bipolar medicine

Bipolar medicine is used to treat extreme shifts in mood from extreme good mood (high or mania) to manic-depression. This bipolar disorder causes deep depression, lack of energy, low self esteem, guilt, changes in eating and sleeping patterns and even the possibility of suicide.

Treatments vary from electric shock, psychotherapy and drugs.

Electroconvulsive Therapy. When medications don't work, this treatment sends electric currents to the brain to start a seizure and has been shown to work for certain cases. Side effects are memory loss, confusion and other physical complications. This therapy began in the 1930s and there is a general belief that how this treatment is applied today (2004) is an improvement from its early days.

Psychotherapy is another option.

A more pervasive treatment is medicine. Consult your doctor regarding these drugs and their side effects.

The following is a list of drugs used to treat bipolar disorders:

Lithium - It is not used for "emergency purposes" only but also for making sure the patient stays "maintained" and does not swing from mania to depression and vice versa. This mood stabilizer can be used with other antidepressants when the patient is in a depressed stage. For patients who don't get cured, this drug can be used for as long as needed. However, because every patient responds differently to this drug, such as some who don't seem to be affected by this drug, consider other treatment options. Your doctor should take blood tests to make sure lithium is working properly.

Anticonvulsants - This type of medicine is usually used for seizures and has become the other option if lithium is not working or if a patient decides not to use lithium. These medicines work, but as always, there will be side effects, depending on the patient.

In this class of drugs, as of now, valproic acid is the only drug that insurance companies may pay for because the other types have not been given FDA approval. Call your insurance company for more information on what they will pay for.

  • Types of Anticonvulsants:
  1. anticonvulsant valproic acid - Depakote, divalproex sodium
  2. carbamazepine (Tegretol), lamotrigine (Lamictal), gabapentin (Neurontin), and topiramate (Topamax).

Antidepressants - Used for patients experiencing "long-term" depression that may last up to two weeks. Sometimes this kind of depression coincides with other diseases such as cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. Side effects and benefits depend on the patient's age, weight, overall health, etc.

  • tricyclic antidepressants - first antidepressants used.
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) - With these drugs patients must follow strict diets.
  1. phenelzine (Nardil)
  2. tranylcypromine (Parnate)
  3. isocarboxazid (Marplan)
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  1. fluoxetine (Prozac)
  2. sertraline (Zoloft)
  3. fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  4. paroxetine (Paxil)
  5. citalopram (Celexa)
  • Medicines from the 1990s:
  1. venlafaxine (Effexor)
  2. nefazadone (Serzone)

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