Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens - Medications
Medicines for bipolar disorder in adults have been well studied. But more
research is being done on how well the medicines work and if they are safe
for children and teens.
When you and your child's
doctor are deciding which types of medicines to use, think about:
- The side effects of each medicine and how
well your child can tolerate them.
- How often your child will need
to take the medicines.
- Whether your child is being treated for
other illnesses or disorders and how those medicines will interact with
medicines for bipolar disorder.
- Whether your child has used any of
the medicines before and whether they worked.
Before prescribing medicine to treat bipolar disorder, your
doctor will ask questions about possible suicidal behavior.
Be sure to use all medicines exactly as your child's
doctor has prescribed them. If your child has intolerable side effects from any
medicine, call your doctor immediately.
Medicines most often used to treat bipolar disorder in
children and teens include:
antidepressants can be helpful for some children with bipolar disorder, they
can also trigger
mania. Doctors usually prescribe antidepressants along
with mood stabilizers or antipsychotics to help prevent a manic episode. And
the doctor needs to carefully monitor the child for mood changes. Antipsychotics can be used
alone, or they may be combined with mood stabilizers for more effective control
of manic episodes.
Medicines for bipolar disorder have side effects that need
to be managed. Some things you cannot change, such as increased urination
(common with lithium). But you can deal with some side effects like weight gain
(common with several medicines used to treat bipolar disorder) by increasing
exercise and reducing calorie intake.
You can work with your child and his or
her doctor to find ways of coping with side effects. If side effects from a
medicine are intolerable, the doctor may have to change the dose or the
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory on antidepressant medicines and the risk of suicide. Talk to your doctor about possible side effects and the warning signs of suicide.