Prescription Drugs As Bipolar Disorder Treatments

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Modern medicine and modern knowledge of brain chemistry has led to the development of a number of drugs to ease the debilitating effects of mental illness. One of the big demographics to have benefited from brain-altering psychiatric medications is people who suffer from bipolar disorder.

Bipolar manic depression: this terrible disease, which is also known as manic-depressive disorder, subjects its sufferers to extreme and uncontrollable that can last up to a year. Untreated, the disease can lead to personal and financial ruin for its sufferers, as well as possible incarceration, or even suicide. Fortunately, there are now many medications that can help to control the symptoms of this disease. With modern medicine, the sufferers of bipolar disorder can lead something that approximates a normal life.

The most oft-employed medication in the treatment of bipolar disorder is lithium carbonate. This naturally-occurring salt, if taken at a regular dosage over a long time,  helps to stabilize bipolar mood swings. A certified psychiatrist needs to determine the appropriate dosage of lithium to prescribe to each patient. A patient who takes the prescribed dosage on a regular basis (and only the prescribed dosage) over a period of six months or more can expect to undergo fewer episodes of mania and depression.

However, with lithium carbonate, proper dosage is crucial. If the amount of lithium in a patient’s bloodstream is too low, the drug is ineffective. If the amount of lithium is too high, it becomes toxic to the patient, who may then exhibit symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, loss of bowel control, and muscle tremors.

Other drugs used to treat bipolar disorder include carbamazepine, lamotrigine, and valproate. These substances fall into a class of medicines known as anticonvulsants. As the name implies, they are typically used to prevent involuntary muscle convulsions, such as those caused by epilepsy. Anticonvulsants have also proved effective at keeping the symptoms of bipolar mania under control. Sometimes anticonvulsants are used in conjunction with lithium. Lithium helps to stabilize the patient’s moods. Meanwhile, if any manic episodes do take place, despite the regular usage of lithium, lamotrigine and other drugs of that class mitigate their severity.

Antipsychotic medicines are the third class of drugs used to treat bipolar disorder. This class of drugs includes olanzapine, risperidone, and quetiapine. These medicines are considered “atypical” antipsychotic medications. All of these drugs are sedatives, and are typically used only against severe bipolar symptoms. In particular, they are useful in combating some of the more severe effects of bipolar mania, which can include disordered thought and hallucinations.

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