Answer a simple questionnaire to help your doctor understand your symptoms and work toward an accurate diagnosis.

Bipolar depression can be treated

The key to managing bipolar depression is a correct diagnosis. That is because the medicines used for other forms of depression may not work well in bipolar depression. In fact, antidepressants are not FDA-approved as treatment for bipolar depression.

Following is some information on antidepressants and another type of medicine, atypical antipsychotics:

Antidepressants

Antidepressants are an effective treatment for unipolar depression. But there may be significant risks associated with antidepressant use in people with bipolar disorder. These include the risk of triggering mania or hypomania or rapid cycling between high and low moods. And some doctors believe that antidepressants may worsen the long-term outlook for patients with bipolar disorder.

Table 1. Classes of antidepressants and FDA-approved indications*

Antidepressant
Classification
Unipolar Depression
 
Bipolar Depression
 
SNRI
SSRI
TCA
MAOI
Atypical
Antidepressants

* This is not a complete list; to learn about the other types of medicines used for these disorders, talk with your healthcare provider.

Atypical antipsychotics

Atypical antipsychotic medicines may be used to treat different types of bipolar disorder, among other disorders. Three atypical antipsychotic medicines have been specifically approved by the FDA for the treatment of bipolar depression. (See table below.)

Table 2. Atypical antipsychotic medication indications for bipolar I disorder**

Atypical
Antipsychotic
Bipolar
Depression
Bipolar Mania
 
Bipolar
Mixed State
Bipolar
Maintenance
aripiprazole
asenapine
cariprazine
lurasidone
olanzapine
olanzapine and
fluoxetine
hydro-chloride
quetiapine fumarate
risperidone
ziprasidone

** Data as of April, 2016. This is a complete list of atypical antipsychotic medicines that are FDA-approved for the treatment of bipolar depression. It is not a complete list of atypical antipsychotic medicines. To learn more about atypical antipsychotics, the treatment of bipolar I disorder, and the risks associated with these and other medications, talk with your healthcare provider.

Only your healthcare provider can determine if you are (or your loved one is) a good candidate for bipolar depression treatment. Always talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any medication. While manageable, bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness. An effective treatment plan usually includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Ask your doctor about the three FDA-approved treatments for bipolar depression

When you’re treating your depressive symptoms but not getting better, ask your healthcare provider if you could have bipolar depression. You should know, there are medicines specifically approved by FDA to treat bipolar depression. Ask your healthcare provider if one of them could be right for you.

Learn about a treatment option
for bipolar depression