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Teens and Bipolar Disorder

How Is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

If your doctor determines you have bipolar disorder, he or she may prescribe one or more medications, depending on the type and severity of the symptoms.

Some drugs often used to stabilize mania or hypomania include lithium carbonate, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, and benzodiazepines. Lithium and lamotrigine (Lamictal) are standard treatments for the depressed phase of bipolar disorder. Doctors are cautious in using antidepressants alone, as they might trigger a manic mood swing.

Psychotherapy can help the patient and family learn more about the illness and how to cope with the mood changes. Because of the relapses and remissions of bipolar disorder, the illness has a high rate of recurrence if untreated.

When Should I Call the Doctor About Bipolar Disorder?

If you have symptoms of bipolar disorder, talk to your doctor. It may be nothing at all. Or, your doctor might refer you to a bipolar specialist, a psychiatrist, or psychopharmacologist, for a second opinion and accurate diagnosis. (A psychopharmacologist is a psychiatrist who is an expert in using medications to treat psychiatric chemical imbalances.)

The specialist will talk to you about your symptoms. After a physical exam and patient history, the specialist will rule out other possible causes of depression and mania, such as medications, alcohol, illicit drug use, illnesses such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, or injuries to the central nervous system.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on August 03, 2014
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