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Ask the Mental Health Expert Archives 2001-2004

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Medications for Bipolar Disorder

Q. I'm a 30-year-old woman, recently diagnosed with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. I would like the opportunity to research medications available to someone with my condition. There are websites out there listing side effects but only if you know the drug name. I don't know these drugs or their names. Can you direct me as to where I can get comprehensive information on medications available to those who live with bipolar disorder?

A. First of all, it's great that you want to learn more about medications for bipolar disorder (BD). However, I would recommend that you take a broader view of BD, even though medications are a critical part of treatment.

For a very good general source of information on BD, you can go to the website of the National Institute of Mental Health: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/bipolar.cfm. This site provides background information on BD as well as very readable discussions of medications for this condition. Another good source is the booklet put out by NIMH (NIH Publication No. 02-3679), which answers many common questions about bipolar disorder. Detailed information on medication, as well as many other issues, may be found in the new book, "Surviving Manic Depression: A Manual on Bipolar Disorder for Patients, Families, and Providers", by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey & Michael B. Knable.

Finally, you can find out a great deal about BD and its treatment--including psychosocial treatments, which are important adjuncts to medication--at the website for what was called the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association (NDMDA), and is now called the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (http://www.dbsalliance.org or call 800-826-3632).

Remember, though, that your doctor is usually the best source of information on what treatment is right for you.

Other Resources:

November 2003

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