Treatments for Manic Depression


Sometimes people confuse major depression with manic depression, but these are two different mental illnesses.

Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes extreme shifts in mood and behavior typically referred to as "mood episodes."

A "manic episode" is when a person is in an overly happy or excited state for a period of time. A "depressive episode" occurs when a person is overly sad or depressed for a period of time. Sometimes a "mood episode" can be mixed, with both manic and depressive symptoms. All of these episodes severely interrupt a person’s life, making it hard to function normally.

Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

What’s important to know is that, while bipolar disorder is a complicated mental health condition, there are therapeutic treatments that can help a person resume normal life activities:

Mood Stabilizing Medications

These medications are typically the first choice in the treatment of bipolar disorder. These treatments, also referred to as anticonvulsants, include drugs such as lithium, Depakote (valproic acid), Lamictal (lamotrigine), Neurontin (gabapentin), Topamax (topiramate) and Trileptal (oxcarbazepine).

Atypical Antipsychotic Medications

These medications are usually used in combination with other therapies as most are used to treat manic or mixed episodes of bipolar disorder. These include Zyprexa (olanzapine), Abilify (aripiprazole), Seroquel (quetiapine), Risperdal (risperidone) and Geodon (ziprasidone).

Antidepressant Medications

Sometimes antidepressants are used to treat the symptoms of depression seen in bipolar disorder. There are several classes of antidepressant medications including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclics and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs):

  • SSRIs include Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Lexapro (escitalopram), Paxil (paraxetine) and Celexa (citalopram). These are some of the most widely used antidepression medications and are available as generics.
  • SNRIs include Effexor (venlafaxine) and Cymbalta (duloxetine).
  • Tricyclics are older antidepressants that are extremely powerful and are not typically prescribed much today. They include imipramine and nortriptyline.
  • MAOIs are the oldest type of medications for depression and should not be taking with SSRIs. MAOIs include the Emsan patch (selegiline), Nardil (phenelzine), Marplan (isocarboxazid) and Parnate (tranyclcypromine sulfate).

Source: National Institute of Mental Health


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