At this period and time, the mood stabilizers for those with bipolar disorder are the old standby lithium and the newer divalproex sodium.  The two medications have proven to help many patients, but a large group of those patients with bipolar disorder have experienced problems from the side effects.

Many clinicians began experimenting or use off-label medications as an option, only after all traditional treatment methods have failed or proven to have grave side effects. All medications have side effects and the new drugs also work differently for each individual, which produces its own negative side effects.


These discoveries and the effectiveness of these medications point to a new era for those with bipolar disorder. As more controlled studies are conducted, newer drugs will be approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of bipolar disorder conditions.

The off-label group of medications that is mostly used for bipolar disorder, is a group known as anticonvulsants. Their primary use is for the treatment and control of epilepsy. Some of these medications have shown great promise in treating those with bipolar disorder - they help in stabilizing mood swings.

The drug Tegretol has proven to be as effective as a mood-stabilizer. Tegretol is the first-inline treatment choice but has not been approved by FDA for the treatment of bipolar disorder. The side effects associated with Tegretol include: dry mouth and throat, urination, decreased sense of taste, dizziness, drowsiness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, constipation and diarrhea. Some patients may also experience clumsiness, edema, skin rash, and cardiovascular complications and double vision.

Additionally, there is the possibility of such life-threatening effects such as the suppression of blood cells, which fight off infection and prevent bleeding. The medication can also have negative interactions with Luvox, Prozac, and lithium. Do not take with monoamine oxidase inhibitors; and it should never be used by pregnant or nursing patients. Regular blood count monitoring and periodic liver function tests should be routinely conducted due to the liver induction of enzymes in the liver.

Lamictal (lamotrigine), Neurontin (gabapentin), and Topamax (topiramate) are just a few off –the-counter drugs to treat bipolar disorder. The ABS-103 is being evaluated for treatment predominately for epilepsy, migraine headaches, and mania in bipolar disorder . The evidence proves to be as effective as Depakote. ABS-103 does not cause as many side effects as the others and the facts may prove safe for women, during their childbearing years.

The new generation of drugs known as atypical antipsychotics had also been explored in some studies as potential treatment options. Zyprexa (olanzapine) was currently turned down for the treatment of bipolar disorder by the FDA.  Zyprexa has provided anti-manic effectiveness in research trials when administered in conjunction with other medications. Zyprexa’s side effect is excessive weight gain, which can be problematic for patients and may lead to non-adherence to the treatment. Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate) is another atypical antipsychotic currently in clinical studies for patients with bipolar disorder.These new drugs are helping patients live a better quality of life.