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July 3, 2005

Review of Meds Available for Bipolar Disorder

There are so many medications available to treat bipolar disorder that sometimes the idea of choosing your form of treatment can be daunting. Not only are there several medications, but each medication is under a different class. There are antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, SSRI's, benzodiazepines, and much more. This article is meant to be a quick review of the many kinds of medications available. The nice thing about it is that it is quick and easy to review. It does not go over side effects very extensively so make sure you research the medication and its "class" before determining that it is right for you. If you would like to see a more thorough list of the medications available for bipolar disorder go to:

Approved by the FDA in 1970, Lithium has traditionally been the first line of treatment for mania.

Anticonvulsants in the treatment of mania was introduced when their therapeutic value was noted through improved mood stability of those with epilepsy. Initially they were used for those who were resistant to Lithium treatment. They are now an important alternative both as a monotherapy and as an adjunctive to other medications. Following are the primary anticonvulsants used for bipolar disorder.

Calcium Channel Blockers
This class of drugs (of which Verapamil, Diltiazem, Nifedipine and Nimodipine are examples) is only used to a very minor degree in managing the symptoms of mania associated with bipolar disorder. Their efficacy is limited.

Acute episodes of mania present psychosis in as many as two-thirds of those with this disorder. Thus, this class of meds is used to a great extent. They are also often used to decrease symptoms of mania until mood stabilizers such as those listed above can take full effect. In some cases, these may be used for long-term maintenance of stability.

The Benzodiazepines are central nervous system (CNS) depressants. They are used to produce sedation, induce sleep, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms, and to prevent seizures. For bipolar disorder, they are used to gain rapid control of manic symptoms so that mood stabilizers have time to take effect. They may also be used to help restore a normal sleep schedule. The most common medications in this class include alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), lorzepam (Ativan), and Clonazepam (Klonopin).

This article goes over some of the individual medications and it can be found at:

The source of this article was the MedBlog which can be found at:


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