About Bipolar Disorder


Bipolar Disorder treatment takes many forms and, as with any illness, what works for one person may not work for another.  Medication often comes in the form of a mood stabiliser, sometimes prescribed alongside an anti-depressant. Many people who live with bipolar don’t respond well to anti-depressants prescribed in isolation – they may also be prescribed a mood stabiliser and the two medications together may yield better results.  People experiencing psychosis may also be prescribed anti-psychotic medication.

Mood Stabilisers

Mood Stabilisers are the most widely prescribed Bipolar Disorder treatment.  Most commonly prescribed is Lithium, sometimes called Lithium Carbonate or Lithium Citrate.  Other names include:

- Camcolit
- Liskonum
- Priadel
- Litarex
- Li-liquid

Lithium is an element similar to sodium or potassium.  For many people, Lithium is a very effective medication, but too much Lithium in your blood can cause side effects and people taking Lithium must have their blood checked regularly.

Anti-epileptic Medication
Anti-epileptic medication is sometimes effective in treating bipolar.  Some commonly prescribed ones are:

- Sodium Valproate
- Valproic Acid
- Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
- Lamotrigine (Lamactil)

Used to treat depression but sometimes prescribed alongside a mood stabiliser for people experiencing bipolar.   Bipolar depression does not always respond well to antidepressants prescribed in isolation. Commonly prescribed antidepressants include:

- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Paroxetine (Paxil or Seroxat)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro, Esipram)
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
- Venlafaxine (Efexor)
- Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban)
- Amitriptyline

Antipsychotics or Neuroleptics
Sometimes known as major tranquillisers, the following drugs can be used to treat people with bipolar who experience psychosis:

- Haloperidol
- Quetiapine
- Olanzapine
- Respiradone
- Aripiprazole

Anti-anxiety Medication
Diazepam and Valium are sometimes prescribed to treat acute anxiety.

Electroconvulsive Treatment (ECT)
ECT can be used to treat resistant severe mania or depression. Many people have strong views on ECT but it can be a very effective treatment and is administered under tightly regulated conditions and only with the patient’s consent.

Behavioural Therapies
Behavioural Therapies are often used alongside medication. The following list is not exhaustive:

- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
- Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Family-centred Therapy
- Counselling
- Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT)

The important thing to remember is that there is no quick or easy way to manage bipolar. Finding a treatment that works well for you can often involve a period of trial and error until the right blend of medication, therapy and/or self-management is found. It’s important to keep an open mind, remain positive and develop a good open
relationship with your Psychiatrist or Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN).