psalms the psalmist wrote “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and those who are crushed in spirit”. Who is more crushed in spirit than a bipolar, or a schizophrenic? I understand why you may find it impossible to believe, especially when you feel like death and feel suicidal, but Jesus wants you to live, and that’s forever, and He wants to heal you, so God bless everyone who reads this, especially you, Will. Let’s stay alive to annoy the devil! He hates that!!!

  6. I was diagnosed bipolar a few years ago. None of the drugs worked. Got so ill I lost my job. Eventually I decided I didn’t want medication any more and psychiatrist agreed that I could come off them. I have been drug-free for over 3 months and while I don’t feel wonderful and full of energy, I feel slightly better without them. I used to lie in bed all day when I WAS ON THE MEDS, but I still have a serious fatigue problem and it’s frustrating that I can’t do as much as I would like to do because I am too tired. In the evenings I feel wrecked even when I haven’t done very much. I feel isolated from people who don’t have mental illness. I even feel isolated from someone who also has a diagnosis of bipolar but functions well on her medication. I told her about my spending problem which I think is bipolar addiction but she doesn’t have that problem so I don’t think she understands. She didn’t say anything judgemental but I felt guilty when she suggested I do a budget for myself. Maybe it was my own guilty feelings speaking. I can feel guilty for just breathing in and out. Excessive guilt is a symptom of depression, isn’t it? This friend that I have just referred to has just phoned me. I told her that I still feel rubbish sometimes after giving up my meds but I don’t feel any worse than I used to but she doesn’t remember me telling her!!! I think she has memory loss problems because I told her in great detail that I have stopped. It’s no wonder I feel isolated. When I talk to a fellow bipolar sufferer she doesn’t remember what I told her. I told her I felt bad but saw no point in talking about it because it didn’t do any good. She said it was just a quick call before she had to do something so I can’t go into detail about anything, can I? It puts you off saying anything because they obviously haven’t got the time to talk about anything in depth. She phoned to see how I was. If I say “fine, thank you”, then that’s ok, but if I feel really bad she hasn’t got time to listen anyway, so what’s the point!

  7. I am Bipolar 1. Rapid cycling, all day long. I was prescribed Depakote and already have extensive liver damage. I fear it will kill me. I have Lithium, and it hurts my kidneys. The mania is absolutely debilitating, as well as the depression that accompanies it concurrently. I’ve never had a problem attaining a job. My energy and positive energy when going for a goal is legit, but interacting with people on a daily basis is incredibly difficult for me to handle, because I have to relate to others. Well, relating to others is hard when you have rapid cycling bipolar disorder to deal with on a daily basis. What medications can I jump onto next?

    • Try Lamictal. It took months and nothing else ever did anything. It actually has improved my life on days to normal. I would have never guessed any drug would have done anything and I’ve tried almost all. I’m 48 and been on merry-go-round many years. Please try and tell me how you feel in six months. I may for first time in years look into going back to school or part time work. Hope it continues to give me some good days when I don’t feel like killing myself. Even beginning to think I may find another girlfriend soon. Maybe too early , but I have learned to be cautious. WN

  8. With the illness we all share, -you’re damn right some, or ”the” meds we take will wreck our bodies. OUR Kidneys are NOT meant to be fed Depakote, Lithium, Abiilify, Seroquel, or what ever–its’ Poison. But it’s necessary poison- we either take it and have a somewhat stable mind, or suffer staying up all night, sleeping all day, or reserving a room at the Bates Motel for a lifetime of delusional memories.
    We have no real choice, do we?
    NO ONE want to feel the CRAZYNESS OF BEING W/O THEIR MEDS. So, let’s see, we either take the meds and let our kidney’s, hearts, gray matter suffer & rot for it–or skip them and wear our soiled undies on our heads as we talk to our sofas. .
    As I type, my brain is shrinking according to specialists.
    Yes, b/c I have bipolar, or you have schizophrenia, old age, Altzheimers– any MI -your brain is shrinking in places you know nothing about. But don’t worry, your hat will still fit . The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
    You’re effing right it is. We’re not the only ones who are being prescribed and consuming this swill.
    Big Pharma is lounging at some beach in the Carribean, and he and his family will have to take some poison too.
    Sooner or later.
    No one’s making it out of here alive. Enjoy every single lucid moment God or life gives you.
    Oh, and don’t forget to wear the ”good” undies, and vacuum under the bed. xxxoxxoxoxoxoox

  9. In manic state, can one die of sleep deprivation or just exhaustion if it is long enough? In a severe depressed state, one can die of other things beside suicide, like severe skin ulcers (lying in bed in one position for a long time, elderly, nutrition is extremely poor due to depression… etc) which gets infected big time.

  10. I am on Sodium Valporate unfortunately since a couple of years as i am aging and reading more and more about it i am complately lost at what to do espcially since i am also a post operative epiliptic and based in pakistan and my surgeon dr ifftikhar raja died couple of years ago in tragic air crash and since then ii have not been under check up on regular base but i use epival 500 mg once a daily since 1989

    plls refer some Physcian here

  11. Once again another great post. I see you have mentioned Lithium to help in mood swings. I have always been treated with Depakote and was just wanting to know your take on that. I am not looking to change, I am stable with the meds I am on. Just wanted to know if you have any pros and cons between the two.

    • Natasha will no doubt have her own response to your question, but I’ll give you my opinion.

      When I was first diagnosed, I read all about lithium, and learned that its therapeutic levels were very close to levels that were toxic, and that long-term users could risk kidney damage. Sodium valproate, valproic acid, and sodium divalproex. on the other hand, were less liable to cause damage at therapeutic levels (although the risk there is to the liver rather than kidneys.)

      So I assertively picked the Divalrpoex sodium. The result was that I gained a significant amount of body weight over a short period. The only med that has had a more extreme effect on my weight is olanzapine.

      A few years later, I switched to lithium. I found it slightly more effective at stabilising my moods, but it did make me rather stupid for a few years. Overall, I’d call them even.

  12. I’ve felt, had, or tip toed by some of these godless symptoms at one time or another. I haven’t had them all- and you’d think I be grateful. I am. I really am. If it got any worse -at it’s worse, I’d run in front of a fast moving Winnebago.
    But so far, something stops me. Maybe b/c I remember when I was ok. Sane. High functioning. I could work, muli-task, run w/ the girls to lunch or shop, feel fearless on a daily basis, plan parties, enjoy making dinner- simple things that today, I’m so detached from. I feel I literally have no purpose in my life, many times.
    Yes, It’s crossed my mind (ie: the Winnebago)–but there’s that small lump of hope way back in my ID–that things might change for me. I try very hard to remember, that when those dim and evil feelings come calling, I can take some sleeping pills and sail away for a while. I don’t have to sit there and let them choke me and rip the skin off my face.
    As far as what I die from- -I got nothing. Maybe this will kill me. maybe. and maybe not.
    One of our best friends announced at dinner 3 weeks ago, that he just found out he has stage 4 Lymphoma.
    I sat there, in my secret bipolar world, and held my pill bottle to my wet cheek- and saw my own illness in a different light. It took me out of my own self pitying addiction, and litany of daily negative thought patterns– smack dab into his reality. I’m ok. I’m ok. I’m ok… How can I help him. What can I do for him.
    Live your lives people–as best you can. I wish you all that’s good- and pray that wishes matter.

  13. If you have seen the bottom of the hole you know these things. There is most certainly not any god doing any work in this world, love does not exist ( a woman I felt as much for as any human could for another ) left while I was actually at my monthly apt. with my psychiatrist, when you need too much help from family you will blamed and dropped at the same time as being lazy and crazy and summarily dispensed with. You will become more and more isolated from the “normal people” in short a stranger in your country and left to die and without money coming from somewhere you have a good chance of dying. I’ve tried all the meds. in all the combinations and they don’t work and the therapists for the most part just think your wining just like others do. I believe I will die from my own hand. Mostly the lonely and isolation now. Looking into prices of nitrogen as opposed to helium tanks that I can use in my car instead of with a mask. I want these ready when It get the horrific episode again. I don’t wish to be unprepared. Another 30 years or so of solitude without a woman is not something I can deal with. Yes, I believe with many of us it is a terminal disease. Life without a partner, family, children, money a safe place to live along with deteriorating physical health is no way to go through thirty of so years. So yes, unless my last commenter decides I’m inappropriate again. Control freak that’s my opinion. Some write and some get thick black markers and decide what others shouldn’t read. Sorry about spelling etc. I’m very tired and drained as usual. Thanks for listening.

    • Will NIst. I cannot say I know exactly how you feel. That would be an affront to you but I do understand the basis for your post. It resonates. I wish you some form of relief. I still have hope albeit very little that peace will come to all of us who suffer so terribly. I read the article and it made me scared for there it was, what I thought I knew something about and I hope Natasha is wrong for all our sakes. You talk of being dropped and turned on by family. I know that too well. Same with friends. I always thought family and friends were supposed to be there when you needed them the most. Never knew how inhumane people can be. I have a life with a caring wife and a son who is too far away from me and yet I am alone with this disease no matter how many hugs I get. I never knew I could cry so much. I re read your post many times. I really have nothing more to say except we were dealt a real bad hand, I suppose its all part of life’s imperfections.

          • I’m feeling a little better Michael. Will have my Jeep working well soon I hope. Maybe I could give you a visit in South PA. if you would like.
            The drugs may actually be helping me a bit which I never believed was possible. I am even able to talk to ex-gf without crying all the time. Even though I do miss her and know I must move on. Just respond and maybe we could have a few beers and talk a little. Think we could both use it. We must stick together in this world and forget the greed, selfishness and all the other crap. WN in Scranton
            As you have said to me, I also don’t know what is going on with you but think it may be similar to me.
            Just ask and I’ll leave my personal e-mail. Try to hang in Michael and I will too.

            • Will Nist
              good to hear from you.. right now I am in terrible straits. Far too many triggers and stress is off the wall. Anxiety so bad. Too many obligations that I cannot handle well. Scared of even little things like a service man coming to the house.. Always seem to feel that i am on panic attack mode and that is my life. Negative ruminations have taken over y brain. Just one . Cycling every day.. A restful day. Thats all I want. A day of peace . Maybe we can talk by email if you care to.

            • Will you have given me hope sir. I feel like death is knocking at my door I am bi-polar manic depressive. It’s amazing to me that I found this thread today 5/11/15? You went from having a plan to feeling better? I am glad to hear you are doing better.

            • To: Michael. Feel the felling. Been their and will be again. Best thing about not having a wife and kids is my obligations are at a minimum. I keep my oblogations so I don’t get involved in many of them. I keep my word always so I don’t make many committments. WN
              Plase mention a couple previous conversations to keep the true death etc. people at bay a little. If not possible just e-mail me anyway. Let the bastards come. Encryption always a good idea though don’t really trust keying. Not an expert though.

  14. Sure, meds have their downsides. But bipolar disorder, and, in particular, untreated bipolar disorder, certainly poses more of a risk. Meds can cause weight gain? Yes, but untreated depression is heavily linked to both overeating and undereating. In addition, depression can cause shortening of telomeres and thus a shorter life. Anxiety and the inability to manage stress in an appropriate manner (a common problem among people with bipolar disorder) also decreases ones life span, not to mention a persons quality of life. It makes one more susceptible to illness, hardened arteries, increased cortisol production, and a slew of nasty problems. And so I’ll take the meds, the extra ten pounds, the fatigue, and blunted affect, over a life not worth living any day (even if I wouldn’t have to live it long).

    • ..It makes one more susceptible to illness, hardened arteries, increased cortisol production, and a slew of nasty problems. And so I’ll take the meds, the extra ten pounds, the fatigue, and blunted affect, over a life not worth living …

      meds harden arteries, increase cortisol production, often many have psychiatric side effects of mood disorder – suicidal ideation/impulse – anxiety, agitation, etc… injury and/or destroy kidney function, mess up thyroid, affect eyes, cause blood pressure issues, blood sugar regulation, worsen or initiate migraine, seizure initiation and creation, heart rhythm issues, etc…

      it’s not just fatigue, blunt affect, and a few extra pounds

      meds do not cure, they do not completely eradicate… they only alleviate and relieve and while that is awesome enough… over time, they lose their “effectiveness” and more and more drugs are prescribed to replace the ones that do not work…

      and still, you have depression, anxiety, agitation, mood swings, lethargy, inability to work, inability to function in many basic daily living skills, relationship issues, prone to suicidal ideation (yes, even those on meds religiously and swear by them, kill themselves) etc…

      so, yes…. relief of symptom intensity is better than living in mental illness hell…. even if the alleviation and relief of the intensity is short-lived

      Bipolar is life long and we are all set to die… it’s a given… we will die
      how we die is, in most respects, not up to us neither… less we choose to make it so

      it’s how we live and relate… that truly matters

      there are those with Bipolar who live right into their 80s and 90s… it’s not a given
      it’s never “a given”

      • Tabby…. living into my eighties or nineties with this disease is what I fear most . I am in my late fifties. I am losing a sense of who I am. My wife and son have gone through too much already. They need relief from me. I now have to search for another doctor . My last 2 dies on me. This is so draining. I am BP1 and I cycle form the lowest depression to a bit higher. The better part of the depression must be my mania. I didnt like reading this article and yes , everything you stated in my opinion is on the money. I wish you the best.

  15. well.. let’s see

    I have horrible prolonged depressive episodes. I have high mixed mania/depressive episodes. Lithium is MY lifesaver when life becomes a question as to whether to or whether to not… I’ve also made attempts and I have stages in episodes of continual hourly suicidal ideation to which life literally becomes “every 15 minutes”

    yep… Bipolar kills

    it kills physically, mentally and spiritually

    and then you add in the pharmaceuticals that while they do help most (not all and some like myself are medication sensitive) they also have effects and adverse reactions that pose life threatening issues and/or life threatening

    yep…. mental illness kills

    • Tabby , please monitor your kidneys if you have been on lithium for many years. I know of 2 people who had to have transplants and were lucky because family members were generous.

  16. I agree with you Natasha ….When my son, who suffered from Bipolar Disorder, took his life, his doctor said some very helpful words to me, words which helped me then and even help now……He said, ‘ maybe, one day, you will be able to understand, that he died from an incurable illness’.

  17. I think ,for myself the severity of this illness recently really hit me..
    In spite of too many attempts to remember,you reach a point..
    I say this is a life destroying illness with casualties from all over the world,not descriminating …male/ female..
    Teenager or middle aged sufferers.
    Upper class lower class…in all people shouldn’t have to die..but they do.
    Drs must listen more,talk less.
    Often,it’s severe depression,the frustration of being misunderstood,constantly fighting: the illness ,others trying to assert your rights …
    In a world where Drs simply don’t have the time,certainly,it’s unacceptable…
    I hope in time,mental health care will vastly improve..
    I guess,no one can watch you 24/7…
    You have to be there for yourself,too.
    Everyones triggers or experiences vastly differ,it’s hurtful knowing as I’m typing someone somewhere suffering from bipolar could be experiencing suicidal ideation…
    Please realize,suicide is The End,you’ll never see your family,pet,hear music,see the sunrise/ set,see the stars..
    Find out who you really are…
    Not just a a bipolar sufferer…
    I’ve been there,sometimes,it’s people that have walked in the dark that are the only ones that can help a fellow
    I just wanted the pressure. & pain to end…
    Not so certain my life anymore…but I’ve walked in those shoes…..
    Importantly,I recently am understanding,moods will fluctuate even w the best meds…
    Particularly during the high stress holiday season….
    I hope ONE person sees this post…& just STOP…..think more seriously about suicide…..
    There’s hope…
    Here,even,online I’ve found extra support / help.
    Plus,unlike Drs it’s always available…
    Get the feelings out…..however you choose to…
    But remember,this is your life…
    When you end that life,you can’t change your mind…..
    Please reach out…no one w this illness will judge you….
    They’ll be proud of you,it takes more strength to do so…
    But you’ll reap rewards….
    God bless those in that horrible state…..
    My heart goes to yours….

    • You state…. But remember,this is your life… This is not my life. This is my diseases life. My life has been destroyed over decades. I dont even know who I am anymore. I cant trust my thoughts. I cant trust myself. I fight and fight and then I let go and let it take over as if to say t o my disease do what you must now and then let me alone for a while.. Sleep was my friend. No longer. I am scared. I am petrified. The loneliness.. this is cruel and savage. It is heartless. I am suffering horribly but why should my wife and son. What does one do if homelessness is around the corner because one couldn’t work or has gone through their monies to pay for being alive as in food and shelter. What do you do. Homelessness is not an option for me for I am on probably the worlds most evil drug, klonopin. Going off of it cold turkey leads to coma or a horrible death. Now what.

  18. there is another way to parse that beancount halving of bi-polar suicides. ignore the bi-polar when counting. look to some more proximate cause that can be “cause.” fired? relationship broke up? well then just despondent!

    i get so mad when bipolar and schizophrenic “violence” is handled as just violence to others. or when death by neglects are ignored. (death by cop. death by freezing in an alley……..) it makes so easier to rest in ones bubble! grrrrr!!!

  19. You are absolutely right, Natasha. I’ve always felt this way about bipolar, although I was unaware the risk was now only 10%. As you point out, any medical condition needs to be managed when the risk of death is that high.

    I agree with Cameron as well, in that treatment for bipolar can cause serious “physical” conditions (high blood pressure – from antidepressants – and obesity – from antipsychotics – in my case.) I would prefer to be alive with my problems, than the alternative; but really, our medications must be improved. In the meantime, how do we manage the risk of these side effects versus the basic 10% risk of death?

    • Medications improved? The pharma companies may 300 million a year on the meds they have now. They dont care about us, they care about getting the children as clients for life. There are a few drugs that were made in Canada for us but the FDA wont let them in. Gee, I wonder why.

  20. Let’s factor out suicide for just a moment. Is there research to support the theory that very long term use of some bipolar meds may cause kidney, liver and/or thyroid problems that lead to premature death? Obesity from meds like lithium are another problem.

    • Lithium and kidney failure… 2 friends had to have a new kidney after approx 15 years on lithium.. There is plenty of evidence to support all kinds of issues with most drugs we take. You have been to the sites. We all have.
      Well Mrs X… we treated his bi-plorar very well but he died from the heart attack because lithium and the antipsychotic we put your husband on made him gain weight and his heart gave out.. Sorry for your loss…

      Next patient. ANd how can I help you with your BP…