Long-Term Effects of Bipolar Disorder Medication

There are almost 6 million Americans aged 18 and older who are affected by bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Bipolar disorder is also called manic-depressive disorder because it causes shifts in mood between depression and mania. There are no means of curing bipolar disorder as of July 2010, but various medications have been developed to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

A woman is suffering from depression. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Arrhythmia and Heartburn

Antipsychotics used to treat bipolar disorder, such as olanzapine, risperidone and quetiapine, may cause unusual or rapid heartbeats, notes the National Institute of Mental Health. Lithium and anticonvulsants can also cause heartburn.

Blurred Vision

Medications such as olanzapine, risperidone and quetiapine are antipsychotics that can impair vision, explains MayoClinic.com.

Diabetes and Cholesterol Problems

Antipsychotic medications may affect metabolism, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and cholesterol problems, explains the National Institute of Mental Health.

Joint or Muscle Pain

Lithium is a form mood-stabilizing bipolar medication that can cause pain in the joints and muscles, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Impaired Muscle Control and Balance

Benzodiazepines and antipsychotics such as olanzapine and quetiapine can impair muscle control and coordination, explains MayoClinic.com. Moreover, bipolar medications such as benzodiazepines may also negatively affect balance and muscle control.

Insomnia and Drowsiness

Antidepressants, antipsychotics and benzodiazepines can cause drowsiness, notes MayoClinic.com. However, antidepressants may also cause insomnia, notes the National Institute of Mental Health. The severity of the effects may vary from person to person.

Liver, Kidney, Thyroid and Blood Disorders

Lithium and anticonvulsants such as valproic acid, divalproex and lamotrigine can negatively affect the liver, kidney, thyroid and blood, explains MayoClinic.com.

Sexual Dysfunction

Long-term use of Symbyax, antidepressants and antipsychotics may cause sexual dysfunction such as decreased libido and difficulties achieving orgasm, explains MayoClinic.com.

Skin-related Problems

Antipsychotics and anticonvulsants such as valproic acid, divalproex and lamotrigine can cause skin problems to arise, according to MayoClinic.com and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Tardive Dyskinesia

Long-term use of antipsychotic medication for treating bipolar disorder can cause tardive dyskinesia, a condition that causes the muscles of the mouth to move involuntarily, explains the National Institute of Mental Health. The severity of the symptoms may range from mild to severe, notes the National Institute of Mental Health.

Weight Gain and Bowel Movement Issues

Some bipolar medications--lithium, antipsychotics and anticonvulsants--may cause weight gain, explains MayoClinic.com. Lithium can also cause diarrhea or constipation, notes the National Institute of Mental Health.

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