Epilepsy Home > Trileptal for Bipolar Disorder

Although Trileptal is approved to treat epilepsy, several studies have looked at the possibility of also using it for bipolar disorder. The results of these studies have been inconsistent, so larger, better-designed studies are needed before the full benefits and risks of treating bipolar disorder with Trileptal are known.

An Overview of Bipolar Disorder and Trileptal

Trileptal® (oxcarbazepine) is a prescription medication approved to treat seizures in people with epilepsy. However, like many other seizure medications, it may also be effective for bipolar disorder.
 
Some studies have shown that Trileptal may be effective for bipolar disorder treatment, although it is not approved for this use. This means that when prescribed for bipolar disorder, Trileptal is being used "off-label."
 

Trileptal and Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a serious brain disease that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and functioning. Currently, it is thought that bipolar disorder may be at least partially genetic (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 bipolar disorder 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.
 
Trileptal is a seizure medication that is closely related to carbamazepine (Epitol®, Equetro™, Tegretol®, Tegretol® XR), an older seizure medication. Since carbamazepine is often effective for bipolar disorder, it seems reasonable to expect that Trileptal would also work for bipolar disorder.
 
Although it is not entirely clear how Trileptal works for bipolar disorder, it is known that it works as a "mood stabilizer," helping to prevent the large changes in mood that occur with bipolar disorder.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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