Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Blog - Bipolar Motherhood

I've started my new blog - Bipolar Motherhood. Check it out.

Pregnancy and Medications

I get a lot of email asking if and how much medication I was taking during the pregnancy and if I felt it affected my daughter. So I wanted to post about this important topic.

First, I want to start out by saying I believe that every bipolar woman has to make the choice for themselves whether to take psychiatric medication during pregnancy. I primarily hear three things:
1. The mom-to-be doesn't want to take any medication
2. The OB/GYN or psychiatrist has told them to get off all medication during the pregnancy.
3. The mom-to-be doesn't think she could last the whole pregnancy without medication.

This is a very personal issue and decision that should be made with lots of planning.

Here's my story. I have bipolar I disorder with psychosis (which means I have been through psychosis in the past not that I am currently with it). I firmly believe that medication keeps me well (or at least helps me stay better). Given the severity of my past episodes I didn't think it was wise to stay off all medication during the pregnancy. I have been criticized by a few women for this choice, but my gut and instincts said for me it was the right decision. I did however not want to be on medication during my first trimester which is the riskist time for birth defects. I planned for about 8-12 months before getting pregnant to lower my medications so that I would not abruptly stop them when I became pregnant.

I was all psychiatric medications during my first trimester. The only drug I took was Zofran for my hyperemesis (excessive vomitting). When I reached my second trimester I went back on Lamictal and remained on it to this day. I did not think that I would stay well during my pregnancy without the medication -- I didn't want to risk a relapse.

I don't think that my daughter has had any problems from the medication I was on during the pregnancy or breastfeeding. In fact she is ahead of the curve on pretty much everything. She's amazing.

I'll write more soon ...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Safety of Polytherapy Anti-convulsants (mood stabilizers) During Pregnancy

The North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry is pleased to announce findings on the comparative safety of some combinations of anticonvulsant drugs. We have previously published our findings regarding phenobarbital, carbamazepine, valproate and lamotrigine taken alone as monotherapy. Since we have analyzed the rate of malformations in infants for each of these specific drugs when taken alone, we wanted to investigate the effect they might have on the prevalence of major malformations when taken in combination.

A common perception in prescribing anticonvulsant drugs during pregnancy is that the combination of two or more drugs harbors a greater risk of major malformations.

Read the full study on drug therapy during pregnancy

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

BlueLite Therapy, Dark Light Therapy?

I've spent a lot of time researching the different light therapies this past month. I have decided I really need to take a more natural approach to my treatment. Even though I've been on multiple mood stabilizers, antidepressants and even an anti-psychotic I still have not been able to get my cycles under control.

I haven't really talked about this much here, but I really do believe that to this day the effects of my pregnancy have not been corrected. Let me explain. Prior to becoming pregnant I was completely stable for 5 years and on only one medication daily (Lamictal) and as needed sleep meds (Ambien & Sonata). I had to wait till I was really stable before I felt confident that I could have a baby. I honestly felt a little like I was "cured" after having NO mood issues for 5 years.

Prior to my stability I had a severe manic episode where I went into psychosis. My official diagnosis has been Bipolar 1 with Psychosis. I remember my psychiatrist once telling me that statically with the severity of my illness I would most likely even on meds relapse at least every two years if not more. And that over my lifetime I should expect a worsening of the disease. He also told me that I should consider adoption and not biological pregnancy. It was a devastating diagnosis.

Fast forward 5-6 years and my doctor thought having a biological baby was no problem and he even weaned me off all meds for my first trimester. He told me he has never seen a patient that had recovered as well as I had. This was a huge triumph.

Fast forward to two years after having my daughter and I had postpartum depression and then began a rapid cycling. I am now classified as a ultra rapid cycler - it's not a good diagnosis to have.

And back to our scheduled programming -- Light Therapy

I've gotten the 'Philips goLITE BLU Light Therapy Device'. I've been using it everyday for about 2 weeks. And I notice a huge difference in my energy level and mood. I am a big believer in the blue light.

Here is some interesting reading about Light therapy.