2010 November | Pharmacy Blog

If you have bipolar disorder, you will probably need medication. You may need it for the rest of your life. That can be hard to accept. Some people see medication as a crutch or a weakness; instead they want to get better on their own.

But you have to remember that bipolar disorder is a real medical illness. It’s not something you can cure with willpower. Taking bipolar disorder medication is just like taking medication for high blood pressure or heart disease. Medication can be like a pair of glasses. Bipolar disorder distorts your view of things; medication may allow you to see clearly again.

While your diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder may leave you feeling relieved on one hand because you finally know what is wrong, but more worried on the other, know that you are on the right path. Once your doctor or therapist has diagnosed your disorder, you can gain the knowledge you need to learn to deal with your disorder. Along with suggesting some lifestyle changes, your doctor may start you on a regimen of medicine to help control your symptoms.

There are several medicines available to help Bipolar Disorder, but in order for them to be effective, they must be taken exactly as your doctor prescribes. Here are some of the Bipolar medications your doctor may prescribe. The first medication used to treat Bipolar Disorder, and still prescribed today, is Lithium.

First used in the 1950′s, Lithium was not actually approved for use in Bipolar disorder until the 1970′s. Once your doctor prescribes Lithium, it will probably take about one week to start working and may take up to three weeks before you feel the full benefits. Along with its mood stabilizing abilities, Lithium users may also experience hair loss, thyroid problems and swelling. Your doctor may be able to prescribe medicines to help with the side effects of this Bipolar medicine.

Another type of Bipolar medicine often prescribed to help stabilize moods includes medicines originally formulated as anticonvulsants. These include drugs such as Depakote or Tegretol. Like Lithium, these drugs may also take up to three weeks to completely control your Bipolar symptoms.

Reported side effects include mild stomach cramps, hair loss, and sleepiness or grogginess during the day. The higher your medication dose, the more problems you may have with daytime sleepiness. Users of these medicines often report turning to coffee to help counteract this side effect.

A newer class of drugs now being used to treat the manic phase of Bipolar Disorder is named the psychotropic medicines. There are several drugs in this class that will help reduce chance of experiencing a manic phase and may even bring about a remission in your symptoms. The Bipolar medicine in this class offers a lower risk of weight gain as well as a lower risk of developing diabetes than some other treatments.

One note of caution about most Bipolar medications – they can be very dangerous to pregnant women. If you are a woman who wants to become pregnant or has just become pregnant, tell your doctor. He or she can help you to assess the risks to you and your baby and together you can decide how to progress with your treatment.

There are many types of Bipolar medicine on the market today. While some may produce desirable results in one patient, they may not help another. Some may find the side effects of one medicine intolerable while they do not affect another. Only by working together with your doctor and therapist you can find a medication that best suites you and best controls your symptoms.

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