I’m currently co-facilitating a NAMI Family-to-Family course. Class 6 is all about medications and includes a very important section on medication adherence. In the class, we discussed the various reasons, many of which are valid, that people with brain disorders stop taking their medications.
Atypical antipsychotics, for example, have a nasty reputation for causing significant weight gain. Many psychotropic medications have negative sexual side effects, including diminished libido and an inability to climax. Some people, especially those who have experienced hypomania feel as though the medications flat line them – as we say in Bipolar Disorder For Dummies, “Normal is boring.”
Many people with bipolar stop taking their medications at some point in their treatment. This is a reality that patients, doctors, and family members often wrestle with. But it’s important to understand some of the possible reasons why. Understanding that there are often compelling factors in someone’s decision to stop their meds can help loved ones approach the problem without judgment. And for people with bipolar disorder it is critical to honestly evaluate why they want to stop taking their medication, because then they can tackle these issues directly and without judging themselves.