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Feeling Loved reframes the meaning and purpose of love and offers a realistic plan for getting the kind of love we need. If someone close to you has bipolar disorder, your love and support can make a difference in treatment and recovery. If you have bipolar disorder, medication will likely be the foundation of your treatment plan. Once you've discovered the right bipolar disorder drug or drug cocktail, it may still take time to determine the optimal dose.
When starting a new medication for bipolar disorder, educate yourself about how to take it safely.
Generic drugs have the same use, dosage, side effects, risks, safety profile, and potency as the original brand-name drug. Occasionally, brand-name drugs have different coatings or color dyes to change their appearance.
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.
You may be tempted to stop taking your bipolar disorder medication if you're experiencing side effects. You should always check for drug interactions before taking another prescription medication, over-the-counter drug, or herbal supplement. Talk to your doctor about special precautions for the bipolar medication or medications you’re taking.
Although antidepressants have traditionally been used to treat episodes of bipolar depression, their use is becoming more and more controversial. The new focus in bipolar depression treatment is on optimizing the dose of mood stabilizers. If you lose touch with reality during a manic or depressive episode, an antipsychotic drug may be prescribed. Sexual and erectile dysfunction is a common side effect of antipsychotic medications, one that often deters bipolar disorder patients from continuing medication. Bipolar medication is most effective when used in combination with other bipolar disorder treatments, including therapy, self-help coping strategies, natural mood stabilizers, and healthy lifestyle choices. Exercise is also a safe and effective way to release the pent-up energy associated with the manic episodes of bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disorder Help Center: Learn what you need to know to recognize the problem, manage symptoms, balance your mood, and lead a full and meaningful life. Bipolar Disorder – This overview of bipolar disorder includes detailed information toward the end of the article on medications used to treat bipolar disorder.
Medication for Bipolar Disorder – In-depth look at bipolar disorder drugs, including the different types, special considerations and precautions, and questions to ask your doctor.
Mood Stabilizers – Introduction to the mood stabilizers for manic depression and how to choose the right one.
Bipolar Meds – Lithium and Mood Stabilizers – Describes mood stabilizers and their use in bipolar disorder. Wrestling with Bipolar Disorder - Covers the negative effects of antidepressant medication on the course of bipolar disorder, and new drug options for the depressive phase.
Antipsychotics and Bipolar Disorder – Guide to the use of antipsychotic medication in the treatment of bipolar disorder. Bipolar Meds - The Antipsychotics – Covers the history of antipsychotic medications and their use in treating mania and depression.
Management of Bipolar Disorder – Discusses the signs of bipolar disorder, co-occurring conditions, medication treatment recommendations, and drug interactions to watch for. Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder (STEP-BD) – Details the long-term outpatient study designed to find out which treatments, or combinations of treatments, are most effective for treating bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disorder, Light, and Darkness: Treatment Implications – Learn how light affects the brain and what this can mean for bipolar disorder symptoms and treatment.
Being connected to friends, family and social groups may offer some protection against suicide, suggests a new U.S. A growing number of teens and young adults are being prescribed antipsychotics, a new study suggests. Distinguishing between regular depression and bipolar disorder is one of the toughest calls psychiatrists face. Pop superstar Demi Lovato has been very vocal about her struggles with bipolar disorder and substance abuse issues. When it comes to understanding bipolar disorder, many questions remain unanswered – such as what truly causes the condition and why finding proper treatments is so difficult. But now, researchers have taken a huge step towards solving some of the disorder’s complex mysteries. Detailed in the journal Translational Psychiatry, this study marks the first time researchers have derived a stem cell line specific to bipolar disorder. Also known as manic-depressive illness, bipolar disorder is a brain condition characterized by intense shifts in mood – alternating between periods of high energy and mania to periods of severe anxiety and depression. Additionally, the most common form of treatment for the disorder, lithium, is also somewhat of a mystery.
In order to better understand what is happening in the bipolar mind, McInnis and his team took small samples of skin from individuals who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This process has also been used to better understand other complex brain disorders, such as schizophrenia and conditions that cause seizures. The researchers first examined gene expression in the stem cells, noticing very specific differences in the bipolar cells as they developed into neurons.
Additionally, the nerve stem cells from bipolar patients had significantly different signaling patterns than the stem cells derived from people without the condition.

Meanwhile, the bipolar neurons also reacted differently than the non-bipolar neurons when exposed to lithium.
Given the wealth of their findings, McInnis said this stem cell technique could fundamentally alter how bipolar disorder is understood and handled.
You can help by learning about the illness, offering hope and encouragement, keeping track of symptoms, and being a partner in treatment. Research shows that people who take medication for bipolar disorder tend to recover much faster and control their moods better if they also get therapy. The likelihood of having a relapse is very high if you stop taking your bipolar medication. Everyone responds to medication differently, so you may have to try several bipolar disorder drugs before you find the one that works for you. As you recover, you will see your doctor less often; once you are well, you might see your doctor for a quick review every few months. The main reason why generic drugs are cheaper than brand-name drugs is that the generic drug manufacturer does not need to recoup huge expenses for developing and marketing a drug.
In rare cases, these extra ingredients will make the generic form of the drug less tolerable, so if your condition worsens after switching from a brand-name to a generic drug, consult your doctor.
If you don't like the way the drug makes you feel or if it's not working, there may be other options you can try.
Drug interactions can cause unexpected side effects or make your bipolar disorder medication less effective or even dangerous. You can also learn about potential interactions by reading drug labels or talking to your pharmacist. However, it is not as effective for mixed episodes or rapid cycling forms of bipolar disorder. Always tell any doctor or pharmacist that you are taking lithium before you are prescribed, or buy, any new medicines.
Originally developed for the treatment of epilepsy, they have been shown to relieve the symptoms of mania and reduce mood swings.
Mounting evidence suggests that antidepressants aren’t effective in the treatment of bipolar depression. Many experts believe that over time, antidepressant use in people with bipolar disorder has a mood destabilizing effect, increasing the frequency of manic and depressive episodes. However, a recent study has shown that the medication Sildenafil citrate (Viagra) is both safe and effective in the treatment of antipsychotic-induced erectile dysfunction in men. While you’re waiting for the medication to kick in, your doctor may prescribe a benzodiazepine to relieve any symptoms of anxiety, agitation, or insomnia.
People who take medication for bipolar disorder tend to recover much faster and control their moods much better if they also get therapy. Getting regular exercise can reduce bipolar disorder symptoms and help stabilize mood swings. Studies have found that insufficient sleep can precipitate manic episodes in bipolar patients. Living with bipolar disorder can be challenging, and having a solid support system in place can make all the difference in your outlook and motivation. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. Prechter Bipolar Researcher Fund transformed skin cells from people with bipolar disorder into neurons that mimicked those found in their brains.
Specifically, the bipolar stem cells expressed more genes for membrane receptors and ion channels compared to the non-bipolar stem cells. But caring for a person with bipolar disorder will take a toll if you neglect your own needs, so it’s important to find a balance between supporting your loved one and taking care of yourself. You may not like the idea of taking bipolar medication long term, especially if you’re struggling with unpleasant side effects. Medication is most effective when used in combination with other bipolar disorder treatments, including therapy, self-help coping strategies, and healthy lifestyle choices. In fact, antidepressants can actually make bipolar disorder worse or trigger a manic episode. Therapy gives you the tools to cope with life's difficulties, monitor your progress, and deal with the problems bipolar disorder is causing in your personal and professional life. Be patient, but don’t settle for a bipolar medication that makes you feel lousy, either.
Once the patent for the original drug has expired, other manufacturers can produce the same drug with the same ingredients at a markedly lower cost. In most cases, however, generic drugs are just as safe and effective as brand-name drugs, and a lot easier on your wallet. And if you decide that medication is not for you, your doctor can help you taper off the drugs safely.
Valproic acid is often the first choice for rapid cycling, mixed mania, or mania with hallucinations or delusions. A major study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health showed that adding an antidepressant to a mood stabilizer was no more effective in treating bipolar depression than using a mood stabilizer alone.
However, they may be an option for people who can’t tolerate lithium or anticonvulsants.
Weight gain is a common side effect of many bipolar medications, so it’s important to adopt healthy eating habits to manage your weight.
Participating in a bipolar disorder support group can give you the opportunity to share your experiences and learn from others. This site is for information only and NOT a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

This reprint is for information only and NOT a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. This suggests that genetic differences expressed during early brain development may contribute to the onset of bipolar symptoms. But just as a diabetic needs to take insulin in order to stay healthy, taking medication for bipolar disorder will help you maintain a stable mood. Frequent office visits to re-evaluate your bipolar medication needs and careful monitoring of symptoms and side effects will help you stay safe.
It is a good bipolar medication option if you can’t tolerate the side effects of lithium.
It is also important to regulate darkness and light exposure as these throw off sleep-wake cycles and upset the sensitive biological clock in people with bipolar disorder. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and drugs as they can adversely interact with bipolar medications.
Helpguide.org is an ad-free non-profit resource for supporting better mental health and lifestyle choices for adults and children. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If side effects are severe, your doctor may switch you to another drug or change your bipolar medication dose. While research is still ongoing, thyroid medication also shows promise as a treatment for bipolar depression with minimal side effects.
Depressive Phase SymptomsWithout treatment, a person with bipolar disorder may experience intense episodes of depression.
This can result in inflated self-esteem, agitation, reduced need for sleep, being more talkative, being easily distracted, and a sense of racing thoughts. Having three or more of these symptoms nearly every day for a week may indicate a manic episode. Bipolar IIPeople with bipolar I disorder have manic episodes or mixed episodes and often have one or more depressive episodes. People with bipolar II have major depressive episodes with less severe mania; they experience hypomania, a condition that is less intense than mania or lasting less than a week.
It's more common in people who develop bipolar disorder at a young age, particularly during adolescence. People are at higher risk if a family member has been diagnosed, especially if it's a first degree relative, but doctors don't think the disorder kicks in based on genetics alone.
A stressful event, drug abuse, or other unknown factor may trigger the cycle of ups and downs. Bipolar Disorder and Daily LifeBipolar disorder can disrupt your goals at work and at home. Bipolar Disorder and Substance AbuseAbout 60% of people with bipolar disorder have trouble with drugs or alcohol.
Patients may drink or abuse drugs to relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of their mood swings. Bipolar Disorder and SuicidePeople with bipolar disorder are 10 to 20 times more likely to commit suicide than people without the illness. Diagnosing Bipolar DisorderA crucial step in diagnosing bipolar disorder is to rule out other possible causes of extreme mood swings.
These may include brain infection or other neurological disorders, substance abuse, thyroid problem, HIV, ADHD, side effects of certain medications, or other psychiatric disorders. Medications for Bipolar DisorderMedications are key in helping people with bipolar disorder live stable, productive lives.
Talk Therapy for Bipolar DisorderTalk therapy can help patients stay on medication and cope with their disorder's impact on work and family life. Interpersonal therapy aims to ease the strain bipolar disorder may place on personal relationships. Lifestyle Tips for Bipolar DisorderEstablishing firm routines can help manage bipolar disorder.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)Electroconvulsive therapy can help some people with bipolar disorder. Educating Friends and FamilyFriends and family may not understand bipolar disorder at first. Having a solid support system can help people with bipolar disorder feel less isolated and more motivated to manage their condition. When Someone Needs HelpMany people with bipolar disorder don't realize they have a problem or avoid getting help. If you're concerned about a friend or family member, here are a few tips for broaching the subject.
Point out that millions of Americans have bipolar disorder, and that it is a treatable illness -- not a personality flaw. There is a medical explanation for the extreme mood swings, and effective treatments are available.

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