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What Medications Treat Bipolar Disorder

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Tricyclic Antidepressants For Bipolar Disorder

Medications to treat Bipolar Disorder

Older tricyclic antidepressants used for treating bipolar disorder may be more likely to trigger a manic episode or rapid cycling than other depression drugs. They also tend to have more side effects than newer generation antidepressants, and can be especially dangerous in overdose. Nowadays, tricyclic antidepressants are often prescribed for conditions other than depression, such as neuropathic pain, migraine headaches, insomnia, or irritable bowel syndrome.

Like all antidepressants, experts recommend against taking a tricyclic medication without a mood stabilizer in bipolar I disorder, in order to minimize the chance of inducing mania symptoms.

Tricyclic antidepressants include:

Tricyclic antidepressants work by increasing activity of the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine, which scientists believe play a role in brain circuits that regulate mood. However, they may sometimes increase the risk of mania or rapid cycling — as well as possibly cause or worsen certain kinds of heart rhythm problems. They are also hazardous and potentially fatal in overdose. For those reasons, these drugs are used less often in general, and recommended less frequently in people with bipolar disorder.

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Does Bipolar Disorder Worsen With Age

In some cases, yes. As some people with bipolar disorder get older, depressive symptoms can become more common over time. One study found that people diagnosed at age 44 or younger tend to experience more depressive symptoms over time compared to people diagnosed at 45 or older.

On the other hand, there isnt much evidence that says if manic symptoms get worse over time. If you have bipolar disorder and you think your symptoms are changing with time, speak with your healthcare provider. They can help optimize your medications and other forms of treatment used to treat bipolar disorder.

Medicines For Bipolar Depression

Most of the time, doctors will start bipolar disorder treatment by prescribing a mood-stabilizing drug like lithium. But the FDA has approved some medicines for bipolar depression, too:

For some people, traditional antidepressants may trigger a manic episode. Because of this risk, your doctor should keep track of you closely if you take one.

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Alternative Treatments For Bipolar Disorder

Several alternative treatments have been suggested for bipolar disorder, though there is limited scientific evidence to support their effectiveness in managing symptoms. Most of these approaches involve taking herbal or dietary supplements.

American Journal of Psychiatry

Talk to your doctor before starting any nontraditional treatment for bipolar disorder to make sure that it won’t interact with any prescription medications you’re taking. Most importantly, don’t stop taking prescribed medications even if you’re feeling better. This could cause your symptoms to worsen.

Should You Treat Bipolar Disorder With Medication

Best Practices for Treatment of Bipolar Disorder

Only you can make the decision about whether or not its time to begin medication to treat your bipolar disorder. The most important thing is talking to your provider and psychiatrist to help you decide and gather all the information you need.

Through your conversations, youll be able to learn more about the medications your prescriber might be considering. Then you can start to learn how each might affect you. You can also learn about other forms of treatment that you are able to pair with medication in order to get the best results.

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Treatment Of Bipolar Depression

The treatment of bipolar depression is a major challenge, with few treatments of proven efficacy and, in particular, substantial controversy about the role of antidepressant drugs. Authors of guidelines and consensus statements on this topic often ponder why antidepressants are so commonly used despite the scarce evidence for efficacy. Until recently, after the work of Emil Kraepelin, bipolar depressive episodes were deemed phenomenologically and biologically similar to unipolar depressive episodes. Even as late as the 1990s, inclusion and exclusion criteria in clinical trials of antidepressants in patients with depressive disorder did not usually either select or stratify according to polarity. Earlier trials suggested that when given with antimanic treatment, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants were more effective and no more likely to induce mania than placebo, and were less likely to induce mania than tricyclic antidepressants. In 2007, a large trial found no benefit associated with the addition of paroxetine or bupropion to a mood stabiliser another reported that paroxetine was no better at achieving a durable recovery than placebo.

Nondrug Treatments Of Depression

Whilemedications are usually the cornerstone of treatment for bipolar disorder, ongoing psychotherapy is important to help patients understand and accept the personal and social disruptions of past episodes and better cope with future ones. Several specific forms of psychotherapy have been shown to help speed recovery and improve functioning in bipolar disorder, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal/social rhythm therapy, family therapy, and group therapy. In addition, because denial is often a problem — sticking with medications can be especially tricky in adolescence — routine psychotherapy helps patients stay on their medications.

The newer types of nonpharmocological treatments of depression are:

  • VNS involves implantation of a device that sends electrical signals to the vagus nerve in order to treat depression.
  • TMS is a procedure which involves the use of an electromagnetic coil to create electrical currents and stimulate nerve cells in the mood centers of the brain as a treatment for depression.
  • Light therapy has proved effective as an additional treatment when bipolar disorder has a connection to seasonal affective disorder. For those people who usually become depressed in winter, sitting for 20 minutes to 30 minutes a day in front of a special light box with a full-spectrum light can help treat depression.

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What Is Bipolar Disorder

Like mentioned, people living with bipolar disorder tend to experience intense emotions sometimes referred to as mood swings. Manic episodes a type of euphoric experience can cause someone to have high amounts of energy, activity, and irritability. On the other hand, depressive episodes can cause people to feel sad, hopeless, and potentially suicidal.

There are actually three forms of bipolar disorder bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymia. These different forms can cause different symptoms.

  • Bipolar I disorder: Someone with bipolar I disorder can alternate between manic and depressive episodes. Manic episodes may last for at least 7 days, and depressive episodes may last for at least 14 days. For some people, manic episodes may be so severe that immediate medical attention is needed.

  • Bipolar II disorder: Someone with bipolar II disorder experiences severe depressive episodes. They also have hypomanic episodes less severe manic symptoms than whats experienced with bipolar I disorder.

  • Cyclothymia: People with cyclothymia have hypomanic and depressive symptoms that arent as severe and dont last as long as they do for people with bipolar II disorder. Its considered to be a mild form of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Disorder: What You Need To Know And When To Seek Treatment

Bipolar Disorder Medication

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depressive disorder, is a mental illness characterized by the shifts between extreme moods periods of mania followed by depression, and vice versa. Everyone has emotional ups and downs life is full of highs and lows. For people with bipolar disorder, these mood swings shift rapidly from one extreme to another and last for weeks or even months.

These mood changes can lead to risky behaviour, damaged relationships and careers, and suicidal tendencies if left untreated. Mood swings can be equally difficult for families and loved ones. Some experts say it is one of the most difficult mental illnesses to accept. Unfortunately, and too often, the behaviours associated with bipolar disorder are often attributed to personal failing rather than the mental health condition that caused it.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder is essential for those affected to get the needed support. Here is what you should know about bipolar disorder and when to seek help if you or someone you know is suffering because of it.

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Drug Selection And Use

Choice of drug treatment for bipolar disorders Bipolar Disorders Bipolar disorders are characterized by episodes of mania and depression, which may alternate, although many patients have a predominance of one or the other. Exact cause is unknown, but heredity… read more can be difficult because all drugs have significant adverse effects, drug interactions are common, and no drug is universally effective. Selection should be based on what has previously been effective and well-tolerated in a given patient. If there is no prior experience , choice is based on the patients medical history and the severity of symptoms.

For severe manic psychosis, in which immediate patient safety and management is compromised, urgent behavioral control usually requires a sedating 2nd-generation antipsychotic Second-generation antipsychotics Antipsychotic drugs are divided into conventional antipsychotics and 2nd-generation antipsychotics based on their specific neurotransmitter receptor affinity and activity. SGAs may offer… read more , sometimes supplemented initially with a benzodiazepine such as lorazepam or clonazepam 2 to 4 mg IM or orally 3 times a day.

For less severe acute episodes in patients without contraindications , lithium is a good first choice for both mania and depressive episodes. Because its onset is slow , patients with significant symptoms may also be given an anticonvulsant or a 2nd-generation antipsychotic.

The Side Effects Of Bipolar Disorder Medication

One of the challenges associated with medication for bipolar disorder is the potential for a wide variety of side effects, some of which may be serious.

In addition to their potential for side effects, many of the drugs used to treat bipolar disorder can interact with birth control pills or may have health implications for women who are pregnant or might become pregnant. If you’re using birth control, are pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant, talk to your doctor before starting any medication for bipolar disorder.

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What Were The Results

For people with bipolar disorder, use of the following medicines and combinations had the lowest and highest health risks.

Hospital stays for mental health concerns. Compared with lithium alone, lamotrigine and bupropion alone or with a mood stabilizing anticonvulsant had a lower risk of hospital stays for mental health concerns. MAOI antidepressants and antipsychotics had a higher risk. Taking three or more medicines together also had a higher risk.

Self-harm. Compared with lithium alone, some mood stabilizing anticonvulsants, SSRI and SNRI antidepressants, new antipsychotics, bupropion, and a combination of SSRIs and bupropion had a lower risk of self-harm. Some combinations of new antipsychotics and other medicines had a higher risk.

Kidney disorders. Compared with medicine-free periods, lithium, MAOIs, and some combinations of psychotropic medicines had a higher risk of kidney disorders.

Diabetes. Compared with medicine-free periods, lithium, bupropion, mood stabilizing anticonvulsants, and SSRI antidepressants had a lower risk of diabetes. Some antipsychotics, SNRI antidepressants, and medicine combinations had a higher risk of diabetes.

Anticonvulsants For Bipolar Disorder

Drugs to Treat Bipolar Disorders

Three anticonvulsant drugs, used as mood stabilisers, are licensed to treat bipolar disorder:

  • carbamazepine also known as Tegretol. This is sometimes prescribed to treat episodes of mania. It can be prescribed if lithium is ineffective or unsuitable for you. For more information, see our page on carbamazepine.
  • valproate also known as Depakote, Epilim. This can be used to treat episodes of mania and is typically a long-term treatment. It can be prescribed if lithium is ineffective or unsuitable for you. Your doctor is unlikely to prescribe you valproate if you’re able to become pregnant. This is because it can lead to significant risks in pregnancy. For more information, see our page on valproate.
  • lamotrigine also known as Lamictal. This is licensed to treat severe depression in bipolar disorder, but NICE does not recommend it for treating mania. If you’re pregnant and taking lamotrigine, NICE recommends regular check-ups. For more information, see our page on lamotrigine.

For more information, see our pages on mood stabilisers.

Medication can help keep your moods on an even keel, but it is trial and error.

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Best Treatment For Bipolar Depression: Therapy

While medication works at the neurological level to ease mood swings and depression symptoms, therapy allows you to process the frustrations of living with bipolar depression and to develop tools and coping skills to move forward.

Some of the helpful aspects of therapy include:

  • Identifying negative thought patterns and replacing them with more positive ones
  • Learning stress management skills

What Are Mood Stabilisers

Mood stabilisers are a type of medication that can help if you have unhelpful moods swings such as mania, hypomania and depression They help to control and even out these mood swings.


Symptoms of mania can include:

  • feeling happy or excited, even if things are not going well for you,
  • being full of new and exciting ideas,
  • moving quickly from one idea to another,
  • hearing voices that other people cant hear,
  • being more irritable than normal,
  • feeling more important than usual,
  • talking very quickly, jumping from one idea to another, racing thoughts,
  • being easily distracted and struggle to focus on one topic,
  • being over familiar with people,
  • not being able to sleep, or feel that you dont want to sleep,
  • thinking you can do much more than you actually can,
  • making unusual, or big decisions without thinking them through, and
  • doing things you normally wouldnt which can cause problems. Such as:
  • spending a lot of money,
  • being more interested in sex,
  • using drugs or alcohol,
  • making unwise business decisions.


Hypomania is like mania but you will have milder symptoms. Treatment for hypomania is similar to the treatment for mania.


Symptoms of depression can include:

  • low mood,
  • sleeping too much or not being able to sleep,
  • feeling more or less hungry than usual,
  • losing or gaining weight, when you do not mean to, and
  • thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts.

Your mood may change quickly between mania and depression.

You can find more information about:

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Can Bipolar Disorder Be Cured

At this time, there isnt a cure for bipolar disorder, and its considered a lifelong condition. But, thankfully, treatments are available to help manage it.

Researchers are continuing to study bipolar disorder as time goes on. The exact cause of bipolar disorder isnt known, but its thought to be due to a number of genetic and environmental factors. As more research and potential breakthroughs become available, theres hope that healthcare providers will be able to more effectively help people with bipolar disorder in the future.

How To Use Aripiprazole

Lecture 39 Treating Bipolar Disorder with Mood Stabilizers and Other Alternatives

Read the Medication Guide and, if available, the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start taking aripiprazole and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually once daily. The dosage is based on your medical condition, response to treatment, age, and other medications you may be taking. Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the products you use . To reduce your risk of side effects, your doctor may direct you to start this medication at a low dose and gradually increase your dose. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.

The manufacturer directs to swallow this medication whole. However, many similar drugs can be split/crushed. Follow your doctor’s direction on how to take this medication.

If you are using the liquid form of this medication, carefully measure the dose using a special measuring device/cup. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose.

Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or for longer than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and your risk of side effects will increase.

It may take several weeks before you get the full benefit of this drug. Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time each day.

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Antipsychotics For Bipolar Disorder

If you’re currently experiencing a manic or hypomanic episode, your doctor is likely to prescribe you an antipsychotic.

Your doctor is also likely to prescribe antipsychotics if you experience psychotic symptoms in an episode of mania or severe depression.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence the organisation that produces guidelines on best practice in healthcare recommends the following antipsychotics:

  • haloperidol also known as Dozic, Haldol, Haldol Decanoate, Serenace
  • olanzapine also known as Zalasta, Zyprexa, ZypAdhera
  • quetiapine also known as Atrolak, Biquelle, Ebesque, Seroquel, Tenprolide, Zaluron
  • risperidone also known as Risperdal, Risperdal Consta

If your first antipsychotic doesn’t work, your doctor might offer another from the list above. If the second doesn’t work, your doctor might offer lithium to take together with an antipsychotic.

If you take an antipsychotic, you’ll need to have regular health checks with your doctor.

For more information, see our pages on antipsychotics.

How To Use Lamotrigine Odt

Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start taking lamotrigine and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions regarding the information, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Take this medication with or without food, usually 1 to 2 times daily or as directed by your doctor. Place the tablet on your tongue and move it around the mouth. Allow it to dissolve, and swallow with or without water, or use as directed by your doctor. If this medication comes in a blister pack, do not use the medication if the blisters are torn, broken, or missing.

Dosage is based on your medical condition, response to treatment, and use of certain interacting drugs. For children, the dosage is also based on weight.

It is very important to follow your doctor’s dosing instructions exactly. The dose must be increased slowly. It may take several weeks or months to reach the best dose for you and to get the full benefit from this medication. Use this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, use it at the same time each day.

Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when the drug is suddenly stopped. Your dose may need to be gradually decreased. Also, if you have stopped taking this medication, do not restart lamotrigine without consulting your doctor.

Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens.

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