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Benzodiazepines for Bipolar Disorder

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Benzodiazepines rapidly help control certain manic symptoms -- such as restlessness, agitation, or insomnia -- in bipolar disorder until mood-stabilizing drugs can take effect. They are usually taken for a brief time, up to two weeks or so, with other mood-stabilizing drugs. 

Benzodiazepines slow the activity of the brain. In doing so, they can help treat mania, anxiety, panic disorder, and seizures.

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Benzodiazepines prescribed for bipolar disorder include (among others):

 

Benzodiazepine Side Effects

Benzodiazepines act quickly and bring on a sense of calmness. They can sometimes cause lightheadedness, slurred speech, or unsteadiness.

Possible benzodiazepine side effects include:

  • Drowsiness or dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory loss
  • Muscle weakness

Benzodiazepines can be habit-forming and addictive. It is also dangerous to combine them with alcohol or certain other medications. 

If you have been taking the benzodiazepines in high doses or for a long time, you may suffer withdrawal symptoms if you stop the drug suddenly. Talk with your doctor about whether you still need the medication and, if not, how to taper off the drug.

 

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on July 08, 2014

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