Antipsychotics for Child and Teen Bipolar Disorder
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These medicines are available in liquid or tablet form.
How It Works
Why It Is Used
Antipsychotics are used to treat manic symptoms, such as reckless and impulsive behavior, and to help stabilize moods. Antipsychotics may be used in combination with other medicines to treat bipolar disorder, like mood stabilizers.
Your doctor may prescribe an antipsychotic for only a short time to help your child deal with immediate symptoms. After other long-term medicines begin to work and symptoms improve, your child may be able to taper off and stop the short-term medicine.
How Well It Works
Medicines for bipolar disorder in adults have been well studied. Early research shows antipsychotics are safe and effective for children and teens with bipolar disorder, but long-term studies are still under way.1
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine your child takes. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with the medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
- Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
- Side effects may go away after your child takes the medicine for a while.
- If side effects still bother your child and you wonder if he or she should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower the dose or change the medicine. Do not suddenly have your child quit taking the medicine unless your doctor says so.
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if your child has:
- Trouble breathing.
- Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor if your child has:
Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is an extremely rare but serious side effect that has been reported by people who take antipsychotic medicines. NMS causes life-threatening problems with your body's ability to regulate its temperatures.
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if your child has a fever and:
- Muscle rigidity.
- Fast or irregular heartbeat.
- Rapid breathing.
- Severe sweating.
Other side effects of antipsychotic medicines include:
- Weight gain.
- High cholesterol or high blood sugar.
- Movement disorders, such as tardive dyskinesia.
Managing side effects
It may take several attempts to find the right dose and medicine to treat your child's bipolar symptoms. Effectiveness and side effects for each medicine vary from person to person.
Some side effects are minor, and you can manage them through lifestyle changes such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and diet changes. Other side effects can be more serious and require changes to the dose or type of medicine.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. If your child takes medicine as your doctor suggests, it will improve your child's health and may prevent future problems. If your child doesn't take the medicines properly, his or her health (and perhaps life) may be at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
If your teen is pregnant or breast-feeding, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm the baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that your teen is pregnant or breast-feeding.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Before your child takes an antipsychotic medicine, be sure to tell your doctor if your child has:
- A heart condition.
- A seizure disorder.
- Problems with liver function.
- Problems with blood pressure.
- Diabetes or high blood sugar.
- A history of breast cancer.
- Problems with swallowing.
- Problems with fainting.
These medicines should be started in low doses. To make sure there are no negative drug interactions, talk with your doctor about any other medicines your child is taking.
Your child may require regular liver tests, blood tests, and blood pressure monitoring while taking an antipsychotic medicine. Your doctor may also monitor your child's weight and blood sugar.
Avoid herbal stimulants (such as ma huang, ginseng, or kola) while taking an antipsychotic medicine.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about drinking grapefruit juice while taking an antipsychotic medicine. Grapefruit juice can increase the level of these medicines in your child's blood. Having too much medicine in your child's blood increases the chances of having serious side effects.
Last Revised: April 10, 2013
Author: Healthwise Staff
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