Medications for Bipolar Disorder are prescribed, primarily, by psychiatrists. Bipolar Disorder is not curable, but it is manageable by medication. In the same way that aspirin can reduce a fever without curing the cause of that fever, bipolar medications act by controlling the symptoms of the disorder, even though they cannot cure the Bipolar Disorder itself.

Medications for Bipolar Disorder can help a person function despite that person still having some continuing difficulties dealing with the disorder. For example, the person with bipolar may be experiencing the psychotic symptoms sometimes associated with Bipolar Disorder, such as hallucinations, and anti-psychotics can help stop those hallucinations. But the person with bipolar may still experience the low moods of a bipolar depressive episode and need other medications, such as antidepressants, to help with those symptoms. Therefore, it is not uncommon for a person with Bipolar Disorder to take more than one medication.

How long you need to take medications for Bipolar Disorder differs from person to person as well. Most people who have Bipolar Disorder must take at least one medication, such as a mood stabilizer, for all of their life, whereas a medication such as an anti-psychotic may only need to be taken for a short period of time only during a psychotic break-through episode.

Medication for depression or anxiety may only be needed for a single period, or only for several months, and then the patient may never need it again. However, for people with Bipolar Disorder, for whom the depression is actually part of a bipolar depressive disorder, the antidepressant will be necessary to take indefinitely.

As with any medication, your psychiatrist will need to monitor your response to the bipolar medication. You will know best how well your bipolar symptoms are responding to the bipolar medications prescribed by your psychiatrist. It is very common to have your medication doses changed, and/or your medication itself changed when necessary to control the symptoms of your Bipolar Disorder. It is necessary for you to be honest with your psychiatrist and tell him/her how you are feeling.

Like any medication, bipolar medications are different in each person. Some people respond better than others. Some people have side effects, while others do not. Some people may respond better to one medication than they do another medication. Some may need larger dosages than others.

Medications known as mood stabilizers are used to help control Bipolar Disorder, since the primary characterization of the disorder is extreme mood shifts. Other medications are added to the mood stabilizers when necessary, usually for short periods of time, when episodes of bipolar mania or bipolar depression break through in spite of the mood stabilization medication. Mood stabilizers are used alone or sometimes in combination with antidepressants to control Bipolar Disorder. Anticonvulsant medications can also have mood stabilizing effects and may also be useful for bipolar episodes that have not responded to typically prescribed mood stabilizers.