For many with bipolar disorder, medication will be an ongoing part of treatment. This is because at present there is no known cure for bipolar disorder. With a cure, like taking an antibiotic for pneumonia, there is a definitive end to taking the medication; the infection clears up and you stop. With many other medical conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and bipolar disorder, treatments are used to keep the symptoms under control. When the medications are stopped the underlying condition is still there.
Key factors that will impact how long people need to remain on medications, and which medications they’ll need to take, are their history and symptoms. It’s quite typical for someone who is manic to use both a mood stabilizer and an antipsychotic. As the mania goes away, the antipsychotic is frequently tapered off over the course of a few months, while the mood stabilizer(s) will be continued to prevent a recurrence of symptoms. For some, maintenance therapy will involve the ongoing use of multiple medications.