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Bipolar Disorder Health Center

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Medications for Bipolar Disorder

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Medication Tips for Bipolar Disorder

If you have bipolar disorder, adopt good habits for taking your medication. Take it at the same time every day. It's easiest if you do it along with some other activity, like brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, or getting into bed. Getting a weekly pillbox can make it easy to see if you've missed a dose.

Be sure to talk to your pharmacist or doctor about the best time of day to take your bipolar medications. Some are best taken in the morning or at bedtime and others with meals or after meals.

For those rare occasions when you miss a dose, know what you should do. Ask your health care provider. Don't assume that doubling up is a good idea.

Side Effects of Bipolar Drugs

The medications available to treat bipolar disorder aren't perfect. They can cause side effects that vary depending on which medications you use. These side effects can include:

Some medications can affect your liver function or white blood cell or platelet counts (which can lead to increased susceptibility to infection or bleeding). You may need regular tests to make sure that you're staying healthy. Also, Geodon is linked to a rare, but potentially fatal skin reaction.

Many side effects will fade after a few weeks of treatment. If you're still having unpleasant problems after that, see your health care provider. Don't assume you're just stuck with unwanted symptoms. Changing your dosage, adding another medicine to control the side effects, or trying a different medication altogether may help.

Sticking to Your Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Medications for bipolar disorder are powerful drugs, and you must take them exactly as your doctor recommends. Don't stop taking a drug without your doctor's approval. It can be dangerous.

When you're feeling good, you might want to stop taking your medication. But that's a bad idea -- unless your doctor agrees. Getting treatment only during mood episodes may not be enough to prevent symptoms from coming back. In most people, maintenance treatment between mood episodes substantially reduces the severity and frequency of mania and depression. If you're feeling good now, that's likely because your medication is working. So why stop?

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on April 10, 2015
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