The excuses not to take bipolar medication may be as varied as the people who are prescribed the medication.  However, if you are a supporter of a loved one with bipolar disorder (or work with people who have it) and you become familiar with the most common excuses, you can know better how to combat them.


But if the medication can control the person's bipolar disorder, why would they not want to take their medication?  You need to know why they don't want to take their medication if you are going to try to get them to take it.


If you ask them why they don't want to take it and you get a vague answer such as, "I don't know," then you have nothing to go on.  However, if they give you a more specific answer when you ask them, it will probably come in the form of an excuse.


The biggest excuse for not taking their medication is the side effects; however, there are many ways to minimize the side effects of bipolar medication, and they can easily talk to their doctor about it if that is the problem.


Other excuses for not taking bipolar medication are:


  • Refusal to medicate away their "true selves."  They feel like they'll turn into a "robot."
  • They like their mania.  They like the "high" that mania brings and don't want to give it up.
  • Over-sedation.  People do not want to feel like they're in a fog all the time.
  • Weight gain.  Not all medications make them gain weight, but some do, and this is a common excuse.
  • Sexual performance.  Although not a common side effect, it is for some people, so they won't take their medication because of it.
  • Lack of money.  This is an excuse becoming more common in today's economy; however, there are drug companies who will provide medication for free (and other ways to get their medication).
  • Lack of insurance.  This is still used as an excuse, but also not valid, as there are ways to bypass this and still get their medication (see above).
  • No transportation.  They will say they have no way to get to the pharmacy and/or that the pharmacy doesn't deliver.
  • Shame and/or stigma.  Some people will blame everything on society.
  • No need for it.  They believe they can handle their bipolar disorder on their own, without medication.
  • They're cured.  Usually they think they're cured because the medication has been doing its job and they feel so much better (or they've been off it and they're on a manic high).
  • Drugs/alcohol.  Substance abuse can mask the symptoms of bipolar disorder, so they don't think they need the bipolar medication (or are afraid to mix the two).
  • Long-term effects.  Some people are just afraid of the long-term effects of the medication.
  • Pressure.  Some people feel that their family, friends, or co-workers (or society in general) are pressuring them not to take their medication.
  • Religion.  People say that their religion prevents them from taking medication.
  • 12-Step Program.  They will say that their 12-Step Program forbids any chemicals from entering their bodies, even prescription medication.
  • Pregnancy.  Some women will be concerned that their bipolar medication will affect their unborn child.
  • Performance.  People feel that they will perform at a better level without their medication.
  • Creativity.  Some people feel that bipolar medication robs them of their creativity, and they can be more creative without it.
  • Productivity.  People believe they get more done without their medication.
  • Prevents me from doing my old job.  Some people are still in denial of their bipolar disorder, and will blame their inability to work on their medication.
  • Can't stay up as late as I want to (used to).  To some people, this is an issue of control (or laziness, if they were only staying up to watch TV).
  • I forget to take it.  This is just a cop-out.  There are several ways to remind them to take their medication.

There are many reasons given for not taking bipolar medication, but they are just excuses. No matter how you look at it, the excuses are not valid.  Medication is a very important part of treatment for bipolar disorder.