Bipolar medications & how they help

Different kinds of medication


Below are some examples of medications used to treat bipolar disorder. In the first column on the left is the chemical or generic name of the medication. The next column has examples of some of the brand names assigned to these medications by pharmaceutical companies. The last column has a little information about this group of medications.

Mood stabilizers

Chemical name Brand names How they help
Lithium Quilonum, Camcolit Mood stabilizers can help to reduce symptoms of acute episodes and keep mood stable if taken in an ongoing way. 1 Certain mood stabilizers help to reduce suicide risk.2 It can take months before the person experiences the full benefits of the mood stabilizer.
Valproate or Divalproex Depakote, Epilim
Carbamazepine Tegretol
Lamotrigine Lamictal, Lamictin

Atypical antipsychotics

Chemical name Brand names How they help
Olanzapine Zyprexa Atypical antipsychotics can help to reduce mania and some are used to treat bipolar depression and prevent relapse.1 They are also used to treat anxiety, psychosis, restlessness and sleep problems.
Quetiapine Seroquel
Aripriprazole Abilify
Risperidone Risperidal
Amisulpiride Solian
Ziprasidone Zeldox
Clozapine Leponex, Clozari


Chemical class Brand names How they help
SSRI’s(sertraline, paroxetine, fluoxetine, citalopram, fluvoxamine escitalopram) Zoloft, Aropax/Paxil, Prozac, Celexa/Cipramil Luvox,Lexapro While the research literature is unclear in bipolar disorder, antidepressants may assist in some people who have depression provided they are taken together with a mood stabilizer. 3 However, antidepressants have been reported to trigger hypomanic or manic episodes in some people.
MAO inhibitors (tranlcypromine, phenelzine)SNRI’s ( venlafaxine, duloxetine, desvenlafaxine) Parnate, NardilEfexor, Cymbalta, Prisiq
Tricyclics (amitriptyline, imipramine) Tryptanol, Tofranil
Other(mirtazapine, reboxetine, bupropion agomelatine) Remeron/Avanza, Edronax, Wellbutrin, Valdoxan/Melitor


Chemical name Brand names How they help
Clonazepam Rivotril, Klonopin Benzodiazepines can help to relieve anxiety, panic, restlessness and insomnia. These are the only medications used in the treatment of bipolar disorder that are addictive. Higher doses are eventually required to get the same benefits. This means that they should be used for short periods when necessary rather than as daily treatments.
Diazepam Valium

To find out some important points about bipolar medication click here.


  1. Smith LA, Cornelius V, Warnock A, et al. Effectiveness of mood stabilizers and antipsychotics in the maintenance phase of bipolar disorder: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Bipolar Disord 2007; 9(4): 394-412.
  2. Baldessarini RJ, Tondo L, Davis P, et al. Decreased risk of suicides and attempts during long-term lithium treatment: a meta-analytic review. Bipolar Disord 2006; 8: 625-639.
  3. Baldessarini RJ, Calabrese JR, Tohen M, Bowden CL. Bipolar depression: Overview and commentary. Harvard Rev of Psychiat 2010; 18(3): 143-157.