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Bipolar Disorder Health Center

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Tricyclic Antidepressants for Bipolar Disorder

Older tricyclic antidepressants used for treating bipolar disorder may be more likely to trigger a manic episode or rapid cycling than other depression drugs. They also tend to have more side effects than newer generation antidepressants, and can be especially dangerous in overdose. However, they are occasionally still used when other antidepressants are not effective, or when certain other conditions (such as migraine or neuropathic pain disorders) are also present. Like all antidepressants, experts recommend against taking a tricyclic medication without a mood stabilizer (such as lithium or divalproex) to minimize the chance of inducing mania symptoms.

Tricyclic antidepressants include:

Recommended Related to Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder was formerly called manic depression. It is a form of major affective disorder, or mood disorder, defined by manic or hypomanic episodes (changes from one's normal mood accompanied by high energy states). Bipolar disorder is a serious condition, for instance, mania can cause sleeplessness, sometimes for days, along with hallucinations, psychosis, grandiose delusions, or paranoid rage. In addition, depressive episodes can be more devastating and harder to treat than for people...

Read the Bipolar Disorder article > >

Tricyclic antidepressants work by increasing levels of the mood chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. However, because they may sometimes increase the risk of mania or rapid cycling -- as well as heart problems if you take heart medication -- these drugs are less often recommended for bipolar disorder.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on October 18, 2014

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