Bipolar Disorder Medications

There are several medication therapies used to treat bipolar disorder. Antidepressants are no longer the primary medications used to treat depressive episodes, since they often lead to manic episodes. Mood stabilizers (such as lithium carbonate) combined with an antipsychotic medication (such as olanzapine) or an anticonvulsant medication (such as valproate) have been shown to be more effective medications for treating bipolar disorder. It may take several attempts at using different medications to find the treatment that works best for you.

The most common medications used to treat bipolar disorder:

  • Mood stabilizers, the most common of which is lithium carbonate
  • Antipsychotics
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressants

What to think about before taking these medications.

When you and your doctor decide what types of medications are needed to treat your bipolar disorder, consider:

  • The side effects of each medication and how well you can tolerate the side effects.
  • How often you will need to take the medications.
  • Whether you have other illnesses or disorders for which you are being treated, and how those medications will interact with medications for bipolar disorder.
  • Whether you have used any of the medications previously, and whether they worked for you.