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Medications for Bipolar Disorder

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What other medications help stabilize moods with bipolar disorder?

Antipsychotic medications are used alone or in combination with other mood stabilizers in patients with bipolar mania. Acute mania may be treated with older antipsychotic medications such as Haldol (haloperidol), Adasuve or Loxitane (loxapine), and Risperdal (risperidone). Many newer atypical antipsychotics are also used for bipolar disorder. These drugs include Abilify (aripiprazole), Geodon (ziprasidone), Saphris (asenapine), Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate), and Zyprexa (olanzapine). Symbyax, the SSRI antidepressant (fluoxetine) combined with the antipsychotic olanzapine, also has been shown to treat bipolar depression, as has Seroquel. In addition, Latuda (lurasidone) is an antipsychotic FDA-approved to treat bipolar depression either alone or with lithium or Depakote (valproic acid).  

Sometimes benzodiazepines are prescribed to help patients with acute mania and also to relieve insomnia. These drugs belong to a group of medications called central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which act on neurotransmitters to slow down normal brain function. CNS depressants are commonly used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders and are sometimes prescribed as adjunctive therapy with bipolar disorder.

Commonly used benzodiazepines include Klonopin (clonazepam), Ativan (lorazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), and Valium (diazepam). These drugs all carry the risk of being habit-forming/addictive medications.

Some of the newer sleep medications such as Lunesta (eszopiclone) and Sonata (zaleplon) may cause fewer problems with memory and thinking as compared to benzodiazepines and may be prone to become habit-forming.


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