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List of Bipolar Depression Medications and Their Side-Effects

A list of bipolar depression medications can be a useful reference to help you navigate the world of bipolar medication. After all, medication is often referred to as first-line treatment because it is the first remedy someone receives once they’ve received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. The below bipolar depression medications list contains commonly prescribed drugs by category as well as information about their uses and side effects.

List of FDA-approved Bipolar Depression Medications

You’re about to see that numerous medications are prescribed to help bipolar depression. Only five, though, are FDA-approved medications for bipolar depression:

  • Cariprazine (Vraylar) – an atypical antipsychotic approved for medical use in the United States in 2015
  • Lurasidone (Latuda) – an atypical antipsychotic approved for medical use in the United States in 2010
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa) – an atypical antipsychotic approved for medical use in the United States in 1996
  • Olanzapine-fluoxetine combination (Symbax) – an atypical antipsychotic and antidepressant combination approved for medical uses in the United States in 2003
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel) – an atypical antipsychotic approved for medical use in the United States in 1997

While lurasidone, olanzapine, the olanzapine-fluoxetine combination, quetiapine and cariprazine are FDA approved for the treatment of bipolar depression, they’re not the only medications used. Many other medications may be used in treating the depression symptoms of this debilitating disorder. Sometimes anticonvulsants and other atypical antipsychotics are used to treat bipolar depression as is lithium (a mood stabilizer). Antidepressants are occasionally used but are contraindicated in many cases and should never be used without the addition of a medication that can act as mood stabilizer.

Bipolar Depression Medications List

Below is a list of commonly-prescribed medications used for bipolar depression, grouped by category.  Each category in this list of bipolar depression medications contains multiple bipolar depression drugs.

Antipsychotics: The are primarily used as mood stabilizers in treating bipolar disorder, and they can also help treat psychotic episodes that can happen in both mania and depression.

Most side-effects are mild annoyances such as dry mouth, drowsiness, constipation, and sexual dysfunction. However, some of the newer, atypical antipsychotics—especially clozapine (Clozaril) and olanzapine (Zyprexa)—can cause significant weight gain that can contribute to type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. First generation, typical psychotics, can cause problems with movement, a cluster of symptoms called extrapyramidal side effects.

Atypical antipsychotics:

Typical (first-generation) antipsychotics:

Anticonvulsants: These are used as mood stabilizers, preventing swings from depression to mania. Typical side-effects are weight gain, drowsiness, gastrointestinal discomfort, and dizziness.

Antidepressants: This class of medication seems like a logical choice to treat bipolar depression; unfortunately, antidepressants can sometimes cause more problems than they solve. Sometimes, they induce mania or mixed episodes.

Side effects of antidepressants in general range from mild to serious. Fatigue, dizziness, constipation, weight gain, difficulty sleeping, reduced sex drive, blurred vision, and dry mouth can be irritating. If you experience any of these more serious symptoms, it’s important to contact your doctor right away: suicidal thoughts, increased depression, anxiety or panic, agitation or restlessness, hallucinations, increased irritability, and other signs that your mood is destabilizing.

While there are numerous classes of antidepressants, three are most likely to be used to treat bipolar depression. One type is the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs):

Another antidepressant sometimes used with bipolar depression is the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs):

Tricyclic antidepressants include:

Bipolar depression is often treated with a combination of medications. Usually, finding the blend of medications that work for you and your brain takes patience, trial-and-error, and open communication with your doctor. When you discover what works for you, bipolar depression medications tend to work well.

See also: "What Are the Best Medications, Treatments for Bipolar Depression?"

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2019, June 17). List of Bipolar Depression Medications and Their Side-Effects, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-depression/list-of-bipolar-depression-medications-and-their-side-effects

Last Updated: June 19, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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