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Medications for Bipolar Disorder

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Which medications are used to stabilize moods? continued...

Lithium is one of the oldest and least expensive mood-stabilizing mediations for bipolar disorder. Lithium is administered as a salt available under the generic names of lithium carbonate and lithium citrate. Available in capsule, tablet, or liquid form, lithium may have the trade name of Lithobid, Lithane, Lithonate, Lithotabs, Cibalith-S, and others.

Findings show that lithium is effective in reducing symptoms and frequency of episodes with a response rate of 70% to 80% for the initial manic phase of bipolar disorder. In addition, studies show that lithium effectively reduces the risk of suicide at least six fold.

If you take lithium, you will need regular blood tests and monitoring of your kidney and thyroid function for drug toxicity levels.


Are anticonvulsants used to stabilize the moods of bipolar disorder?

Some, but not all, anticonvulsants offer more treatment options for those with bipolar disorder. Anticonvulsants may be combined with lithium or with other anticonvulsants for optimal effect.

Some commonly used anticonvulsants include Lamictal (lamotrigine), Depakote (valproic acid), and Tegretol (carbamazepine). Other anticonvulsants, such as Trileptal (oxcarbazepine), Neurontin (gabapentin) and Topamax (topiramate) have not been established as having anti-manic or antidepressant properties. But they are sometimes considered experimental treatments in bipolar disorder. Certain of these medicines may have value for other types of psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, pain, or binge eating. 


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