How does mood stabilizer work? But what exactly are mood stabilizers? How do they work? In this article, we will explore the biochemical mechanisms underlying such medication, the types of medications available and how they can help improve your overall well-being.
How Does Mood Stabilizer Work?
Mood stabilizing medications are used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety.
These medications work by helping to regulate the brain’s chemistry in order to reduce symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, and impulsivity.
While the exact mechanism of action is not fully understood, it is thought that these drugs work in different ways to bring stability and calm to areas of the brain that have become overstimulated and overactive, or to prevent this state from developing.
Side effects of Mood Stabilizing Medication
Mood stabilizing medications are often prescribed to help manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder, as well as other mental health conditions.
While these medications can be effective in helping to regulate moods and reduce episodes of mania or depression, they can also have some side effects.
The type and severity of side effects vary depending on the medication prescribed, but may include fatigue, weight gain, nausea, dizziness, headaches and blurred vision.
Getting the right dose
When taking medication to treat or prevent bipolar disorder, it’s important to work closely with your doctor to adjust dosage as needed. The dose should be within a range and may change over time, but the right dose can effectively manage the disorder and improve quality of life.
Mood stabilizers may cause side-effects such as drowsiness and weight gain. To prevent these, exercising and eating a healthy diet can help. If the side-effects become severe, talk to your doctor about taking it at a lower dose.
Types of Mood Stabilizing Medication
Lithium, the classic and mostly researched mood stabilizer, is the oldest. Although some drugs initially invented to treat epilepsy also act as mood stabilizers, such as carbamazepine, divalproex, and lamotrigine.
Although gabapentin and topiramate are anticonvulsants that might also serve as mood stabilizers, these are commonly used in combination with additional medicines.
Lithium (lithium carbonate or lithium citrate)
Lithium is a naturally occurring element that is used to treat mania and depression, with side-effects such as increased thirst, urination, nausea, weight gain and trembling of the hands. If any of these effects become severe they should be reported to the doctor.
Divalproex, valproic acid or valproate
Divalproex, also known as valproic acid or valproate, is an anticonvulsant medication used to treat acute manic episodes. It is available in various forms and under different brand names such as Depakene and Epival.
Common side-effects of divalproex include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea and blurred vision. Less common side-effects are vomiting or mild cramps, muscle tremor, mild hair loss, weight gain, bruising or bleeding, liver problems and changes in the menstrual cycle for women.
Carbamazepine (Tegretol) is an anticonvulsant drug used to treat mania and mixed states. Common side-effects may include dizziness, confusion, nausea or vomiting, while rare but dangerous side-effects include decreased blood cell counts. Regular monitoring of blood levels is necessary.
Lamotrigine (Lamictal) is a medication that is commonly used to treat depression in bipolar disorder. It has been found to be the most effective mood stabilizer for this condition, although it may not be as helpful for mania.
When starting lamotrigine, it is important to start with a very low dose and increase it slowly over four weeks or more. This approach helps to reduce the risk of a severe rash, which can be a dangerous side-effect of this drug.
Mood stabilizers are medications used to treat mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. These work by helping to regulate the brain’s chemistry in order reduce symptoms, but they can also have side effects like fatigue and weight gain.
Common types of mood stabilizers include lithium and divalproex which can be taken in various forms and under different brand names.
Side effects may vary depending on the medication prescribed. It is important to get the right dose and discuss any concerns with a doctor before making changes to a treatment plan.