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Is it safe to take Zyprexa for bipolar disorder?

Zyprexa (olanzapine) has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to help treat bipolar disorder, a mental illness that causes extreme fluctuations in mood -- from periods of deep depression to episodes of manic behavior. It's in a class of medications called atypical antipsychotics, which act on brain chemicals that affect emotions and mood. These drugs can have potentially serious side effects, so if your doctor prescribes Zyprexa for you, make sure that he or she goes over them with you and that you discuss any other health conditions and medications you take.

Zyprexa is my "go-to" drug for acute mania or acute agitated mixed states in people with bipolar disorder. It is highly sedating, and therefore can be used to get the manic patient sleeping. This usually breaks the mania quickly. In my experience, it has a low incidence of extrapyramidal side effects (EPS) or akathisia. However, it has a strong propensity toward promoting weight gain. Not all patients gain weight on it, but those who are likely to experience this side effect usually declare themselves in the early weeks of treatment by showing an astonishing rate of weight gain.

While it does not have the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the depressed phase of bipolar disorder, my experience is that it often treats the symptoms of depression or of mixed states quite effectively. The dosage of Zyprexa in adults can vary from as little as 5 mg at bedtime to 10 mg twice a day, or even higher.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.