Bipolar Medications

The treatment for bipolar disorder usually involves bipolar medication. Often medications are used in combination for effective results, and it can take a period of trying different medications before a suitable medication or combination of bipolar medications is found to suit the individual.

Because bipolar mood swings often move between periods of mania and depression, mood stabilisers may need to be used in conjunction with anti-depressants, but caution needs to be exercised as for some there is a real risk of the depressed mood switching to a mood elevation, and this switching can have negative implications in long-term treatment.

Some of the more common bipolar disorder medications* include-

Mood Stabilisers

The most common and utilised being:

  • Lithium
  • Valproate or divalproex (Epilim or Depakote)
  • Lamotrigine (Lamictal or Lamictin )
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa )
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel)
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol)

There is some evidence for the use of oxcarbazapine (trileptal), while topiramate (topamax) and gabapentin are not of established value.


Most commonly used are:

  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Risperidone (Risperdal)
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel)
  • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • Ziprasidone (Zeldox)

Antipsychotic medications are used in treating mania and some have also been effective in treating depression and preventing the recurrence of episodes. They are at times used to relieve anxiety and sleep difficulties.

*All medications have a generic name – this is related to their chemical composition. All medications also have a trade or brand name which is given by the pharmaceutical company. Generic names are consistent across countries, however the brand name varies, we have included some of the commonly known brand names on this list in brackets ( ).

Author: Sue Lauder
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