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Bipolar Medications

Medications for Bipolar Disorder in Children and Adolescents

Children and adolescents with bipolar disorder generally are treated with lithium, but valproate and carbamazepine also are used. Researchers are evaluating the safety and efficacy of these and other psychotropic medications in children and adolescents. There is some evidence that valproate may lead to adverse hormonal changes in teenage girls and polycystic ovary syndrome in women who began taking the medication before age 20. Therefore, a physician should monitor young female patients who are taking valproate.

Bipolar Medications for Women

Women with bipolar disorder who wish to conceive, or who become pregnant, face special challenges due to the possible harmful effects of existing mood-stabilizing medications on the developing fetus and on the nursing infant. Therefore, the benefits and risks of all available treatment options should be discussed with a clinician skilled in this area. New treatments with reduced risks during pregnancy and breastfeeding are being studied.

Side Effects of Bipolar Medications

Before starting a new medication for bipolar disorder, always talk with your psychiatrist and/or pharmacist about possible side effects. Depending on the medication, side effects may include:
  • Weight gain
  • Nausea
  • Tremor
  • Reduced sexual drive or performance
  • Anxiety
  • Hair loss
  • Movement problems
  • Dry mouth.
Be sure to tell the healthcare provider about all side effects you notice during treatment. He or she may be able to change the dose or offer a different medication to relieve them. Your bipolar medication should not be changed or stopped without the psychiatrist's guidance.
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