What Medicine Can Help Treat Manic Depression?

My husband is being treated for severe depression with Zoloft, and Trazadone. He has major mood swings from elation and boundless energy to sleeping for two or three days at a time. He also has periods of paranoia and hostility. Will these drugs control these symtoms? He is wearing me out!

The following answer was largely written by Dr. Arnold Lieber, who has graciously agreed to be my consultant for this psychiatric question.

It’s hard to tell from the limited data here but mood swings with elation and boundless energy bring mania, as in manic-depression, to mind. There are also related conditions charactereized by alternating highs and lows.

While Zoloft, which is a modern antidepressant, is an effective treatment of depression, it doesn’t treat mania and in fact can precipitate or worsen it. Trazadone is also an antidepressant, which is often used for its considerable sedating effect, but is not an effective treatment of mania.

There is effective treatment for the mania and depression of manic depression. Is your husband seeing a psychiatrist with a good grounding in psychopharmacology?

It might be helpful for you to go with your husband to his next appointment and describe to the doctor how you see his behavior,and how it affects you. Your husband may not, either when he is manic or when he is depressed, be able to adequately communicate to his doctor what is going on.

If you don’t think this treatment is helping, arrange for a consultation with a psychopharmacologist, go to the appointment with your husband, and ask to speak to the doctor. If your husband is willing, an effective treatment program should be possible.

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