Bipolar Disorder medications are used to control the symptoms of the disorder in the same way that aspirin is used to control the fever of an illness, without curing the illness itself. Bipolar Disorder is still not curable at this point; however, its symptoms are manageable through the use of medications.
Bipolar Disorder medications are classified into four types, but the two most important types of medication used to control bipolar symptoms are mood stabilizers and antidepressants. Other types of Bipolar Disorder medications are antipsychotics and anticonvulsants.
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.
Mood stabilizers are used to improve the symptoms during a bipolar manic episode as well as sometimes improving the low mood of a bipolar depression. Three mood stabilizers widely used in the United States are: Lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid, Lithonate), Valproate (Depakote), and Carbamazepine (Tegretol). Newer mood stabilizers used in the treatment of Bipolar Disorder include: quetiapine (Seroquel) and risperidone (Risperdal).
Lithium (Carbolith, Duralith, Lithobid, Eskalith) was the first mood stabilizing medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of bipolar manic episodes, and is often very effective in controlling bipolar mania and also in preventing the recurrence of both bipolar manic and bipolar depressive episodes. Lithium is still one of the standard mood stabilizing medications for use in treatment of Bipolar Disorder.
Anticonvulsant medications may be combined with lithium, or with each other, for maximum effect. Newer anticonvulsant medications used in treatment for Bipolar Disorder include: lamotrigine (Lamictal), gabapentin (Neurontin), and topiramate (Topamax) for their effectiveness in stabilizing the mood shifts of Bipolar Disorder.
Antidepressants are used alone to treat a bipolar depressive episode or in combination with mood stabilizers. Commonly prescribed antidepressants include: amitriptyline (Elavil), bupropion (Wellbutrin), citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), mirtazapine (Remeron), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), and venlafaxine (Effexor).
Antipsychotic medication is prescribed when the person with Bipolar Disorder is exhibiting symptoms of psychotic symptoms during a bipolar episode, such as delusions and hallucinations. Antipsychotic medication prescribed is: chlorpromazine (Thorazine), ziprasidone (Geodone), quetiapine (Seroquel), and risperidone (Risperdal). Atypical antipsychotic bipolar medications, including clozapine (Clozaril), and olanzapine (Zyprexa) are also being prescribed for Bipolar Disorder. Clozapine (Clozaril) has been shown to be helpful, in some cases, to have mood stabilization properties in cases of people who do not respond to lithium or anticonvulsants. Olanzapine (Zyprexa) has also been used in cases of acute bipolar mania.