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Bipolar Disorder Health Center

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Bipolar Disorder - Medications

Medicines, when taken as prescribed, can help control bipolar mood swings. Your doctor will vary the amounts and combinations of your medicines according to your symptoms, which type of bipolar disorder you have, and how you respond to the medicines.

About 1 out of 3 people will be completely free of symptoms of bipolar disorder by taking mood stabilizer medicine, such as carbamazepine or lithium, for life.5

Recommended Related to Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Romantic Relationships: Dating and Marriage

Navigating any romantic relationship -- whether it's dating or marriage -- can be a tricky endeavor. Add bipolar disorder with its roller-coaster ride of emotions into the mix, and relationships become even more challenging. When Jim McNulty, 58, of Burrillville, Rhode Island, got married in the 1970s, everything seemed fine at first. "It was an absolutely normal courtship," he recalls. "We got along well." Then the mood swings began. During his "up" or hypomanic states, he would spend huge sums...

Read the Bipolar Romantic Relationships: Dating and Marriage article > >

Taking medicines during pregnancy for bipolar disorder may increase the risk of birth defects. If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, talk to your doctor. You may need to keep taking medicine if your bipolar disorder is severe. Your doctor can help weigh the risks of treatment against the risk of harm to your pregnancy.

Medicine choices

Several medicines are used to treat bipolar disorder. It may take time to find the treatment that works best for you. The most common medicines used are:

Medicines and your lifestyle

When you and your doctor are discussing your medicines, think about whether your lifestyle allows you to take medicines on time every day. A medicine you only take once a day may work best for you if you have a hard time remembering to take your medicines.

During your doctor's appointment, ask about:

  • The side effects of each medicine.
  • How often you will need to take the medicines.
  • How the medicines may interact with other medicines you are taking.
  • Whether it's important to take the medicines at the same time every day.
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