-- Question: How is carbamazepine (Tegretol) used in the treatment of bipolar disorder? What are the side effects and risks? Do I need any special tests?
Answer: Carbamazepine is an anti-seizure medication also known as a mood stabilizer. It's effective to reduce the mania and sometimes the depression of bipolar disorder. It works by reducing the excitability of nerve cells in that part of the brain that's responsible for mood and motivation.
Now carbamazepine needs to have therapeutic blood levels drawn periodically to make sure it's not causing any degree of anemia. It also can lower other drugs the other person is taking because it competes for the metabolism. So periodic blood test to make sure that the blood count is correct, that the therapeutic level is correct, ensure the carbamazepine can be used safely.