Bipolar medication – important points

  • Many people with bipolar disorder take prescribed medication regularly to reduce bipolar symptoms and prevent relapse.
  • Some people find that the first medication they take to treat their bipolar disorder helps them to keep well. For others, finding the right treatment is a trial and error process.
  • The person might need to work with their clinician and try different bipolar medications alone, in combination, or at different doses to find the right treatment for them.
  • Bipolar treatments often take time to begin to work and for people to experience the full benefits of taking them.
  • The person may need to weigh up the benefits of a certain bipolar medication in helping them to keep well and the discomfort of the side effects. Some side effects are temporary, or can be overcome by adjusting the dose or changing medications in consultation with the clinician.
  • If the person develops new bipolar symptoms, medications that have helped to keep their bipolar mood stable may need to be adjusted.
  • If the person stops taking a medication that has helped, the benefits will no longer be there once the medication is out of their system.1
  • Some medications need to be stopped gradually.
  • The person may need to check with their clinician or pharmacist to see if the medications they are taking have negative interactions with other medications they may need.
  • Certain medications are not recommended during pregnancy or if a mother is breastfeeding.
  • Changes in diet may be required while taking certain medication
  • Blood tests are required to monitor certain medications.

For a summary of the different kinds of bipolar medication click here


1. Biel MG, Peselow E, Mulcare L, Case BG, Fieve R. Continuation versus discontinuation of lithium in recurrent bipolar illness: a naturalistic study. Bipolar Disord 2007; 9:435-442.