Anxiety & Bipolar Medications

Common Anti-Anxiety Medications:

  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Serax (oxazepam)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • BuSpar (buspirone)

Most of these medications are benzodiazepines, which reduce anxiety by sedating the brain and nervous system. BuSpar acts a little differently, but also has the same calming effect. These drugs generally work very well for treating the symptoms of anxiety. They are addictive, and can cause the patient to go into a coma if combined with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants. 

Other Types of Anti-Anxiety Medications:

  • Compazine (prochlorperazine)
  • Dilantin (phenytoin)
  • Adapin (doxepin)
  • Catapres (clonidine)

These are anti-seizure or sedative drugs, which have been used for people with anxiety disorders because of their sedating effect. Some patients do well with these medications, however, many people report that they do not feel like themselves while on these drugs. These medications can have a profound effect of sedation, and can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, and blurred vision. 

Common Bipolar Medications:

  • Eskalith (lithium carbonate)
  • Lamictal (lamotrigine)
  • Depakote (valproic acid)
  • Tegretol (carbamazepine)
  • Abilify (aripiprazole)
  • Seroquel (quetiapine)
  • Geodon (ziprasidone)
  • Zyprexa (olanzapine) 
  • Risperdal (risperidone)
  • Saphris (asenapine)
  • Latuda (lurasidone)

Bipolar disorder medications can have more serious side effects, because they tend to affect the nervous system and neurotransmitters on multiple levels rather than altering one neurotransmitter at a time. Anti-psychotic medications such as Zyprexa or Seroquel are used to create a sedating effect on patients with mania or schizophrenia. Thus, fatigue is a very common side effect of these drugs.

Lithium is a medication used to stabilize bipolar symptoms. In high doses, it can be used to treat bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, the therapeutic dose is also very close to the toxic dose of lithium, so it is essential to have blood levels of lithium checked regularly to avoid an overdose. Lithium must not be taken during pregnancy, and can cause tremor, nausea, or heart arrhythmias at high doses. This medication is also available in a safer low dose (5-10 mg) as a natural supplement. At this low dose, it has been shown to act as a neuroprotectant, meaning that it can help to protect the brain cells from damage or degradation.

Zyprexa, Abilify, and Seroquel are antipsychotic medications, and effect a combination of serotonin and dopamine. Common side effects of these medications are sedation, emotional “numbness,” restlessness, and tremor. Less common but more dangerous symptoms caused by taking antipsychotic medications include increased risk of suicidal thoughts (especially among teens), potentially permanent involuntary muscle movements, elevated blood sugar, and increased risk of heart attacks or infections in elderly patients with dementia. 

Lamictal is an anti-seizure drug, so it can have similar effects to the atypical anti-anxiety medications listed above. Life-threatening skin rashes, multi-organ failure, and withdrawal seizures have developed in patients taking Lamictal. 

These medications can be very helpful in some cases for people with severe bipolar symptoms, to help them get through the day. For some patients these drugs can work very well, however, other options should be considered, because of the possible risks of side effects.

Conventional medications may help reduce the symptoms of anxiety or depression, but these medications can cause unwanted side effects such as fatigue, restlessness, insomnia – symptoms that people with anxiety or depression usually already have! If you are interested in alternatives to the above medications, there are a variety of natural treatment options that are highly effective for improving your mood and helping you to feel like yourself again. 

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