Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Bipolar Disorder Health Center

Select An Article

Treatments for Mania in Bipolar Disorder

Font Size

Antipsychotic Drugs for Bipolar Disorder

Antipsychotic drugs originally were used as a short-term treatment to control agitation or psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions. These symptoms may occur during acute mania or severe depression. Today, they are increasingly being used for acute symptoms other than psychosis (such as agitation or insomnia), as companions to mood stabilizers to bring about faster improvements, and as relapse prevention drugs. Some (but not all) antipsychotic drugs also are used as antidepressants for bipolar depression.

Some of the newer antipsychotics seem to help stabilize moods on their own. As a result, they may be used alone as long-term treatment for people who don't tolerate or respond to lithium and anticonvulsants.

What It Is: Antipsychotic drugs help modulate certain chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. It is not clear exactly how these drugs work, but they usually improve manic episodes quickly.

What to Expect: The newer antipsychotics usually act quickly and can help you avoid the reckless and impulsive behaviors associated with mania. More normal thinking often is restored within a week, but the full effects of an antipsychotic medication make take several weeks to determine.

Antipsychotics used to treat bipolar disorder include:

Risks and Side Effects: Certain antipsychotics cause rapid weight gain and high cholesterol levels, and they may increase the risk of high blood sugar levels or eventual diabetes. People considering an antipsychotic for bipolar disorder should first be screened for their risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, according to a study published in the journal Diabetes Care.

Common side effects of antipsychotic drugs include:

Also, Geodon has been linked to a rare but potentially fatal skin reaction.

Older, conventional antipsychotics are generally not used to treat bipolar disorder. However, they may be helpful if a person has troublesome side effects or doesn't respond to the newer drugs. Older antipsychotics include Thorazine (chlorpromazine), Haldol (haloperidol), Loxitane (loxapine), and Trilafon (perphenazine). These drugs may cause serious long-term side effects called tardive dyskinesia, a movement disorder.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

lunar eclipse
Signs of mania and depression.
Pills on blank prescription paper
Learn about this popular bipolar disorder medication.
serious looking young woman
Assess your symptoms.
teen girl in bad mood
How is each one different?
Feeling Ups and Downs
Bipolar or Schizo
Foods to Avoid
Man being scolded by his shadow
lunar eclipse
depressed man
young women not speaking
man talking with therapist