Bipolar Disorder Treatments and Drugs

Bipolar Disorder Treatment Options

The good news is that treatment for Bipolar Disorder helps many people-even those with the most severe forms of bipolar disorder, to gain better control of their mood swings and other bipolar symptoms. A typical, effective, plan for treatment includes a combination of psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy”), and some type of medication.

No Quick Fixes

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness. Unfortunately, episodes of depression and mania often return over time. However, typically, many people with bipolar disorder are free of mood changes between episodes. Some people may have lingering symptoms. In the long-term, most people with bipolar disorder need continuous treatment to help to control any symptoms that arise.


Use of Medications for Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder Treatments and Drugs

Different types of medications are available that can help control symptoms of bipolar disorder. Oftentimes, those with Bipolar Disorder may need to try several different medications before finding ones that work best for them.

Medications generally used to treat bipolar disorder include:
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Atypical antipsychotics
  • Antidepressants


Those taking these medications should:

Make sure they take the time to talk with their pharmacist or doctor so they can understand the benefits and risks of the medication.

Do not suddenly stop taking a medication without first  talking to your doctor, because doing so may lead to “rebound” or worsening of the symptoms of bipolar disorder, and other uncomfortable or potentially dangerous withdrawal effects.

Immediately report any side effects or concerns to their doctor. The doctor may want to try a different medication, or adjust the dosage of the medication.


When done in combination with medication, psychotherapy (also known as “talk therapy”) can be an effective treatment for Bipolar Disorder. A professional therapist trained in helping people with Bipolar Disorder can offer support, education, and guidance to people with Bipolar Disorder and their families. Some psychotherapy treatments used to treat bipolar disorder include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Family-focused therapy
  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
  • Psychoeducation

Other Treatment Options

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

This form of treatment has been proven to provide relief for people with severe bipolar disorder who have not been able to recover with other treatments. Sometimes ECT is used for bipolar symptoms when other medical conditions, including pregnancy, make taking medications too risky. Some short-term side effects can be seen with ECT such as confusion, disorientation, and memory loss. We recommend you discuss with your doctor the possible benefits and risks of using ECT.


Sleep Medications

Those with bipolar disorder who have trouble sleeping typically find that treatment is helpful. And in the case where sleeplessness does not improve, your medical provider may suggest a change in medications. If the problem continues, the doctor may prescribe sedatives or other sleep medications.



We do not recommend the use of supplements as there is not enough research done on natural or herbal supplements and their effect on bipolar disorder.

If you are taking any supplements we recommend that you let your primary care doctor or psychiatrist know about these and any over-the-counter medications because certain supplements taken together with medications may cause drug interactions that can be dangerous.


Getting Help For Bipolar Disorder

Your primary care physician or family doctor is the best resource to start so that any medical issues which may be impacting you can be ruled out.

They will typically refer you to a mental health practitioner. Ideally, if you suspect you have symptoms of Bipolar Disorder-you should request any provider you see has this specialization. In addition, to exploring medications through a psychiatrist, as mentioned above, some form of talk therapy have been shown to be helpful through the treatment process.

If you, or a loved one is in crisis- call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone and all calls are confidential.

If you would like to make an appointment to see our Integrative Psychiatrist for Bipolar Disorder and learn more about Bipolar Disorder Treatments and Drugs, call us at 713.426.3100.