Sleeping tablets

From time to time people with bipolar suffer from sleep difficulties. Managing your sleep by keeping regular patterns and habits will aid good sleep. This is essential in keeping your moods stable.

Avoiding stimulants like coffee in the afternoon and evening is a good example. If you are struggling to sleep it may be wise to take a sleeping tablet with your doctor’s agreement as when you have bipolar you can become more sensitive to sleep loss.

Your doctor may be cautious about giving you too many sleeping tablets too often as they can become addictive. When stopping them you may have difficulty sleeping for a night or two and have vivid dreams. The most commonly used sleeping tablets are zolpidem and zopiclone.

Anxiety medications

Anxiety problems with bipolar are common. Generalised anxiety, panic attacks and social anxiety are all more common in people with bipolar than in those without the illness. Anxiety problems are more likely just before, during or after a period of instability of mood.

Most of the medications used to treat bipolar may help anxiety. However some of the side effects may make it worse or may seem like anxiety. For example some antipsychotics can induce a restlessness called akathisia (Greek for “can’t sit still”).

It is important to report your symptoms in detail to your doctor so he/she may provide the right treatment. There are many psychological and other non-medication treatments for anxiety. Commonly used medications include antidepressants, beta-blockers, valproate and gabapentin.

How do they work?

They have a varied mechanism but benzodiazepines act like a key on large receptors on the surface of brain cells causing the cells to be less likely to activate, therefore mildly sedating them