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Top Mood Stabilizers for Bipolar Disorder

Mood stabilizers are drugs that are used to treat bipolar disorder, in which a person’s mood swings from being depressed to being high or “manic,” or vice versa. These medications can lessen mood swings and guard against manic and depressive episodes. Keep reading to learn more about it.

What is Bipolar disorder? Mood Stabilizers For Bipolar

As stated by the American Addiction Centers in the piece ‘Treating Addiction with Severe Bipolar Disorder’, extreme fluctuations in mood and energy levels are the hallmark signs of bipolar disorder, a form of mental illness that causes severe psychological instability. Bipolar disorder involves more than just typical mood swings; it causes dramatic changes in emotional states, cognitive functioning, judgment, and behavior. 

There is a strong connection between Bipolar Disorder and Addiction, people who suffer from this disorder, in an attempt to regulate changes in mood and energy, tend to self-medicate to ease the symptoms of the condition by using drugs or alcohol.

People with bipolar disorder can veer from a depressed state to a manic high in a matter of weeks or even days, depending on the type of the disorder and the nature of their episodes. The effects of bipolar disorder are wide-ranging, causing relationship conflicts, occupational difficulties, an increased risk of suicide, and an overall decline in quality of life.

The incidence of substance abuse is higher among individuals with bipolar disorder than among the population as a whole. The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that over half of people with bipolar disorder (56 percent) have a history of illicit drug abuse, while 44 percent have abused or are dependent on alcohol. 

When severe bipolar disorder co-occurs with drug or alcohol addiction, the potential for negative outcomes increases. A combination of therapies — including psychiatric medications, individual and group therapy, and intensive substance abuse treatment — can help these clients achieve a sense of inner balance and create more satisfying, productive lives.

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

According to the Archives of General Psychiatry, approximately 2.6 percent of American adults have experienced bipolar disorder within any given 12-month period, and nearly 83 percent of these cases could be considered severe. Once known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is characterized by episodes of depression followed by elevated emotional states known as mania. The term “bipolar” reflects these opposite states of mind. 

Types of Bipolar Disorder

The length of time that an individual spends in either state can vary based on the form of the disorder present. The major variations of this condition include:

  • Bipolar I: Individuals with this form of bipolar experience the most dramatic transitions from mania to depression, and mood swings can be sudden and severe. The National Institute of Mental Health states that depressive periods in bipolar I typically last for at least two weeks. The level of functional impairment is high with this form of the disorder, and many of these individuals must be hospitalized in order to protect their safety.
  • Bipolar II: This type of bipolar is characterized by less severe fluctuations between emotional states. Depressive episodes may last longer and alternate with periods of hypomania, a milder form of mania. While it may be easier to function with this less severe form of the disorder, bipolar II can nevertheless interfere with normal activities and cause functional impairment.
  • Cyclothymia: This mood disorder is marked by milder depressive episodes and periods of hypomania. Episodes of depression are generally not as long or as profound as they are with bipolar I or II.
  • Bipolar with mixed features: In this form of the disorder, individuals may experience symptoms of mania and depression at the same time. For example, the individual may have elevated energy levels, sleeplessness, and appetite loss combined with feelings of despair, low self-worth, and sadness.
People with bipolar disorder can veer from a depressed state to a manic high in a matter of weeks or even days, depending on the type of the disorder and the nature of their episodes.
People with bipolar disorder can veer from a depressed state to a manic high in a matter of weeks or even days, depending on the type of the disorder and the nature of their episodes.
  • Rapid-cycling bipolar: This manifestation of the disorder is characterized by multiple, rapidly alternating episodes of mania and depression, usually at last four within a 12-month period. Individuals with other forms of bipolar may go through phases of rapid cycling, in which their moods fluctuate very quickly. During rapid cycling periods, depression may be more severe, and self-destructive behavior and suicide attempts are more common.

JAMA Psychiatry reports that although both depressive and manic episodes are functionally debilitating, depression causes more overall impairment, and the symptoms of depressive episodes are typically more severe. Substance abuse may occur in either state, but depression is likely to cause harmful symptoms such as self-isolation, suicidal ideation, and feelings of hopelessness, all of which increase the risk of alcohol or drug use.

Bipolar Disorder And Addiction can also cause psychotic episodes, in which the mind breaks with reality and the individual experiences delusions or hallucinations. During a manic phase, psychosis might involve delusions of grandeur or wildly unrealistic beliefs about one’s capabilities, such as the belief that one could fly. During a depressive phase, psychosis may express itself as paranoid delusions of persecution or isolation from others. When psychosis occurs, suicide attempts, high-risk behaviors, and hospitalization are common.

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Bipolar Disorder Fact Sheet

Bipolar Overview

A condition characterized by episodes of mood swings that range from manic to depressive highs.
Although the precise origin of bipolar disease is unknown, genetics, the environment, and changed brain chemistry may all be contributory factors.
High activity, a decreased need for sleep, and a loss of reality are all signs of manic episodes.

Low energy, lack of motivation, and a loss of interest in daily tasks are all possible indicators of depressive episodes. Mood swings can linger for days or even months at a time and are sometimes accompanied by suicidal thoughts. The majority of the time, treatment is lifelong and includes both medicine and psychotherapy.

Bipolar Treatments

Therapy: Support group, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Psychoeducation, Family therapy, and Psychotherapy

Medications: Anticonvulsant, Antipsychotic, and SSRIs.

Palliative care: Hospitalization

Bipolar Symptoms

Mood: mood swings, sadness, elevated mood, anger, anxiety, apathy, apprehension, euphoria, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest, or loss of interest or pleasure in activities

Behavioral: irritability, risk-taking behaviors, disorganized behavior, aggression, agitation, crying, excess desire for sex, hyperactivity, impulsivity, restlessness, or self-harm

Cognitive: unwanted thoughts, delusion, lack of concentration, racing thoughts, slowness in activity, or false belief of superiority

Psychological: depression, manic episode, agitated depression, or paranoia

Weight: weight gain or weight loss

Sleep: difficulty falling asleep or excess sleepiness

Also common: fatigue or pressure of speech

Bipolar Disorder Statistics


An estimated 82.9% of people with bipolar disorder had a serious impairment, the highest percent serious impairment among mood disorders.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health


An estimated 4.4% of U.S. adults experience bipolar disorder at some time in their lives.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health


The prevalence of bipolar disorder among adolescents was higher for females (3.3%) than for males (2.6%).

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

What Is The Best Mood Stabilizer For Bipolar?

Generalized anxiety disorder and depression can both have emotional and physical symptoms.
Generalized anxiety disorder and depression can both have emotional and physical symptoms.

What are Bipolar Mood Stabilizers?

Mood stabilizers are drugs that are used to treat bipolar disorder, in which a person’s mood swings from being depressed to being high or “manic,” or vice versa. These medications can lessen mood swings and guard against manic and depressive episodes.

It may take several weeks for mood stabilizers to take full effect. Because of this, the early stages of treatment for acute mania frequently involve the use of other psychiatric drugs, such as antipsychotics.

It might be challenging to tell bipolar depression apart from other types of depression. Antidepressant drugs can be helpful, but they should never be taken by themselves to treat bipolar disorder because they can also make someone who is depressed go from being depressed to being maniacal.

Rapid cycling, often known as more frequent mood swings, can be brought on by antidepressants. If the person is also on a mood stabilizer, this risk is reduced. The following is a list of mood stabilizers for bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Mood Stabilizer List: Mood Stabilizer Drugs for Bipolar

Bipolar Mood Stabilizer: Lithium

Mood stabilizers bipolar: Lithium stands out for its ability to avoid bipolar disorder, but it also has significant advantages that go beyond the list of manic-depressive symptoms. Only this mood stabilizer greatly lowers the chance of suicide and, in addition, lowers mortality in other ways. Lithium actually reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and viral diseases, despite the fact that it is frequently avoided due to toxicity concerns.

These all happen more frequently in bipolar disorder. The most common cause of death in people with bipolar disorder is vascular disease, and viral infections are both a cause (such as STDs) and a consequence (such as inflammatory consequences) of bipolar symptoms.

Lithium typically has the best effects on those with “textbook” or classic bipolar illness. They exhibit full remission in between episodes, a preference for manic symptoms over depressive ones, commencement of the illness in late adolescence, and a family history of bipolar disorder. Although a recent study discovered that co-occurring panic disorders predicted lithium response, they also frequently lack significant mixed states, rapid cycling, and psychiatric comorbidities.

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Mood Stabilizer For Bipolar: Quetiapine

Lithium does not cover the same ground as quetiapine. Lithium is favored for the purer, euphoric highs, while it is more effective against mixed manias. It performs better during severe depression episodes as well. Although quetiapine cannot make the same medical claims as lithium, it does help with two symptoms that patients find particularly distressing: insomnia and anxiety.

Terrence Ketter’s examination of the numbers needed to treat (NNT) for long-term maintenance showed that it does offer the best protection against both disease poles, despite the fact that its long-term side effects make me uneasy.

Mood Stabilizers For Bipolar 2: Lurasidone (Latuda) and Lamotrigine (Lamictal)

These two mood stabilizers for bipolar disorder fill a distinct niche in the treatment of bipolar disorder. However, lamotrigine is the better-tolerated choice, with fewer of the side effects that matter most to patients: weight gain, weariness, sexual dysfunction, and long-term medical risks. Lurasidone has a number required to treat (NNT) of 5 compared to lamotrigine’s 12.6. Depression is more effectively treated by lamotrigine than it is prevented.

There is some indication that lamotrigine is more effective than bipolar I in bipolar II condition, which is characterized by frequent cycles of depression. Some specialists recommend it for cyclothymic disorder’s erratic mood swings, and I’ve found it effective there as well. During the first three months of treatment, when Stevens-Johnson syndrome and other potentially fatal allergic responses can happen at a rate of roughly 1 in 130,000, lamotrigine poses the greatest risk.

Atypical antipsychotics like lurasidone may not have a good track record for long-term tolerability, but they can act fast to help patients recover from severe episodes. Cariprazine (Vraylar), lurasidone (Latuda), olanzapine-fluoxetine combination (Symbyax), and quetiapine are the medications used to treat bipolar depression (Seroquel). Lurasidone among them provides a decent compromise between effectiveness and tolerability. Because quetiapine is less likely to cause nausea, akathisia, cost, or lack of proof in mania, patients who cannot tolerate either drug will frequently tolerate the other. Lurasidone has similar drawbacks.

Best Mood Stabilizer For Bipolar

Mood stabilizers for bipolar depression: In order to match the mood stabilizer to the patient, opposing objectives must be balanced. Each one stands out in a different way, whether it be for tolerance, treating comorbidities, or having advantages in cases of depression, mania, or maintenance phase. These four treatments together cover a lot of ground, but you must also know how to apply them. The following installment addresses it.

Natural Mood Stabilizers for BPD

Adaptogens, exercise, nutrition, meditation or mindfulness, omega-3 fatty acid, and vitamin D are some examples of natural mood stabilizers.

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Mood Stabilizers For BPD

The symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD), particularly emotion dysregulation and impulsive symptoms, can be effectively managed with mood stabilizers.

Although psychotherapy is still regarded as the most significant method of treatment, these psychiatric prescription drugs are increasingly used for persons with BPD.

For those with BPD, a variety of drugs are prescribed as mood stabilizers. Anticonvulsant drugs, also known as seizure medications, are frequently prescribed for their ability to stabilize mood. Examples comprise:

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Mental health services We Level Up FL creates a treatment plan that addresses the physical aspects of chemical imbalances through anxiety therapy.
  • Tegretol, Equetro (carbamazepine)
  • Lamictal (lamotrigine)
  • Trileptal (oxcarbazepine)
  • Topamax (topiramate)
  • Depakote (valproic acid, divalproex sodium)

Lithobid (lithium carbonate) is an anticonvulsant mood stabilizer that has been a mainstay of treatment for bipolar disorder for years. 

Effectiveness of BPD Mood Stabilizers

Despite the paucity of research, it seems that mood stabilizers can effectively treat some BPD symptoms. The drug lithium has received the greatest research. Lithium is useful in lowering impulsivity and aggression and has an anti-suicidal impact, according to decades of studies.

Other anticonvulsant mood stabilizers may help treat mood and emotional symptoms in BPD, according to some research, and an additional therapeutic option is provided by a separate class of medicine known as atypical antipsychotics.

Best Mood Stabilizer For BPD

Depending on the sort of mood stabilizer you’re taking, there may be different risks and adverse effects from these drugs. For instance, every anticonvulsant mood stabilizer has a distinct set of side effects.

Lithium carbonate may result in weight gain, acne, tremors, gastrointestinal trouble, such as nausea and vomiting, as well as cognitive issues (for example, feeling that your thinking is slowed or fuzzy). Blood tests are necessary to check your kidney and thyroid function while you are on lithium because they can also impact those organs. High doses of lithium can potentially be quite harmful.

Anticonvulsants may also cause gastrointestinal issues, weight gain, rashes, exhaustion, and disorientation as adverse effects. Additionally, there is a chance that some of these drugs will cause uncommon but severe side effects.

People taking carbamazepine, for instance, must be watched for the potential emergence of agranulocytosis, a rare condition characterized by a marked decrease in white blood cells. A concern with some anticonvulsant mood stabilizers for BPD is toxicity.

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We Level Up Dual Diagnosis Treatment

The exact definition of dual diagnosis (also referred to as co-occurring disorders) can differ between institutions.  However, it is generally described as the specific treatment of someone who has been diagnosed with a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder at the same time.

Treating dual-diagnosis clients is a critical aspect of our inpatient treatment experience because co-occurring disorders are strongly correlated with instances of substance abuse. Creating a treatment plan that addresses the physical aspects of withdrawal, the psychological connection with drug use, and managing underlying mental health disorders is part of setting clients up for success. 

A thorough mental health analysis identifies possibilities for treatment.  Meeting with mental health counselors and medical care providers means access to behavioral therapy and medication treatment.

At our dual diagnosis treatment center, We Level Up can implement the highest quality of care. We recognize the fragile complexities of how mental and substance abuse disorders can influence others and sometimes result in a vicious cycle of addiction.  That’s why we offer specialized treatment in dual-diagnosis cases to provide the most excellent chance of true healing and long-lasting recovery.

It can be challenging to accept that you may be living with a mental illness, but once it is properly diagnosed and treated, treating the presenting case of substance abuse can be magnitudes easier. Only a properly trained medical professional can diagnose these underlying conditions.  If you believe you are suffering from a disorder alongside addiction, we urge you to seek a qualified treatment center to begin your journey to recovery. Call We Level Up today.

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