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What Is Asenapine Used For?

Using Asenapine for Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a serious brain disease that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and functioning. As with schizophrenia, genetics may play a role in the development of bipolar disorder (see Bipolar Causes).
Bipolar disorder is different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through -- the symptoms of bipolar disorder are more severe. Episodes of mania and depression typically recur throughout the affected person's lifespan. Between episodes, most people with this condition are free of symptoms (see Bipolar Disorder Symptoms).
Effective bipolar disorder treatment usually involves a combination of psychotherapy (see Bipolar Psychosocial Treatments) and bipolar medications. Asenapine is approved to treat acute episodes of mania or mixed episodes, which involve symptoms of both mania and depression. Although the drug is currently only approved for acute (short-term) treatment of bipolar episodes, healthcare providers may recommend that people who respond well to this medication use it long-term in order to receive continued benefit.
Asenapine is approved to be used alone or in combination with valproate medications (Depakene®, Depakote®, or Depakote ER®) or lithium.

How Does Asenapine Work?

Asenapine belongs to a group of drugs called atypical (or second-generation) antipsychotic medications. It is not entirely clear how asenapine works for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, it is known to block or lessen the effects of certain chemicals in the brain. These chemicals (such as dopamine and serotonin) may be elevated in people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
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