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Monday, December 12, 2011

UPDATE: Meds Change Successful!!

This post is an update to my  ALERT: Meds Change post from the 11/16/11.  At that time I had just seen my psychiatrist the Friday before on 11/11/11.  I could of made it an 11 a.m. appointment and arrived 11 minutes late, but that would be silly.

My appointment was from 2 to 2:20 p.m.  I hate those 20 minute "medication management" type visits.  I feel I don't have enough time to process all the information and make good decisions on how to move my treatment program forward.
30 mg Abilify Tablets

Anyway, I have been working with my pdoc since 11/11/11 to reduce and eliminate Abilify (Aripiprazole) from my medication regime.  The good news is that I was successful, yay.  I'm now Abilify free!

The dose reduction went like this:
  1. On 11/11 reduced Aripiprazole from 30 mg to 15 mg each evening.  Just break that tablet in half and swallow.  
  2. On 11/23 reduced from 15 mg to 7.5 mg each evening.  You should of seen those pills as I broke them into four pieces using my fingernails.  I don't think they were meant to be broken up like that.  They wanted to stay whole and complete.  But the good doctor said do it so I did. 
  3. On 12/7 I stopped taking Abilify completely.
I've been off the drug now for five days and things are going okay.  I still have my moderate depression which can range from mild to severe depending on the brain biochemistry flavor of the day.  I notice that I'm less tired in the morning and find it easier to get out of the darn bed each day.  This is an important daily ritual for me.  If I'm not out of bed by 9 a.m. then it's likely the whole day will be shot.

Most importantly I experienced no withdrawal symptoms.  I am very pleased with my divorce to Abilify.  It's going to save several hundred dollars over the year and I don't have to put up with its whiny, sleepy side effects.
Dopamine Receptors Impacted by Abilify

Now I'm stable with moderate depression taking my three psychotropic meds, including Xanax as needed, up to 2 mg per day.  I'm taking 60 mg Cymbalta, 450 mg Wellbutrin, and 300 mg Lamictal daily.  Each day I also take 300 mg of Omega-3, a multivitamin, and 325 mg of aspirin.

I've been taking the aspirin for the last couple weeks after reading an article by James M. Greenbelt on how inflamation in the brain can make you insane in the membrane.  He says, "It appears that inflammation and the complicated collection of immune system chemical messengers called cytokines play and important role in brain function and may cause psychological symptoms."

Not really a raving review for addressing brain inflammation but the article makes sense.

Another study was more promising, especially for people like me that have treatment resistant depression.  He states, "A study involving depressed patients classified as non-responders supplemented each patients standard antidepressant treatment with the addition of aspirin, an anti-inflammatory.  More than 50% of these patients responded to this combination treatment.  At the end of the study more than 80% of the group responsive to the anti-inflammatory went into remission."

Now that's what I'm talking about.  Remission.  Wouldn't that be awesome.  It's too bad there's not a similar study/trial evaluating aspirin as an add-on med for bipolar depression.

I think I'll keep taking the aspirin each day and see if it makes my brain feels less inflammatory, whatever that feels like.

N-acytelcholine (NAC) molecule
I'm not sure what to do next.  I can try and reduce or eliminate another pharmaceuticals.  I'd go after Cymbalta next.  I know I'd be a fool to get off the Lamictal and I respond well to Wellbutrin.  I can not attest to the effectiveness of the Omega-3 and multivitamin.  I think they make such a small difference in my mood that I can't tell if they are doing anything.

I also want to try the supplement NAC (N-acytelcholine).  I wrote about it here.  I am okay with the unidentified but likely low risks it poses.  Yes, that's it.  I'm going to stay with my current meds mix until my next pdoc appointment in January.  We'll discuss taking NAC at that time.  I think she'll go for it.

In the meantime I will enjoy my new found alertness and wakefulness.  I hope it lasts for awhile.

Bye bye Abilify.  That's one less box car of meds riding on this precarious, crazy train called me.


  1. Jeff I am glad you got off of the Abilify. I hope you have good results with the asprin. That's the first time I've heard of it being used to treat mental illness. It's very interesting.

  2. Thanks Wayne! I'll keep you posted. I think aspirin once a day is good for your heart or something. Take care, Jeff