Web MD – Drug Information

The following information resides on Web MD. We’ve shared some of it here for your reference and the links are included if you want more information from the Web MD site.

Benzodiazepines (such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan):

Benzodiazepines rapidly help control certain manic symptoms in bipolar disorder until mood-stabilizing drugs can take effect. They are usually taken for a brief time, up to two weeks or so, with other mood-stabilizing drugs. They may also help restore normal sleep patterns in people with bipolar disorder.

Benzodiazepines slow the activity of the brain. In doing so, they can help treat mania, anxiety, panic disorder, insomnia, and seizures.

Read more about Benzodiazepine Drug Treatment on Web MD.

SSRIs – Antidepressants (such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor):

Many people assume that antidepressants can help relieve depression and boost mood in those with bipolar disorder, although research suggests that antidepressants may be less effective for treating depression in people with bipolar than than other types of depression. It typically takes three to four weeks for most people to respond to the treatment. Sometimes a doctor will try several different antidepressants and doses before finding one that works for a patient.

There are many different types of antidepressants used to treat depression among people with bipolar disorder, although many of the existing studies of their efficacy are based solely on people with unipolar rather than bipolar disorder.
Read more about antidepressants for Bipolar on Web MD.

Anticonvulsants (such as Lamictal, Depakote, Neurontin):

Increasingly, anticonvulsant medications are used as mood stabilizers to treat mania in bipolar disorder. Lamictal and Depakote are used to treat bipolar depression as well. Doctors discovered this use for the drugs when they noted improvements in mood stability among people with epilepsy. At first, anticonvulsants were prescribed only for people who did not respond to lithium. Today, they are often prescribed alone, with lithium, or with an antipsychotic drug to control mania.

Anticonvulsants work by calming hyperactivity in the brain in various ways. For this reason, some of these drugs are used to treat epilepsy, prevent migraines, and treat other brain disorders. They are often prescribed for people who have rapid cycling — four or more episodes of mania and depression in a year.

Read more about Anticonvulsants for Bipolar on Web MD.

Minor Tranquilizers and Sleeping Pills:

Some minor tranquilizers (such as Valium and Xanax) and sleeping pills (such as Ambien and Sonata) are widely prescribed. But these medicines can cause problems such as memory loss, addiction, and loss of balance. In rare cases, people who use them have done things like drive or eat while they’re still asleep. These medicines also can cause a serious allergic reaction. So it?s important to use them with caution.

Minor tranquilizers can be useful if you use them for a short time. But long-term use often isn’t very helpful, and it increases the risk of addiction and mental problems.

Sleeping pills may help for a few days or a few weeks. But if you use them for more than a month, they are likely to cause more sleep problems than they solve. For other options, see the topic Insomnia or Sleeping Better.

If you have been taking minor tranquilizers or sleeping pills for a while, talk with your doctor. Ask if you can stop taking the medicine or if you can gradually take less of it over time. If you have felt unsteady or dizzy, have had any memory loss, or have had signs of an allergic reaction, tell your doctor.

Read more about minor tranquilizers and sleeping pills for bipolar on Web MD.