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Let's talk about bipolar disorder medications

Bipolar disorder causes shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and skill to function. The symptoms of manic depression may result in damaged relationships, difficulty in working or getting to school, and even suicide. There are generally periods of normal mood, but if left untreated, people with manic depression can experience these shifts in mood. The great news is that manic depressions are often treated, and other people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.

What are the standard Medications for Bipolar Disorder?

There are dozens of bipolar disorder drugs, and everybody responds in their way—so finding the proper drug at the appropriate dose is often tricky. It can take tons of trial and error with various medications, or maybe a mixture of them, to ascertain what gives the simplest results with the fewest bipolar disorder medication side effects.

Mood stabilizers: Usually, these are the initial go-to for doctors. Researchers haven’t fully pinned down how they work. Still, a prevailing theory is that this class of medicine calms overactive areas of the brain related to bipolar disorder. Since mood stabilizers can take up to 2 weeks to kick in—and some doctors say that’s when the meds start to figure, with full effects at four to 6 weeks—you can also take an antipsychotic, which works within a couple of hours.

What are the indicative mood Stabilizers?

1. Lithium:

Sold under the brand names of Eskalith, Lithonate, and Lithobid, lithium has age on its side because it is the longest-used mood stabilizer. It’s historically been the foremost prescribed for two main reasons: 1) It’s the first effective mood stabilizer for reducing the severity and frequency of mania and hypomania. 2) It may help lessen depression and minimize the danger of suicide.

Kidney and thyroid functions are often affected. It’s what doctors call a “narrow therapeutic window,” which suggests that the drug can go from helpful to harmful very quickly. Hence, you’ll get to be monitored with blood tests every few months to ensure your lithium levels don’t climb too high, and you don’t have dry mouth, tremors, nausea, and sleepiness. It is important to watch your hydration. It can affect the quantity of lithium in your blood, so your doctor will ask you about what proportion of water and salt you ought to have a day.

2. Anticonvulsants

  • Anticonvulsants initially treated epilepsy—to stop seizures (convulsions). When those patients also reported that their moods seemed more stable, the drugs began to be prescribed for bipolar (and other mood disorders).

  • Researchers believe they work by alleviating the electrical activity within the brain. For patients who don’t react to lithium—the side effects are too significant, or lithium doesn’t seem to alleviate symptoms—anticonvulsants are likely a subsequent mood stabilizer your doctor will try. Depakote (valproate) may be a significant drug in this category. While it’s usually less effective than lithium, it’s not as toxic and, hence, no blood tests are needed. If your bipolar disorder isn’t super severe, doctors may start with Depakote and only move to lithium if Depakote fails to assist. Common side effects can include nausea, headache, dizziness, and sleepiness.

  • If neither lithium nor Depakote works—or if the side effects of either prove too difficult for a patient to endure—doctors can try other anticonvulsants. Tegretol (carbamazepine) and Lamictal (lamotrigine) are two common ones. But again, each drug works slightly differently on the brain, and each brain is exclusive.

Side effects

Mild side effects often improve as you discover the proper medications and doses that employment for you and your body adjusts to the medications. Ask your doctor if you’ve got bothersome side effects.

  • Don’t make changes or stop taking your medications. If you stop your bipolar disorder medication, you can experience withdrawal effects, or your symptoms may worsen or return. You can feel very depressed, suicidal, or experience a manic or hypomanic episode. If you think that you would like to form a change, call your doctor.

  • Nearly all medications that treat bipolar disorders have potential side effects. A number of the foremost common of those side effects include sleepiness, constipation, dry mouth, sexual dysfunction, blurred vision, weight gain or loss, and dizziness.

  • Some of the side effects are temporary and getaway within a couple of days to weeks of taking the drug, while others are long-term.

Antipsychotics: These meds are a touch mysterious in terms of how exactly they work, but what we all know is that they act on your brain’s neurotransmitters (those chemicals, like dopamine and serotonin, that you simply often hear mentioned in discussions about ‘standard’ depression). They could reduce the extent of neurotransmitters or blunt their effect—each drug works differently physiologically and on each individual.

What Are the Treatments for Bipolar I Disorder?

The bipolar disorder 1 treatment for manic episodes can include drugs, like mood stabilizers and antipsychotics, and sometimes sedative-hypnotics, which include benzodiazepines like clonazepam (Klonopin) or lorazepam (Ativan).

Mood Stabilizers

  • Lithium: this easy metal in pill form is particularly effective at controlling mania that involves classical euphoria instead of mixtures of mania and depression simultaneously. Lithium has been used for quite 60 years to treat manic depression. Lithium can take weeks to work fully, making it better for maintenance treatment than for sudden manic episodes. Blood levels of lithium must be monitored to avoid side effects.

  • Valproate (Depakote): This antiseizure medication also works to level out moods. It’s faster acting than lithium for an acute episode of mania. It’s also often used ‘off label’ for the prevention of the latest episodes. It can take as early as four to 5 days for improvement in mood.

  • Some other antiseizure drugs, notably carbamazepine (Tegretol) and lamotrigine (Lamictal), can have value in treating or preventing manias or depressions. Other antiseizure medicines are less well-established but still sometimes used experimentally for the treatment of manic depression, like oxcarbazepine (Trileptal).


For severe manic episodes, traditional antipsychotics (such as Haldol, Loxapine, or Thorazine) also as newer antipsychotic drugs, also called atypical antipsychotics, could also be necessary. Cariprazine (Vraylar) may be a newly approved antipsychotic to treat manic or mixed episodes. Aripiprazole (Abilify), asenapine (Saphris), clozapine (Clozaril), olanzapine (Zyprexa), quetiapine (Seroquel), risperidone (Risperdal), and ziprasidone (Geodon) are often used, and lots of other drugs are available. Antipsychotic medicines also are sometimes used for preventive treatment.


This class of medicine, mentioned as minor tranquilizers, includes alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan). They will also become habit-forming so that they should be closely monitored.


  • Common antidepressants like fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft) aren’t as effective for treating depression in bipolar I disorder as in major depressive episode. During a small percentage of individuals, they will also depart or worsen a manic episode during a person with manic depression. For these reasons, the first-line treatments for depression in manic depression involve medicines that are shown to possess antidepressant properties but also no known risk for causing or worsening mania.

  • The four FDA-approved treatments for bipolar depression are lurasidone (Latuda), olanzapine-fluoxetine (Symbyax) combination, quetiapine (Seroquel) or quetiapine fumarate (Seroquel XR), and cariprazine (Vraylar). If these fail, after a couple of weeks, a standard antidepressant or other medicine may sometimes be added. Psychotherapy, like cognitive-behavioral therapy, can also help.

  • People with bipolar I disorder (mania or depression) have a high risk for recurrences and are typically advised to require medicines continuously for prevention.

What Are the Treatments for Bipolar II Disorder?

  • Hypomania often masquerades as happiness and relentless optimism. When hypomania isn’t causing unhealthy behavior, it often may go unnoticed and thus remain untreated. It is often in contrast to full mania, which by definition, causes problems in functioning and requires bipolar disorder 2 treatment with medications and possibly hospitalizations.

  • People with bipolar II disorder can use preventive drugs that level out moods over the future. These prevent the negative consequences of hypomania and also help to stop episodes of depression.


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