Some people with certain types of bipolar disorder may benefit from some forms of antidepressants. However, studies on the subject have produced mixed results, and whether antidepressants may prove effective depends on the individual.

Bipolar disorder (BD) is a mental health condition that involves extreme mood shifts — people with the condition cycle through high and low moods. However, antidepressants may help those with this condition. Additionally, mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and other medications may also help treat BD symptoms.

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BD treatment typically involves a combination of different medications. Antidepressants can help some individuals with BD, and sometimes, short-term antidepressants can treat acute depression.

Antidepressants may benefit certain types of BD — people with type 2 BD may see improvement with these medications. Individuals with other types of BD may need a combination of different medications.

However, according to some research, antidepressants can speed up mood cycling, which may increase periods of depression and mania. Rapid cycling can make it harder to manage BD symptoms.

Research into antidepressants and BD remains limited. While some studies show they can be effective, researchers still do not know exactly how or why they work for BD.

Anyone interested in antidepressants for BD can speak with a doctor. Choosing the right medication may depend on the type of BD and the severity of depression symptoms. However, only a trained healthcare professional can provide effective treatment advice.

Learn more about bipolar disorder.

Mood stabilizers can help prevent manic and depressive episodes. A common mood stabilizer for BD is lithium, but other options may include:

  • valproate
  • lamotrigine
  • topiramate
  • oxcarbazepine

Antipsychotic medications can also help prevent manic episodes. Some common antipsychotics for BD include:

  • quetiapine
  • olanzapine
  • aripiprazole
  • risperidone

Certain medications may work better than others between individuals, and finding the right combination may take some time. To learn more about medications for BD, a person can speak with a medical professional.

Read more about medications for bipolar disorder.

Antidepressants can help treat certain individuals with BD. However, in most cases, doctors do not recommend taking only an antidepressant for this condition.

Treating BD involves a combination of different medications. People with moderate to severe depression may take antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants.

These individuals generally take antidepressants for a short time. However, they continue taking other medications, such as mood stabilizers, over the long term.

Research has shown that taking an antidepressant may increase the risk of mood switching. This can happen when a person with BD takes only antidepressants. However, it can also occur when taking a combination of mood stabilizers and antidepressants.

Because of this, some doctors do not recommend combining these drugs, though the most effective treatment combination varies between individuals. In some cases, the benefit of an antidepressant may outweigh the risk of mood switching.

Anyone seeking more information about combining these medications can consult a doctor.

Generally, treating BD involves taking medication, but there are also several non-drug treatments. These may be a helpful addition to medication.

One non-drug treatment for BD is talk therapy. Speaking with a licensed therapist may help someone manage depression symptoms and help improve a person’s relationships with themselves and others.

Learning self-management strategies can also prove useful for people with BD. This may involve learning the triggers or signs of a manic or depressive episode. Understanding these signs can make it easier to prevent or manage mood switches.

Other treatment options may include:

Each person may benefit from a unique combination of treatments, so finding the most effective combination may take some trial and error. However, with the right support, it can make all the difference in managing BD.

Individuals may respond differently to medications and other treatments. It may take some time to find the best treatment plan.

Those with BD need to speak with a doctor to learn more. A doctor can help them determine which treatments may be most effective for them.

Under the care of medical professionals, they can then explore medications. They can also try other treatments to find the right combination for them.

Bipolar disorder resources

Visit our dedicated hub for more research-backed information and in-depth resources on bipolar disorder.

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Bipolar disorder (BD) involves switching between high and low moods — individuals with this condition experience both manic and depressive episodes. However, certain medications and other treatments can help manage the symptoms of BD.

In some cases, antidepressants can help individuals with this condition. They may prove especially helpful for people with severe depression. Other drug options for BD include mood stabilizers and antipsychotics.

Non-medication treatments may involve therapy or self-management strategies. To learn more about treatment options for bipolar disorder, a person can speak with a medical professional.