What Medications Treat Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder medicationsThere are many different medications you may be prescribed when receiving Bipolar Disorder treatment. Once you begin treatment for Bipolar Disorder, you will likely have to try a few different medications and dosages to see which ones work best for you. Treatment professionals often combine medications to get the best results for treating your Bipolar Disorder symptoms.

Here is a look at some of the many medications used to treat Bipolar Disorder:


Lithium is used to stabilize your mood and prevent the highs and lows experienced with Bipolar Disorder. Lithium has been used for many years to treat Bipolar Disorder. If you are prescribed lithium, your doctor will perform periodic blood tests to monitor your thyroid and kidney. Some of the common side effects of lithium are restlessness, dry mouth, and GI upset.


Anticonvulsants are a type of mood-stabilizing medication used in Bipolar Disorder treatment. Examples of anticonvulsants include valproic acid (Depakene or Stavzor), divalproex (Depakote), and lamotrigine (Lamictal). Doctors also find that the anticonvulsant asenapine (Saphris) can be helpful when treating mixed episodes. Common side effects of anticonvulsants are weight gain, dizziness, and sleepiness. It is rare, but certain anticonvulsants can cause skin rashes, blood disorders, or liver dysfunction.


Antipsychotic medications may offer help to people who don’t respond to an anticonvulsant. Examples of antipsychotics include aripiprazole (Abilify), olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal), and quetiapine (Seroquel). Only one antipsychotic medication is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat Bipolar Disorder: quetiapine. Naturally, side effects depend on the specific medication, but can include weight gain, sleepiness, tremors, blurred vision, and rapid heartbeat. Antipsychotic medication use also has the potential to affect memory and attention, and cause involuntary movements.


Depending on your unique Bipolar Disorder symptoms, your doctor may prescribe you an antidepressant. In some people, antidepressants can trigger manic episodes. This could be cancelled out if taken together with a mood stabilizer medication. Older antidepressants, like tricyclics and MAO inhibitors, may cause some potentially dangerous side effects when taken and require careful monitoring.


Symbyax is a combination Bipolar Disorder medication that uses the antidepressant fluoxetine and the antipsychotic olanzapine. Symbyax works as a depression treatment and a mood stabilizer in one pill. Symbyax is an FDA-approved medication that specifically treats Bipolar Disorder. The side effects include weight gain, drowsiness, and increased appetite.


Benzodiazepines can help to improve anxiety and sleep. Examples of benzodiazepines include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), and alprazolam (Xanax). Benzodiazepines are generally used to alleviate anxiety for a short time. Common side effects include drowsiness, loss of muscle coordination, and problems with memory.

Bipolar Disorder Treatment

While receiving Bipolar Disorder treatment, you must remember to be patient when taking new medications for Bipolar Disorder. It may take some time to figure out which drug combinations best manage your Bipolar Disorder symptoms.

It is also very important for you to communicate openly and honestly with your Bipolar Disorder treatment team about any adverse side effects. Once you find the right medication and dose strength, along with any needed therapy, your Bipolar Disorder symptoms will improve.

Tags: Bipolar Disorder symptoms, bipolar disorder treatment

One Response to “What Medications Treat Bipolar Disorder?”

  1. J.Scout May, 15 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    There are various treatments available to help those with bipolar disorder and the methods have become even better as the technology evolves.

Leave a Reply