The Right Medication for Bipolar Disorder

Medications play an important role in the treatment of bipolar disorder. There are a lot of different medications in the market and you may have heard of names like Seroquel, Abilify or Zyprexa. They cannot be stopped once the disease is under control and also you need to be aware of their side effects. Bear in mind that bipolar disorder can last a lifetime and therefore the treatment also needs to continued. Here is some background information about medications for bipolar disorder.

picture of tablets and pills

Mood Swings and Visiting a Psychiatrist


Mood swings usually are more noticeable in women than in men, because women are more unpredictable. Guys also go through mood swings, but they are normally less noticeable. We all have mood swings from time to time and this is normal and acceptable and no reason for concern. However, drastic mood swings or emotional changes are something different. If you experience such phases then it is probably time to check with a doctor regarding this situation.

There is generally a negative association when people hear ‘I am going to a psychiatrist’. The assumption is that only people with psychological issues seek the advice of these doctors. But regardless of the public perception going to a psychiatrist is a great thing to do when you have to deal with mood problems.

By consulting a psychiatrist your problem can be assessed and the extent of the problem can be determined. This will allow to find the right treatment and sticking to this treatment will stabilize the condition.

In case you are diagnosed with bipolar disorder then it is a problem that will stay with you for some time. You have to learn how to cope with the depressive and manic episodes. Yet you do not need to worry, because this condition can be managed and controlled although not completely cured. With the use of the right medications you can still live a regular life.

Bipolar disorder usually has its beginnings during the adolescence and the early 20’s. This condition is rather quite complex; therefore the eventual identification and diagnosis can be delayed for several years. This means a big disadvantage for bipolar patients, because it can take several years before the problem is addressed with the appropriate treatment.


Treatment of Bipolar Disorder


Psychiatrists or psychologists diagnose and deal with bipolar disorder. The treatment will often begin with an interview and the taking of a medical inventory to evaluate the psychological status and medical background of the bipolar patient. These are the scientific procedures that are undertaken:
Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCMI III)
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI II)
- Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS)

These tests can be completed in writing or verbally in hospitals or outpatient settings. Psychological sicknesses and bipolar disorder are identified according to the guidelines of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). As per this guideline bipolar is an unusually elevated or irritable mood that lasts for a few weeks together with 3 mania symptoms. 4 signs will probably be required in case the individual is irritable.

The symptoms in adolescents and kids are different. Kids exhibit psychotic behaviors which are often incorrectly diagnosed as schizophrenia. They are usually more irritable and aggressive rather than elated. In addition, the symptoms are also ongoing and chronic compared to adults who experience them in episodes.

Bipolar disorder is often treated with medications which are aimed to control the bipolar episodes. Mood stabilizers are used in combination with antipsychotics, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants.


Medications for Bipolar Disorder


Lithium is the oldest and most frequently prescribed drug for bipolar disorder; however, it is not that useful for individuals with mixed mania. Lithium is sometimes used together with neuroleptics or benzodiazepines.

Carbamazepine is an anticonvulsant that is prescribed together with mood stabilizers. If patients do not positively respond to Lithium remedy then this medication may be used.

Valproate is a very effective drug for patients with rapid cycling bipolar. It can be used alone or in combination with other drugs.

Antidepressants are only used for brief periods, because they can stimulate mania episodes in some patients.

SSRIs are used to control depression and these drugs contain sertraline, fluoxetine, and paroxetine.

The purpose of MAOIs is to block the monoamine oxidase action. In order to avoid negative side effects with these medications they should not be taken together with foods that are rich in tyramine.

Examples of Neuroleptics are chlorpromazine and haloperidol which are used to control manic symptoms. These must be taken with caution as their side effects are more severe than with other drugs.

Electroconvulsive therapy is a very successful method to treat bipolar disorder, but it is only used once the pharmaceutical options have been exhausted without success. This therapy is given under anesthesia and with muscle relaxants to avoid convulsions.

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