The National Association of Mental Illness reports that bipolar disorder can be successfully treated following an accurate diagnosis. While there is no cure for bipolar disorder, finding the correct medication regime is an essential part of treatment. The quantity and severity of bipolar episodes can be regulated via a medication maintenance program; however, the appearance of sporadic episodes of mania or depression require additional treatment, which can include medication adjustments and management.
Bipolar Medications Require Discovery Time for Optimal Dosage
Bipolar disorder is a complex illness that often requires patience by the patient. Determining the right bipolar medication(s) typically revolves around your psychiatrist making critical adjustments over time to achieve the desired effect. Mayo Clinic reports show some bipolar medications may take weeks to even months to take full effect; changes are often made one medication at a time to properly evaluate which one will not only work to relieve your symptoms, but which also has the least troubling side effects.
Common Medications for Bipolar Disorder
There are three main types of medications that are used to treat bipolar disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health defines these psychiatric medications as including mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and atypical antipsychotics. Examples of these three types of bipolar medications are:
- Mood Stabilizers include the use of Lithium (Lithobid), and anticonvulsants such as valproic acid (Depakene, Stavzor), divalproex (Depakote), or lamotrigine (Lamictal). Lithium requires periodic blood tests. Common side effects include dry mouth, digestive issues, restlessness, weight gain, drowsiness, or dizziness. Medication may require periodic blood tests to determine medication blood levels and physiological effects on internal organs.
- Antidepressants may be used by your psychiatrist depending on your symptoms. Some of these drugs include MAO inhibitors, tricyclics, or Symbyax. Common side effects with antidepressants include reduced sexual desire and response, weight gain, drowsiness, or increased appetite. Some of these bipolar medications require careful monitoring for potentially dangerous side effects.
- Antipsychotics include aripiprazole (Abilify), olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal), and quetiapine (Seroquel). Side effects may include weight gain, sleepiness, tremors, blurred vision and rapid heartbeat. Use of antipsychotics for bipolar disorder may also affect memory, attention, focus, as well as the possibility of causing involuntary facial or body movements.
Your bipolar disorder psychiatrist will determine which medications fit with your symptoms and lifestyle following a comprehensive evaluation. Adjustments and changes will be made over time to provide you with an optimal psychopharmacology regime that meets your unique needs. An experienced psychiatrist may also prescribe other medications such as anti-anxiety medications on a short term basis to address anxiety and poor sleeping patterns.
Atlanta Bipolar Disorder Psychiatrist
Dr. Hege, your bipolar disorder psychiatrist, can help turn your life around without years of suffering through misdiagnosis. Contact us today to request a consultation.