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Pages Related to Treatment for Bipolar Disorder:

Help for Bipolar Disorder - Coaching
Art Therapy
Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder medications


By reading this site, the reader acknowledges their personal responsibility in choices for mental health for themselves and their children, and agrees that the AYCNP or anyone associated with this site, bears no responsibility for one's personal decisions in choices for mental health. Anyone coming off medication should do so gradually rather than abruptly, and under a doctor's supervision. Anyone experiencing thoughts of suicide should seek support.

Books worth reading
on bipolar disorder

New Hope for People with Bipolar Disorder: Your Friendly, Authoritative Guide to the Latest in Traditional and Complementary Solutions, Jan Fawcett, Bernard Golden, Nancy Rosenfeld

Why some get worse rather than better taking antidepressants and precautions. Seeing both sides of atypical antipsychotics, and other medications that affect neurotransmitters; effective lifestyle changes, coping with stigma; guide to various forms of psychotherpay.

The Bipolar Workbook: Tools for Controlling Your Mood Swings, by Monica Ramirez Basco PhD

Overcoming bipolar disorder can be hard work and take commitment and a positive attitude. However, there is much that an individual can do to help himself, and self help in bipolar disorder is often ignored. This book offers practical ideas in overcoming bipolar disorder.

Meeting the Challenge of Bipolar Disorder: Self Help Strategies that Work!, by the AYCNP, Gabrielle Woods PhD (Editor), Dr. Laura Pipoly (Foreword)

Overcoming Bipolar Disorder Using Self Help Methods provides tested and practical ideas in self help that can improve symptoms and help most with bipolar disorder to achieve remission. (Currently eBook. Paperback scheduled for Dec 15, 2012).

Bipolar In Order: Looking at Depression, Mania, Hallucination, and Delusion From The Other Side, by Tom Wootton, MD; Peter Forster (Contributor), PhD Maureen Duffy (Contributor)

A counter-view from one author with bipolar disorder, over the typical approach to the disorder.

Refusing Care: Forced Treatment and the Rights of the Mentally Ill, by Elyn R. Saks

Elyn Saks, a spokesperson for mental illness, who herself battles with mental illness, is a writer, professor, and spokesperson on the subject. Saks' successful career dispels the myth that those with mental illness cannot succeed in life.

Bipolar Children, by Sharna Olfman

From Bipolar Children Introduction (on-site link)
---On December 13, 2006, 4-year-old Rebecca Riley died of a prescription drug overdose. At 2 and one half years of age, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (BD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by a respected psychiatrist in a clinic affiliated with Tufts University, who prescribed three medications: Depakote an anti-seizure drug, Clonidine, an anti-hypertensive, and Seroquel, an antipsychotic. These three drugs were in her system at the time of her death.

Blaming the Brain, The Truth About Drugs and Mental Health, Elliot Valenstein

This provides useful insight into the development of the medical model in mental health, the economic incentives that have caused pharmaceutical treatment to become the emphasis in psychiatry, and numerous issues with the drug treatment of mental health disorders. This book is extremely well-researched and thorough.

Page updated: March 10, 2015

Facts on Bipolar Disorder Drug Treatment

For those who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder, drug treatment in the form of mood stabilizers (such as lithium), antipsychotics, both atypical (such as Zyprexa) and typical (such as Chlorazin), are usually prescribed. Antidepressants may also be prescribed by some psychiatrists or medical doctors. This page provides some details and a general idea of the specific and types of medications which are often prescribed for bipolar disorder, and the type of side effects which most experience.

It should be realized, that with the exception of many SSRI antidepressants, drugs for the treatment of bipolar disorder, generally slow down the mental and physical functioning of the body. Antipsychotics and mood stabilizers of all genres generally cause drowsiness or extreme drowsiness in some clients.

Who prescribes medication for bipolar disorder

A psychologist cannot prescribe medications/drugs, but only a psychiatrist. Sometimes pediatricians will prescribe drug treatment for children, even infants.

Prescribed multiple medications, "drug cocktails," is counterproductive

It should be noted that this is a very controversial in psychiatry, and not all doctors agree with giving young children, children, and even teens, strong antipsychotic and mood stabilizing drugs.

Further, many teens and children, as well as adults, are prescribed four to six different psychiatric medications at one time. The side effects intensify with each new drug, and some are rendered incapacitated, not from the psychiatric condition, but from the strong side effects of the psychiatric drugs.

Serious side effects of drug treatment for bipolar disorder

Short term and long term memory loss have been experienced by some psychiatric clients as a result. The long-term effects on children, teens or adults are not fully known at this time, as there are not enough long-term clinical studies to draw accurate conclusions.

Even lithium can cause lethargy, emotional dulling, and may not fully address the issues for which it is prescribed.

At best, psychiatric drugs for bipolar disorder hold symptoms at bay, or relieve some symptoms. However, side effects are so distressing for some, that many choose not to stay on the medications. Medications for bipolar disorder do not correct a chemical imbalance, as popularly touted. Rather, the sedating nature of the drugs contributes to evening out highs and lows in mood swings.

Short term hospital stays can be stabilizing, irrespective of drug treatment

This combined with the stabilizing influence of regular doctor visits and intervention from numerous of professionals, provides a reference point of stability for those with symptoms of bipolar disorder. Short-term hospital stays, in times of crisis, can also be stabilizing, and a check-point for manic or depressive episodes. The beneficial effects of such hospital visits, combined with attention from mental health professionals and workers, can be stabilizing, and has nothing to do with positive effects of medication.

Serious negative side effects of medication for bipolar disorder is common,
but not universal

It should be noted, however, that serious side effects for medicine used in treatment for bipolar disorder is not universal. While some experience ongoing issues with side effects, some adjust to the medication in time, and do not experience ongoing strong side effects. However, distressing side effects for drugs used in treatment of bipolar disorder is so common, and serious issues in the use of drug treatment, so common, that it is of serious note and something to be considered in treatment choices, as well as in taking seriously the positive and neglected role of self help for bipolar disorder.

Self help for bipolar disorder is recommended

With that in mind, those who display symptoms of bipolar disorder, should think seriously about what self help, lifestyle changes can be made in their life, which can and does help to alleviate some or many of the symptoms that may be experienced with a bipolar diagnosis.

The following should give the reader a general idea of the psychiatric drugs used in treating bipolar disorder.

mood stabilizer

Lithium-side effects and possible complications:

  • 5-35% develop depression of thyroid gland functioning (hypothyroidism) - (treated w/thyroid replacement meds)
  • Can cause an increase in mood cycling.

  • (Mondimore, F. M., M.D. 2006. p.91)

  • "Lithium has been associated with birth defects." Stopping after finding out one is pregnant "may be too late to prevent a birth defect." (Ibid, p.91)
  • "A noticeable dulling of mental functioning and coordination," is listed as a major side effect. (Ibid, p. 92)
  • "Patients often complain that their ability to memorize and learn is affected and that they have a difficult-to explain sense of mental sluggishness."(Ibid, p. 92)
  • Several studies maintaining bipolar patients on lithium for five years or more found only just over one-third remained in remission. (Carson, R.C., Butcher, J.N. Mineka, S., 2000. p.638)

  • Valporate (Sodium Valporate)
    anticonvulsant/ mood stabilizer

  • Used to treat epileptic seizures and bipolar disorder

  • Valporate has a milder side-effects profile than lithium. (Ibid, p.94)
  • Valporate can sometimes can lead to liver problems. p. 95

  • "Birth defects" when taken by pregnant women. (Ibid, p.95).
  • "[M]any newer medications [such as Valporate] don't seem to be more effective than available older ones when studied in large groups of patients." (Ibid, p.96)

  • Tegretol (carbamazepine)
    anticonvulsant/ mood stabilizer

    One well-designed study concludes that (Tegretol) and similar medications have less success in alleviating symptoms of bipolar disorder than lithium. It is therefore recommended as a secondary medication rather than as a first line treatment.

  • Side effects for Tegretol can be, again, "sleepiness, light-headedness, some initial nausea," as well as other physical side effects. (Ibid).
  • Carbamazepine (Equetro, Tegretol, Carbatrol, others) are used for bipolar disorder and epilepsy are sedating to "mildly sedating." (Burgess, W., p.78)

    atypical antipsychotic

    Used to treat -

  • schizophrenia

  • schizoeffective disorder

  • bipolar disorder
  • Mixed results from psychiatrists using risperdal to treat bipolar disorder.

  • "My bipolar patients have not had very good success with risperdal. Several of my patients have become worse while taking it." (Fawcett, Golden, p. 94)

  • Depakote (divalproex sodium) - Depakene (Valporic Acid)
    antiseizure medication -

  • Depakote and Depakene are used for both bipolar disorder and seizures.
  • Many meds used for bipolar disorder are also used for epilepsy.

  • Clozaril (clozapine)
    sedative - typical antipsychotic

  • used since the 1960s for treatment of schizophrenia

  • "Very sedating"
  • "Can cause blood problems." (Fawcett, Golden).
  • Clozaril Side Effects (off-site)


  • Studies have shown that sedatives can make people "more irritable and angry even without their realizing."
  • Sedatives can also be "addictive," difficult withdrawal. (Burgess, W. p.95)
  • Dr. Wes Burges does not recommend sedatives such as Xanax (alprazolam) Iorazenar (Ativan) Clonazepam (Klonopin) and Diazepam (Valium) for bipolar disorder.

    Zyprexa (olanzapine)
    atypical antipsychotic

    Zyrexa is described as the best atypical antipsychotic. "However it is sedating." P. 93

  • Sedating
  • Weight gain and diabetes have been issues with Zyprexa. (Burgess)
  • Diabetes (some resultant deaths).
    [There have been lawsuits of late with use of Zyprexa in connection with diabetes].

  • Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate)
    atypical antipsychotic

  • Seroquel is "sedating"
  • .

    Conclusion from Dr. Burgess, Golden and Mondimore's works on medications used in treatment of bipolar disorder.

    Dr's Burgess, Fawcett, Golden and Mondimore have written thorough, authoritative references on bipolar disorder and all prescribed medication for treatment of mental illness and bipolar disorder in their practice.

    From their works, we can realize, that there are certain risks and serious side effects involved with taking medications for bipolar disorder, that most pharmaceutical treatments for BD are sedating, and that much can be accomplished trough lifestyle changes, and various therapies.

    (SSRI antidepressant)

    Paxil Can Contribute to Mania for those with bipolar disorder or Depression

    Paxil is an SSRI of special note for those with bipolar disorder, or who might be depressed and have a tendency towards mania. The following is a quote from Marcia Purse's newsletter on BD, from About.com, which accurately describes some difficulties that Paxil may present for some.

    Some have described a feeling of being "high" while on Paxil or "speeded up". Paxil is chemically different than other antidepressants, so it is necessary to use it cautiously, both for many possible potential physical problems, not listed here, but also with regards to the following information,

    "During clinical testing in depressed patients, approximately 1% of patients experienced manic reactions. For bipolar patients, the incidence of mania was just over 2%. As with all antidepressants, paroxetine (Paxil) should be used with caution in patients with a history of mania.

    Increase in use of medication in treatment of mental health "disorders" from 1993 to 2003.

    The most common side effects associated with the use of paroxetine (Paxil) are nausea, drowsiness/sleepiness, sweating, tremor, asthenia (weakness or loss of strength), dizziness, dry mouth, insomnia and male sexual dysfunction (primarily ejaculatory delay).

    About twice as many patients reported back pain on placebo as on Paxil, and half again as many experienced chest pain on placebo. This could be attributed to Paxil's anti-anxiety effects.

    To avoid withdrawal syndrome, Paxil should be tapered off rather than sharply discontinued. Avoid alcohol, as Paxil can cause drowsiness. The risk of fatal overdose is very small with Paxil. As with all SSRIs, long-term use can lead to weight gain. [5]

    References for Facts on Bipolar Disorder Treatment

    1. Burgess, Wes, M.D., Ph.D., (2006). The Bipolar Handbook. London: Penguin.

    2. Carson, R.C., Butcher, J.N. Mineka, S., (2000). Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

    3. Fawcett, J, M.D., Golden, B., Ph.D., (2007). New Hope for People with Bipolar Disorder 2nd edition. New York: Three Rivers Press

    4. Mondimore, Francis Mark, M.D. (2006).Bipolar - A Guide for Patients and Families 2nd Edition. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press.

    5. Purse, Marcia, (June 24, 2008). About.com

    Pages Related to Facts on Bipolar Disorder Drug Treatment

    Help for Bipolar Disorder - Coaching

    Psychiatric Drugs - Types, Effects Uses, Side Effects

    About Bipolar Disorder Information and Facts

    Bipolar Disorder Self Help 50 Natural Ways to Overcome Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

    Labeling in Psychiatry - The Medical Model of Mental Health and its Shortcomings

    Bipolar Disorder Overdiagnosed

    Bipolar Disorder and Children, Sharna Olfman

    Bipolar Disorder and Music

    Bipolar Disorder Treatment - Antidepressants

    Bipolar Disorder Treatment - Children and Teens

    Bipolar Disorder Overdiagnosed