Meds, Mind, Body & Benefits > Mental Health & HIV


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     Anybody else have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, either before or after hiv entered the picture? I have been diagnosed with it before, but it has come up again since ole hiv has made itself home so I thought I'd bring it up here. I recently was put on Zyprexa and have been having one of those The fog has been lifted times if ya know what I mean. I've always been more on the depressed side of it, never really full blown mania. But hypomania or mixed states where I'm depressed with the racing mind as well, to put it in short. Deep breath.
     I had been diagnosed and treated for plain depression a few times since my early twenties (34 now), but was actually diagnosed with bipolar when I was seeing a psychiatrist about 4 years ago now. I was on lithium and prozac for the year that I saw him. I ended up with the hand shakes, that other people could notice, but I stuck on with it. But then I moved out of state. To here in Alabama like my name implies. Long story shorter; I quit all meds until after testing positive at the beginning of this year when I went on Atripla and Lexapro at the same time.
     I am not currently seeing a therapist of any kind. My meds are coming from my hiv doc. My insurance (that I am thankful to have) does not offer me many options of therapists near me. I drive 2.5 hours to my hiv doc. But that is only every 2 months. I just can't do that for a therapist. I had one when I first moved here, but at the 2nd session he kindly told me I was doing just fine and I wouldn't have to come back often at all. This was after 15 minutes. I didn't see the need to go back.
     After a couple of months of still being depressed my doc switched me to Effexor. But that didn't really do much to help counter the depression either. Until at my last visit he asked me if I ever had racing type thoughts or something. And I said, Oh yeah. I have been diagnosed with bipolar before, not just depression. He was like, were you ever going to tell me? But like I said I always think of myself as more depressed. It wasn't until he brought it up, then oh yeah.
So he put me on Zyprexa. I have also decided to keep on with the Effexor. I really don't know if the sustiva is adding to the depression so I don't want to be without some anti depressant at this point.
     But I'm feeling at a strange point right now. I actually got things done in the last couple of weeks. I cleaned the house instead of just thinking about it. Little things. But not overboard. But I don't know what to do now. I know I'm not really dealing with anything. But I don't really know how to go about finding another shrink. I guess I lucked out with my first one. I'm sort of at the taking a deep breath part, but i don't know what I'm going to do next.

Except to start by saying Howdy. Anyone else have bipolar going on in their life?


p.s. I'm also up to 754 cd4 from 315, and still undetectable so I can't be complaining on that end....

Hi Steven,

I don't have bipolar, but I wonder if you told your hiv doc that you do? I don't think Sustiva would be doing you any favours as it can induce or add to depression in people who do not have bipolar, so it would not seem to be a good choice for someone who is bipolar. Please discuss this with your hiv doc - you may be able to switch to something else.

I wish I could do more to help. Keep reaching out though, because that is a step in the right direction.

Hang in there hun!


My Hiv doc does know about the bipolar. He's the one that put me on the Zyprexa for it. He didn't mention switching the Atripla. But I know I might want to at some point. Since depression has been around for me since long before hiv it's hard to say if the Sustiva is adding to it, so I'm not really wanting to switch it yet. I have a feeling I'd still be depressed if I wasn't on meds so I'll stick it out a bit longer before trying to switch.


Hi, I am bipolar and have dealt with bipolar disorder since I was 18. I have had mostly the depression as well. As I have grown older the manic episodes become more pronounced and recognizable to me. Sustiva has not exactly made things easier. Before my seroconversion my mental health took quite a dramatic drop. I was crying all the time and the manic episodes resulted in heavy drinking, sleepless nights, quick talking, and racing thoughts. One night I was out all night drinking and ended up dancing on one of the main streets of the city for all the cars going by. Living in the Detroit area this did not result in anything good.
I have been on a great array of psychotropic drugs. from lithium, respridol, wellbutron, serequel, prozac, effexor, lamictal, and God remembers what else. I have been hospitalized three times, in the psych ward.
HIV has played havoc with my mental health as well. I am constantly working on my mental health seeing therapists, to the point where I can run therapy. I also have regular med evaluations with a psychiatrist. Fortunately I have been working with a team consisting of my psychiatrist, my primary care physician, and my ID.
Knowing cognitively what to do and about the disorder is once step but effectively when you are in the middle of an episode is another thing no matter how mild the episode. A good support system helps. People that are aware of your disorder that can help you to realize where you are, and what you need to do, to make things better.
This is a constant battle exacerbated by HIV itself and the side psychotropic side effects of many of the treatments.
Simplifying my life has helped, avoiding triggers, and keeping a journal to realize what those triggers are has helped me. I have found that many bipolar symptoms have become defense mechanisms for things that happen in my life. By avoiding or eliminating those triggers I find that things become more stable.
It is a constant battle. I find that accepting who you are the way you process life and constantly forgiving and being kind to yourself helps.
Constant med evaluations and knowing what you are taking and how it affects you helps.
If you need to talk feel free to IM me, I am open to discussion.

Zyprexa works really well for bipolar disorder for a lot of people.  I hope it's working for you. :-*


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