Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depressive disorder, is a mental health condition that causes patients to experience mood swings such as periods of depression, mania, hypomania, or mixed episodes. There are many treatment options for bipolar disorder, but most cases of bipolar disorder are treated with a combination of medications and counseling or therapy.Medications for bipolar disorder are typically categorized as mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety, and anti-depressants. Usually, bipolar patients are given two or more of these types of medications in conjunction for therapy for the treatment of bipolar disorder.
Amoxapine, also known as Asendin, is an anti-depressant often prescribed for treatment of clinical depression and bipolar depression. Common side effects include dizziness, cotton mouth, drowsiness, headache, nausea, increased appetite, and weight gain. Less common side effects include diarrhea, heartburn, increased sweating, sleeplessness, and vomiting. Aventyl, otherwise known as Palemor, is another anti-depressant medication that has successfully treated bipolar depression. This medication has similar side effects.
The most commonly prescribed anti-depressant medication for bipolar disorder is Zyban, also known as Wellbutrin, or Bupropian. This medication is chemically unrelated to other antidepressants, and the reason it has been so successful as a treatment for bipolar disorder is still unknown.
Ativan is a common anti-anxiety medication that has had great success in treating symptoms of extreme anxiety in bipolar disorder patients. Side effects of Ativan include imbalance, dizziness, drowsiness, and slurred speech. Less common side effects include blurred vision, abdominal pain, cotton mouth, headache, nausea, trembling or shakiness, and weakness. Klonopin is another popular anti-anxiety medication that has had very impressive results when prescribed to bipolar disorder patients.
Tegretol is a anti-seizure medication that was later approved for use as an anti-psychotic in bipolar disorder patients. Tegretol is commonly prescribed as a mood stabilizer with great success, particularly in Type 1 Bipolar Disorder. Common side effects include shakiness, dizziness, drowsiness, and vomiting. Depakote is another anti-seizure medication found to have mood stabilizing properties in bipolar disorder patients. The side effects are similar to Tegretol, although they can be more severe. In recent years, Tegretol has gained popularity over Depakote as a mood stabilizer.
Verapamil is a calcium blocker used for treatment of mania in bipolar disorder patients. This medication is part of a family of blood pressure medications. Early studies showed that it had mood stabilizing properties. However, interest in the medication as a mood stabilizer has declined as further studies showed little or no improvement in bipolar disorder patients.
There are many other medications that are available for treatment of bipolar disorder, far too many to list here. The important thing to remember is that there are options. If your doctor places you on medication for bipolar disorder that makes you feel in any way worse, either physically or mentally, you should let your doctor know immediately so that alternative medication options can be discussed and tried. Medication treatment for bipolar disorder is largely trial and error at this stage, and this will continue to be so until more is known about the biological causes of bipolar disorder. However, medication combined with therapy will allow you to successfully overcome your bipolar disorder.