Wolf in sheep clothing? Bipolar Disorder Medications and Side Effects
The First and Most Important Things to Know
Medication really is the most effective treatment available for bipolar disorder. Scientific studies and anecdotal reports all point to this. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect, and for most people bipolar medications are a trade-off. You’re basically trading potential side effects for mental health. For some people the trade is easy to make. For others it can be very difficult. Side effects are the number one reason people with bipolar disorder stop taking their medications. And unfortunately they cause many people to give up on medications altogether, before finding the right one or the right combination that works for them. Though it may take a long time, most people eventually do discover medications they can tolerate.
Other than side effects, another reason that people quit medications completely is that they believe they aren’t working, when in reality it’s often the case that either the dose is too low or the medication needs to be changed for a more effective one. People also stop or refuse their medications because they become manic and suddenly believe they are well and no longer need treatment.
The goal for treating bipolar disorder with medication is to find the right drug or combination of drugs for each symptom area. There are specific drugs for mania, depression, psychosis and anxiety, and there are some drugs that help with all these symptoms. A person may need only one drug, or they may need more than one. They may experience no side effects at all, or they may have to deal with many side effects. It can take a year or more to find the right combination of medications and the right doses that work for you. I tried over a dozen different medications, for example, before finding one that worked, and believe me it was worth the wait.