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Medications for Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Your health care provider (HCP) might prescribe one or more medications to treat your symptoms. These may include:

  • Mood stabilizers
    These medications help even out your highs and lows. Some mood stabilizer medications are called anticonvulsants, because they are also used to treat epilepsy.
  • Antidepressants
    These medications help lift the symptoms of depression. There are several different classes and types of antidepressants to choose from.
  • Antipsychotics
    These medications are primarily used to treat symptoms of mania. Even if you are not hallucinating or having delusions, these medications can help slow racing thoughts to a manageable speed.

It may take some time for you and your doctor to find the right medication(s) for you. It can also take several weeks for your medication to fully work. You might feel some side effects of your medicaiton before you feeel the benefits—that doesn't mean the medication doesn't work.

Don't stop taking your medication, change your dosage, or add any kind of medication without first speaking with your doctor.

Questions to Ask your HCP about Your Medication or Treatment

  • How does this treatment work in my brain? What chemicals or processes does it work on?
  • When will I start to feel some improvement? What symptoms should this treatment relieve?
  • What might the side effects of my treatment be? How can I cope with them?
  • What are the risks associated with my treatment?
  • How can I recognize problems if they happen?
  • Is there anything I can do to make this treatment more effective?
  • Is this the usual treatment for my illness? If not, how did you choose it?
  • What is our next step if this treatment is not effective?
  • How will this treatment affect the treatments I'm receiving for other illnesses?
  • How can I reach you in an emergency?

For a list of more questions to ask your doctor, click here.

Medication Side Effects

Sometimes it's hared to tell if something (such as sleepiness, anxiety, or headache) is a side effect or a symptom of your illness. Many side effects will go away as your body gets use to the medication. Keep track of your side effects and talk about them wit your doctor. He or she may prescribe an additional medication, adjust your dosage, or change your medication.

Tools to Help You Track Medications and/or Side Effects

  • The DBSA Wellness Tracker is an oline tool that helps you keep track of your mood, symptoms, lifestyle choices, medications, and side effects.
  • Medication Side Effects (pdf) is a short form you can download to help you keep track of the nature and severity of side effects.

Don't stop taking your medication, change your dosage, or add any kind of medication without first speaking with your doctor.

Additional Helpful Information