While depression episodes are far more common than manias and have a tremendous effect on the lives of patients, there are only a few established treatments for bipolar depression.
What’s the standard treatment for bipolar depression?
Lithium and the anticonvulsants lamotrigine and valproate are mood stabilizers that are sometimes used “off label” as treatments for bipolardepression, although none of these has been established as an FDA-approved first-line treatment for bipolar depression. For many years, psychiatrists have traditionally added an antidepressant to a mood stabilizer if a mood stabilizer alone is ineffective; however, research shows that antidepressants are often not effective for bipolar depression.
A mood-stabilizing medication works on improving social interactions, mood, and behavior and is recommended for both treatment and prevention of this disorder mood states that swing from the lows of depression to the highs of hypomania or mania. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), lithium, lamotrigine, valproate,carbamazepine, and most atypical antipsychotic medications are approved by the FDA for treating one (or more) phases of this disorder.
In some patients with this disorder, a mood stabilizer may be all that’s needed to modulate the depressed mood. However, in this disorder. patients who do not respond to one mood stabilizer, another mood stabilizer or an atypical antipsychotic is sometimes added to the treatment regimen.
Are antidepressants used to treat bipolar depression?
While antidepressants are effective treatment for people with major depressive (unipolar) disorder, antidepressants they are not always as effective for bipolar depression, and generally should not be given alone (monotherapy) in people with this I disorder. When antidepressants are given alone to someone with bipolar disorder, there’s a risk the drug might ignite a manic episode in some patients. Knowing this, most doctors may avoid using antidepressants as monotherapy for bipolar depression.