As a patient, your role in the management of your treatment plan is critical to its success. It is important to stay in touch with your healthcare provider and inform him/her of any concerns about symptoms or side effects. Visit Talking with your healthcare provider for ideas on how to get the most out of your healthcare appointments by recording and discussing your symptoms and side effects.

If you are diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder or a related illness, your healthcare provider may suggest medication as an initial course of treatment, possibly in combination with psychotherapy. This is to address the changes in brain neurotransmitters and proteins, the “chemical messengers” usually associated with the onset of mood disorders. Most people find that the benefits of taking antidepressants or other medications outweigh their side effects, improving their mood and providing relief from symptoms. As scientists continue to learn more about how depression and bipolar disorder affect the brain, they are working to develop promising new medications, giving additional hope to all individuals suffering from depression and bipolar disorder.

Three of the most commonly-used classes of medications for the treatment of depression and bipolar disorder will be discussed here: antidepressants, mood stabilizers and atypical antipsychotics.