Epilepsy Home > Tegretol for Bipolar Disorder

Although the medication is approved to treat epilepsy and trigeminal neuralgia, using Tegretol for bipolar disorder is not uncommon. This is called an "off-label" use, and while it is not known how Tegretol works to treat bipolar disorder, it is known to be a "mood stabilizer." It's important to remember that the full risks of using Tegretol for bipolar disorder are not known since it is not approved for this use.

An Overview of Tegretol for Bipolar Disorder

Tegretol® (carbamazepine) is a prescription medication approved to treat seizures in people with epilepsy. It is also approved to treat trigeminal neuralgia, a painful nerve disorder. However, like many other seizure medications, it may also be effective at treating bipolar disorder.
 
Some studies have shown that Tegretol may be effective at treating bipolar disorder, although it is not approved for this use. This means that when prescribed for this condition, Tegretol is being used in an "off-label" fashion.
 

Tegretol and Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic depression, is a mental illness that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and functioning. Currently, it is thought that bipolar disorder may be at least partially due to genetic causes (see Bipolar Causes). Bipolar disorder is different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through -- the symptoms of bipolar disorder are more severe.
 
Episodes of mania and depression typically recur throughout the affected person's lifespan. Between episodes, most people with the condition are free of symptoms (see Bipolar Disorder Symptoms). Effective bipolar disorder treatment usually involves a combination of psychotherapy (see Bipolar Psychosocial Treatments) and bipolar medications.
 
Although it is not entirely clear how Tegretol works for bipolar disorder, it is known that it works as a "mood stabilizer," helping to prevent the large changes in mood that typically occur.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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