To treat depression in persons with bipolar disorder, psychiatrists may prescribe antidepressants. Generally, the use of antidepressants is limited to treatment during depressive episodes. Once the depressive episode has lifted, the antidepressant gradually is decreased.

One type of antidepressant drug works by affecting the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin helps regulate appetite, sexual behavior and emotions. Medications affecting serotonin levels include fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa), bupropion (Wellbutrin), nefazodone (Serzone) or venlaflaxine (Effexor). SSRIs and Wellbutrin┬ź may be less likely to induce mania and rapid cycling.

Another category of antidepressants is the monoamine oxidase inhibitor. Another type of drug, called tricyclic antidepressants, works by increasing the activity of norepinephrine├╣another brain chemical essential for normal moods. They include amitriptyline (Elavil), desipramine (Norpramin, Pertofrane), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor). These drugs, however, are more likely to cause side effects and have a greater risk of being lethal in an overdose.