Bipolar disorder: Treatment with medications

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​Learn about the medications that can treat bipolar disorder, including their side effects and how your child will be monitored while they take them.

Key points

  • Bipolar disorder is a chronic condition that most often requires long-term treatment with medications.
  • Due to the complexity of symptoms, a child or teen may need to take more than one medication at a time.
  • To give your child's doctor time to judge a medication's effectiveness, your child or teen usually needs to take the medication for several weeks to months.
  • The most common medications for treating bipolar disorder in children and teens are antipsychotics, lithium and anticonvulsants. Antidepressants are sometimes used to treat depression in bipolar disorder but usually at the same time as a mood stabilizer.
  • Medications for bipolar disorder have various adverse effects that require careful monitoring by a doctor through a physical exam and blood tests.
Last updated: July 15th 2016