Valproic acid and lithium are widely used to treat bipolar disorder, a severe illness characterized by cycles of mania and depression. However, their efficacy is limited, and treatment is often accompanied by serious side effects. The therapeutic mechanisms of these drugs are not understood, hampering the development of more effective treatments. Among the plethora of biochemical effects of the drugs, those that are common to both may be more related to therapeutic efficacy. Two common outcomes include inositol depletion and GSK3 inhibition, which have been proposed to explain the efficacy of both valproic acid and lithium. Here, we discuss the inositol depletion and GSK3 inhibition hypotheses, and introduce a unified model suggesting that inositol depletion and GSK3 inhibition are inter-related.