What Medications Are Prescribed to Treat Bipolar Disorder?


According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 2.8% adults in the United States struggle with bipolar disorder. That percentage does not include children and adolescents, who the disorder also affects. Bipolar disorder is a very complicated condition; it can be challenging to treat at times because everyone with the disorder shows different symptoms. Additionally, everyone responds to medication differently. Because of that, people with bipolar disorder may have to try more than one type of medication before they find one that works for them. Some individuals may even require a combination of medications.

While finding the right medication for bipolar disorder can be tough, it is definitely worth it. Finding the right medication can help people with bipolar disorder manage their symptoms, maintain their daily routine, and live a happy life.

Individuals who have bipolar disorder should have a basic understanding of all the potential treatments available – including the different types of medications. A doctor will work with the patient to understand their symptoms and prescribe the best medication to treat them.

What It’s Like Living With Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also referred to as manic-depressive disorder, is a mood disorder characterized by extreme highs and lows. These high and low states are known as mania and depression. People with bipolar disorder may regularly display extreme changes in their behavior, mood, energy, and thought patterns.

Medications Prescribed For Bipolar Disorder

There are different types, or classes, of drugs that can safely treat bipolar disorder:

  • Lithium (brand names: Eskalith, Eskalith CR, and Lithobid) – This medication works in the brain to help stabilize moods. Side effects include nausea, dry mouth, shaking, diarrhea, frequent urination, increased thirst, weight gain, loss of appetite, kidney damage, fatigue, reduced thyroid activity, and an emotionally numb or dull feeling.
  • Anticonvulsant medications – Anticonvulsants are used to treat seizures, but can help with bipolar disorder as well. In fact, they are known in the medical world as “mood stabilizers.” Side effects include nausea, shaking, weight gain, dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, decreased white blood cell or platelet count, dry mouth, skin rashes. Here are some anticonvulsants most commonly used to treat bipolar disorder:
  • divalproex sodium (Depakote)
    • lamotrigine (Lamictal)
    • valproic acid (Depakene)
    • carbamazepine (Equetro)
    • topiramate (Topamax)
  • Antipsychotic medications – While typically used to treat schizophrenia, antipsychotics can also help with bipolar disorder. Potential side effects are drowsiness and sedation, dry mouth, shaking, increased appetite, weight gain, constipation, low blood pressure, restlessness, and increased saliva. Here are some examples of antipsychotics:
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
    • risperidone (Risperdal)
    • quetiapine (Seroquel)
    • asenapine (Saphris)
    • aripiprazole (Abilify)
    • ziprasidone (Geodon)

Doctors may also prescribe certain antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications to treat symptoms of bipolar disorder.

If you use any of the medications above and experience any side effects for more than a few weeks, contact your doctor as soon as possible. They may recommend a switch in medications or a different treatment plan.

Other Treatment Methods for Bipolar Disorder

It is important to note that people should continue with treatment even when they begin to feel better. There are many other ways to treat bipolar disorder in addition to medication, including:

  • psychotherapy
  • exercise regularly
  • healthy sleep schedule
  • nutrient-dense, balanced diet
  • relaxation or mindfulness techniques
  • reducing or avoiding alcohol use

At Elium Health, we offer comprehensive treatment plans for individuals with bipolar disorder. Our mental health treatment representatives are dedicated to helping patients find the perfect medication or combination of medications for them. To learn more about bipolar disorder and the medications used to treat it, contact us by calling 866-552-3758 or visiting contact@eliumhealth.com.





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