Bipolar disorders in adults: Pharmacological treatment (adults 3 of 3


Bipolar disorders are recurrent, chronic mood disorders characterised by periods of elevated mood and periods of depression.

Medication is a mainstay of treatment and is used to manage acute episodes and for ongoing relapse prevention, which is also referred as prophylaxis. The aim of acute-phase treatment is remission of symptoms. In the longer term, the aim is to achieve a medication dose and combination that is effective and well tolerated.

There are 3 modules in this series:

  • Module 1, covers the various types, presentations, and components of bipolar disease, and the assessment required for diagnosis in adults.
  • Module 2 covers the management of bipolar disorders in adults.
  • Whilst this module, Module 3 discusses the characteristics of the pharmacological treatment used in bipolar disorders in adults. It is not designed to take the place of expert knowledge or the use of a medicines handbook for prescribing (medication choice and dose). It aims to help primary health care practitioners understand the medications better and support patients in their use.

This module is aimed at primary health care practitioners currently or potentially working with patients with bipolar disorders in either primary or secondary care settings.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • List medication types commonly used to treat bipolar disorders.
  • Recognise important side effects of medications used to treat bipolar disorders.
  • Explain important factors that patients should know about the medication they are using.

Other Modules to Explore