NAMI - National Alliance on Mental Illness Home | About NAMI | Contact Us | En Espanol  | Donate  
  Advanced Search  

Sign In
Register and Join
What's New
State & Local NAMIs
Advocate Magazine
NAMI Newsroom
NAMI Store
National Convention
Special Needs Estate Planning
NAMI Travel


Print this page
Graphic Site
Log Out
 | Print this page | 

My son has bipolar disorder and is mostly depressed. He did not tolerate Lamictal (lamotrigine) or Seroquel (quetiapine). What are some other options for treatment?

When exploring treatment options in children diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it is important to remember each child is different, and may respond to different medications. Some children may need more than one medication to control their symptoms of bipolar disorder. There are many different types of medications used to treat acute manic episodes, acute depressive episodes, as well as maintenance medications for bipolar disorder. Both "mood stabilizers" and "atypical antipsychotics" are medications used in children and adults although some of them are not approved by the FDA for children. The atypical antipsychotics Abilify® (aripiprazole), Risperdal® (risperidone) and  Seroquel® (quetiapine) are FDA approved for bipolar disorder in children 10 to 17 years of age while Olanzapine (Zyprexa) is approved in children with bipolar disorder 13 to 17 years. Lithium, which is considered a mood stabilizer is also approved in children with bipolar 12 to 17 years of age. Other mood stabilizers are agents such as Tegretol® (carbamazepine), Depakote® (divalproex), and Lamictal® (lamotrigine); however, these are not FDA approved for the treatment of youths with bipolar disorder.

Currently, there are not any treatment guidelines for children diagnosed with bipolar depression. Based on studies in adults, lithium is recommended as one treatment option for children with bipolar depression. Other mood stabilizers, such as Depakote (divalproex) and Lamictal (lamotrigine) have also shown benefits but are not FDA approved. In some cases, an antidepressant may be added after a child has been taking a mood stabilizer. Please check out the medication fact sheets on to learn more about each of these medications. It is important to discuss treatment options with your child's doctor, and to understand the risks and benefits of each medication. Some children may also benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or other types of psychotherapy in addition to medications.

Author: Meghan Morgan, PharmD, BCPP


  1. Kowatch RA, Fristad M, Birmaher B, et. al. Treatment guidelines for children and adolescents with bipolar disorder: child psychiatric workgroup on bipolar disorder. J Am Acad Chil Adolesc Psychiatry. 2005; 44:213-235.
  1. Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens.


 | Print this page | 


Support NAMI to help millions of Americans who face mental illness every day.

Donate today

Speak Out

Inspire others with your message of hope. Show others they are not alone.

Share your story

Get Involved

Become an advocate. Register on to keep up with NAMI news and events.

Join NAMI Today
Home  |  myNAMI  |  About NAMI  |  Contact Us  |  Jobs  |  SiteMap

Copyright © 1996 - 2011 NAMI. All Rights Reserved.