Bipolar Medication Guide: Medications and Drugs for Bipolar Disorder

Tips for getting the most out of bipolar medication

Add therapy to your treatment plan: Research shows that people who take bipolar medication tend to recover much faster and control their moods better if they also get therapy.

Avoid antidepressants: The treatment for bipolar depression is different than for regular depression. In fact, antidepressants can actually make bipolar disorder worse or trigger a manic episode.

Take advantage of natural mood stabilizers: Your lifestyle has an impact on your symptoms. If you make healthy daily choices, you may be able to reduce the amount of bipolar medication you need.

Continue taking medication, even after you feel better: The likelihood of having a relapse is very high if you stop taking your bipolar medication. Suddenly stopping medication is especially dangerous.

Finding the right bipolar disorder medication

It can take a while to find the right bipolar medication and dose. Everyone responds to medication differently, so you may have to try several bipolar disorder drugs before you find the one that works for you. Be patient, but don’t settle for a bipolar medication that makes you feel lousy, either.

Taking medication for bipolar disorder responsibly

All prescription drugs come with risks, but if you take your bipolar disorder medications responsibly and combine them with therapy and healthy lifestyle choices, you can minimize the risks and maximize your chances of treatment success.

Take your bipolar medication as prescribed

You may be tempted to stop taking your bipolar disorder medication if you’re experiencing side effects. Or conversely, you may want to stop taking your pills because you feel great and don’t think you need them anymore. However, stopping maintenance medication comes with a high risk of relapse. Stopping cold turkey is even more risky.

Antipsychotic medications for bipolar disorder

Antipsychotic medications used for bipolar disorder include:

Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
Quetiapine (Seroquel)
Risperidone (Risperdal)
Ariprazole (Abilify)
Ziprasidone (Geodon)
Stomach pain
Thyroid problems
Memory and concentration problems
Nausea, vertigo
DiarrheaClozapine (Clozaril)
Keep track of side effects

Track any side effects you experience.

Using a log, keep a record of your symptoms, when they occur, and how bad they are. Bring the worksheet to your doctor. He or she may have suggestions for minimizing the side effects. If side effects are severe, your doctor may switch you to another drug or change your bipolar medication dose.

Be aware of potential drug interactions

You should always check for drug interactions before taking another prescription medication, over-the-counter drug, or herbal supplement. Drug interactions can cause unexpected side effects or make your bipolar disorder medication less effective or even dangerous. Mixing certain foods and beverages with your bipolar medication can also cause problems.