There’s a common misconception that bipolar medication, and even other mental health medications, can dull a person’s creative edge. You often see this in movies or television shows where characters are depicted taking medication for their disorder and becoming a shell of who they used to be. Or, you have celebrities like Kanye West — who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2017— tweeting to his fandom that he produces his most creative work when he’s “been off his meds for six months.”
There’s no doubt that creativity and mood disorders go hand in hand. Many famous artists, such as Mozart, Poe and van Gogh, are believed to have suffered from the condition. When an individual with a mood disorder is experiencing a high or manic state, they often perform at an exceptionally creative level. These times can produce works of art that are undeniably exceptional. However, will there truly be an impact on an individual’s creative genius when they take the medication they so badly need?
The Side Effects of Bipolar Medication
Emotional blunting is a known side effect of some mental health medications, such as antipsychotics, antidepressants, antianxiety medications and mood stabilizers. In fact, one study found that the rate of emotional blunting in patients taking antidepressants was an astounding 46%. This state is described as feeling disconnected from the world and your creative mind.
The sedative nature of these medications is often necessary and helpful for individuals struggling with mental health conditions. The issue arises when these medications go too far and trigger a loss of creativity in the patient.
Why Bipolar Medication Is Necessary
First, it’s essential to understand the link between bipolar disorder and creativity. It’s widely accepted that one of the most positive traits of the bipolar condition is the intense creativity that individuals can experience. However, these feelings typically come out during periods of mania. This is because during mania, the individual experiences a widening expanse of their senses, memory and imagination. This can allow them to express exceptional creativity.
Unfortunately, periods of mania are also quite harmful and destructive. During mania, a patient can put themselves in danger, participate in reckless behaviors and even harm others. Bipolar medication aims to stabilize the patient’s mood so they don’t fall into a deep depression or state of mania.
Additionally, it’s quite common for individuals with bipolar disorder to go through periods of denying their condition. They’ll stop believing they have the disease, that it’s an issue or that they need medication. In fact, they may latch onto the dulled senses as an excuse to stop taking their medication. The patient may begin to believe that the positive traits of bipolar disorder, such as heightened creativity, make not taking their medication worthwhile.
This can only cause more damage, because when the person’s condition is left untreated they may fall into periods of mania or depression. Individuals with mental health conditions are at higher risk of becoming homeless, being incarcerated or dying by suicide. There is a 20% lifetime risk of suicide (Psychology Today: “Bipolar disorder and Suicide: What 12,000 Lives Can Teach Us”) for people with bipolar disorder. This risk is most significant when the person isn’t receiving treatment or taking their medication.
Creativity and Mood Disorders: What’s The Solution?
Medication has come a long way, and the right treatment should offer a balanced solution. A patient should be able to take medication to stabilize their mood without killing off their creativity. To assume that all creativity is related to their disorder and states of mania takes away well-deserved credit from the individual themselves. After all, at the end of the day, the creativity and work still came from the individual.
It’s possible to get help without triggering a complete loss of bipolar creativity by finding the right medication at the proper dosage. If someone feels dulled on one drug, they should communicate with their doctor. Your doctor should help you test out different medications at varying dosages until you find the right one for you. It’s crucial to see a doctor who values your creativity and is willing to work to find the right solution.
The idea that bipolar medication has to dull your senses is simply untrue. In an article for The Mighty titled “The Myth of ‘Losing Your Edge’ to Medication,” writer Jennifer Wilson described how she performed when she wasn’t on her medication. Wilson had written half a novel, a couple of poems and nothing more. Once she went on medication, that all changed. Wilson was able to focus on her tasks while still maintaining her creativity. After just one year of medication, she completed three novels and three volumes of poetry.
Wilson’s story clearly describes how beneficial bipolar medication can be when it’s done right. Rather than crushing the spirit of your creativity, it can focus it. Creativity and mood disorders can work together; it may just take some time to find the right solution for you.
More often than not, if you’re experiencing a dulling of your creative edge while taking medication, it’s likely attributed to the medication being too sedative. You might find that you have low energy or motivation and can’t bring yourself to work. Of course, if you’re too sedated, you won’t be creative. So, the medication isn’t ruining your creativity; it’s dulling your motivation. Explain this side effect to your doctor to find the right medication that won’t leave you sleepy and unmotivated all day.
If an individual believes they only have artistic talent due to their disorder, there are bigger factors to address here. You might want to consider therapy to address why you don’t believe you have the creative ability within yourself. In an article titled “When I Realized I Don’t Have to be Manic to be an Artist,” writer Mary Sukala discusses how she had to find the right medication and work with a therapist to reach her normalcy and accept her creativity as within her, not within her disorder.
FHE Health Can Help
Treatment for mental health is a necessary step for an individual to live their optimal life. FHE Health offers mental health treatment programs, specializing in conditions such as bipolar disorder, that combine therapy and medication. The doctors at FHE Health value your creativity and will work with you to find a solution that is not only nondisruptive to your life but also allows you to become more focused. Take the first step today and book your consultation by calling (844) 299-0618.