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Bipolar Disorder Health Center

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Bipolar Disorder Medication, Herbs, and Supplements

For someone with bipolar disorder, finding the most effective bipolar medications is key for treating and preventing episodes of mania or depression. Of course, it's important to take them as prescribed. And it's also important to be aware of what else you are taking when you do. Taking bipolar medications with over-the-counter herbs and natural supplements may be dangerous. Some herbs and supplements can cause dangerous interactions with medications or make bipolar drugs less effective. In addition, these natural therapies may also sometimes cause more serious health problems.

What Are Some Common Bipolar Drugs

The drug lithium has been used for decades to treat bipolar disorder, also called manic depression. Several anticonvulsants are also prescribed for bipolar disorder. They include

Newer, atypical antipsychotic drugs used to treat bipolar disorder include:

These drugs are generally given during the agitated state of mania or depression, and some are also used specifically to treat bipolar depression (for example, Seroquel, Latuda, Symbyax) or to help prevent relapses during long-term use (e.g., Zyprexa, Geodon, Abilify, and Seroquel ).

In addition, the doctor may prescribe an antidepressant, an anti-anxiety medication, or a sleep medication if mood stabilizers alone are not adequate for managing mood symptoms.

Is It Safe to Take Herbs and Supplements With Bipolar Medication?

Even though herbs and natural dietary supplements are sold over the counter, they are not necessarily 100% safe. For instance, some over-the-counter weight loss supplements contain ephedra. They have been known to produce symptoms consistent with mania. Those symptoms include extreme elation with reduced need for sleep. Other supplements that can potentially cause mania include DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), SAMe (s-adenosylmethionine), St. John’s Wort, and rhodiola rosea.

Herbs and natural dietary supplements have not been tested or regulated by the FDA. So it's important to use caution when taking them. Most credible manufacturers list contraindications or warnings on the product label. But some manufacturers do not. When the wrong herb or supplement is taken with bipolar medications, there can be dangerous drug-herb interactions. The result of these interactions can include:

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