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Medications for Bipolar Disorder

Other names: Bipolar Affective Disorder; Bipolar Affective Mood Disorder; Bipolar I Disorder; Bipolar II Disorder; Manic Depression; Manic Depressive Disorder; Manic Depressive Illness; Mood Disorder

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder. People with bipolar disorder fluctuate from feeling down and depressed to feeling super-charged or manic.

The disorder used to be called manic depression or manic-depressive illness. However, nowadays, several types of bipolar disorder are recognized: bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymic disorder, mixed features, and rapid-cycling disorder.

What are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Symptoms vary among people with bipolar disorder, depending on what type of bipolar disorder they have. All have slightly different symptoms. Symptoms reflect mood opposites and may include:

  • Periods of high or irritable mood
  • High energy levels
  • Scattered and unproductive activity sometimes with painful or embarrassing consequences
  • Little, if any, need for sleep
  • Thinking that is out of step with reality
  • Psychotic symptoms, such as false beliefs (delusions) or false perceptions (hallucinations)
  • Very low mood
  • Deep depression
  • Self-loathing
  • Feelings of hopelessness or despair
  • Refusal to get out of bed.

Some people only develop milder symptoms of mania without psychotic symptoms. This is called hypomania. People who don’t have full blown episodes of mania are more likely to have bipolar II disorder.

These mood swings are much more severe than the normal ups and downs most people go through. In between mood swings, most people with bipolar disorder can lead relatively normal lives.

The time spent in each mood state (ie, mania or depression) varies depending on the type of bipolar disorder but can range from days to months. The severity of the mood state can also vary significantly, with some people only ever experiencing mild symptoms.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

Although the exact cause is unknown, there does seem to be a genetic link, and you are more likely to get bipolar disorder if you have another family member with the condition.

Symptoms are often triggered by a stressful situation or circumstance. This may take the form of a relationship breakdown; physical, sexual, or emotional abuse; money problems; or the death of a close family member or loved one.

Symptoms are thought to be due to changes in the balance of some neurotransmitters in the brain, specifically noradrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine.

It can be hard to recognize bipolar disorder initially. During a manic phase, a person with bipolar disorder may be incredibly fun to be around. However, as the condition progresses, these manic episodes become more extreme.

Some people with bipolar disorder only experience slight mania and are mainly depressed. Misdiagnosis as depression is common. If an antidepressant is prescribed without a mood stabilizer, it will often catapult the person into a full-on manic state. Recognizing bipolar illness is important for treatment, as mood stabilizing agents are the best type of medication.

How is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

Bipolar disorder can be treated. For best results, medication needs to be combined with therapy sessions and the instigation of good routines.

The most effective treatment for bipolar disorder is a mood stabilizing agent. These medications even out the troughs and the peaks of mood swings to keep you on a more even keel. Other treatments may include antipsychotics or antidepressants.

Medications should be combined with nonpharmacological treatments, such as:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This looks into any negative thought patterns you may have and challenges them in order to change your behavior.
  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy: This aims to improve disruptions to your biological or social rhythms (such as sleep disturbances and relationship issues).
  • Family focused therapy: This involves your family in your treatment, educating them and allowing them to support you fully.

Drugs used to treat Bipolar Disorder

The following list of medications are in some way related to, or used in the treatment of this condition.

Drug name Rating Reviews Activity ? Rx/OTC Pregnancy CSA Alcohol
Lamictal 8.2 544 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: lamotrigine systemic

Drug class: triazine anticonvulsants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

lamotrigine 8.1 853 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: lamotrigine systemic

Brand names:  Lamictal, Lamictal ODT, Lamictal CD

Drug class: triazine anticonvulsants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Latuda 6.4 581 reviews
Rx B N X

Generic name: lurasidone systemic

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Seroquel 6.8 345 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: quetiapine systemic

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Abilify 5.6 292 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: aripiprazole systemic

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Vraylar 5.8 266 reviews
Rx N X

Generic name: cariprazine systemic

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

lithium 7.4 297 reviews
Rx D N X

Generic name: lithium systemic

Brand name:  Lithobid

Drug class: antimanic agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

lurasidone 6.4 620 reviews
Rx B N X

Generic name: lurasidone systemic

Brand name:  Latuda

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Abilify Maintena 5.9 14 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: aripiprazole systemic

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

cariprazine 5.8 279 reviews
Rx N X

Generic name: cariprazine systemic

Brand name:  Vraylar

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph

Depakote 6.1 153 reviews
Rx D N X

Generic name: divalproex sodium systemic

Drug class: fatty acid derivative anticonvulsants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

quetiapine 7.0 577 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: quetiapine systemic

Brand names:  Seroquel, Seroquel XR

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

gabapentin Off-label 8.2 122 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: gabapentin systemic

Drug class: gamma-aminobutyric acid analogs

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

clonazepam Off-label 8.6 86 reviews
Rx D 4 X

Generic name: clonazepam systemic

Drug class: benzodiazepines, benzodiazepine anticonvulsants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

bupropion Off-label 7.1 76 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: bupropion systemic

Drug class: miscellaneous antidepressants, smoking cessation agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

Risperdal 6.4 82 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: risperidone systemic

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Seroquel XR 7.4 96 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: quetiapine systemic

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

divalproex sodium 6.3 228 reviews
Rx D N X

Generic name: divalproex sodium systemic

Brand names:  Depakote, Depakote ER, Depakote Sprinkles

Drug class: fatty acid derivative anticonvulsants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Geodon 5.6 216 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: ziprasidone systemic

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Zyprexa 6.5 138 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: olanzapine systemic

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

oxcarbazepine Off-label 8.0 146 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: oxcarbazepine systemic

Drug class: dibenzazepine anticonvulsants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

sertraline Off-label 7.3 45 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: sertraline systemic

Drug class: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

Depakote ER 7.4 45 reviews
Rx D N X

Generic name: divalproex sodium systemic

Drug class: fatty acid derivative anticonvulsants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

risperidone 6.1 159 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: risperidone systemic

Brand names:  Risperdal, Risperdal Consta

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Saphris 7.3 210 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: asenapine systemic

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Topics under Bipolar Disorder

Learn more about Bipolar Disorder

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Drugs.com Health Center

Mayo Clinic Reference

Legend

Rating For ratings, users were asked how effective they found the medicine while considering positive/adverse effects and ease of use (1 = not effective, 10 = most effective).
Activity Activity is based on recent site visitor activity relative to other medications in the list.
Rx Prescription Only.
OTC Over the Counter.
Rx/OTC Prescription or Over the Counter.
Off-label This medication may not be approved by the FDA for the treatment of this condition.
Pregnancy Category
A Adequate and well-controlled studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus in the first trimester of pregnancy (and there is no evidence of risk in later trimesters).
B Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.
C Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
D There is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
X Studies in animals or humans have demonstrated fetal abnormalities and/or there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience, and the risks involved in use in pregnant women clearly outweigh potential benefits.
N FDA has not classified the drug.
Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Schedule
N Is not subject to the Controlled Substances Act.
1 Has a high potential for abuse. Has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. There is a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
2 Has a high potential for abuse. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
3 Has a potential for abuse less than those in schedules 1 and 2. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
4 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 3. It has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 3.
5 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 4. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 4.
Alcohol
X Interacts with Alcohol.

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Further information

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