Bipolar Disorder Drug Treatment

2013 Bipolar Update

Bipolar Disorder Drug Treatment

Today, bipolar disorder drug treatment represents the most important strategy towards addressing one of the most common mood disorders that we know. However, given that different cases require different treatment strategies, it is fairly normal to expect that finding the right medication will take a while. For this, the process of bipolar disorder drug treatment becomes a long, drawn-out, trial-and-error exercise which requires commitment from patient, family-members and doctors alike in order for it to be successful.

To this end, doctors recommend an extensive array of medications that can help address the various challenges surrounding bipolar disorder. In the following sections, we’ll take a look at some of the more popular varieties that patients are using to manage their mood problems.

Lithium. This drug is one of the oldest and most extensively studied medications for bipolar disorder. It is classified as a mood stabilizer and works within a relatively short period of one to two weeks after it was first taken. However, lithium dosages need to be closely monitored as excessively high amounts can lead to toxic side effects while too low dosages will only prove ineffective. Lithium also carries other side effects including weight gain, drowsiness, and diarrhea in some case but given its extensive use in bipolar disorder drug treatment, doctors rely on it more than with other drugs.

Anticonvulsants. The most popular anticonvulsant is Valproate or valproic acid and is used to address mania symptoms and control mood swings. Other anticonvulsants used in typical bipolar disorder drug treatment strategies are Topamax, Lamictal and Tegretol which are all FDA-approved for stabilizing mood swings. Like lithium, this class of medication also carries unwanted side effects like weight gain and dizziness so monitoring dosage is very critical.

Antidepressants. These types of medication do not work for all types of bipolar disorder; rather, the use is restricted for cases that predominantly manifest depression symptoms. In recent years, doctors have begun to shift their prescriptions away from antidepressants after research showed that it may have adverse effects on certain patients. To date, there are still bipolar disorder drug treatment options that rely heavily on antidepressants but in these cases, utmost attention should be given on the dosages to ensure that it is kept within a very narrow range to reduce the risk of the adverse effects manifesting and creating new problems.

Antipsychotic drugs. These are designed for extreme cases of mania where hallucinations are observed to occur. Examples include Zyprexa, Risperdal, Clozaril, and Abilify among others. Antipsychotic drugs are rarely taken by itself; rather, most bipolar disorder drug treatment strategies combine antipsychotic medication with lithium or Valproate for better effect.

Medical knowledge on bipolar disorder drug treatment continues to grow but despite these developments, the complexity of the illness continues to require very specific and target treatment options for each case. For this, doctors should look at every case seriously and constantly work with patients to get the right medication and dosage. The process will take time but when done correctly, it can slowly but surely eliminate the symptoms of bipolar disorder, freeing patients to resume their typical routines and live normal lives unimpeded by their mood disorder.