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.

People with bipolar disorder, a disease marked by extreme mood swings between depression and mania, are given a group of drugs called mood stabilizers. These mood stabilizers for bipolar disorder help control mood swings and stop manic or depressed episodes before they happen. Remember that mood stabilizers might not work as well at first. It could take a few weeks. Other mental drugs, like antipsychotics, are sometimes used as well, especially in the beginning stages of treatment for acute manic episodes.

It can be hard to tell the difference between depression in bipolar disorder and other types of depression. Even though antidepressants can help, they should never be used to treat bipolar illness on their own because they can cause manic episodes. This risk can be lowered by taking antidepressants along with mood stabilizers. This also helps stop rapid cycling, which happens when mood events happen more often.

What Are Mood Stabilizer Drugs for Bipolar?

Mood stabilizers are essential medications for managing bipolar disorder. They effectively treat and prevent manic (high) and depressive (low) mood episodes, allowing individuals to maintain their daily functioning, including work, school, and social activities. Some common mood stabilizers include:


Lithium, also known as Carbolith, Duralith, and Lithane, is a natural element found in mineral water and in minimal amounts in people. It is mainly used to treat manic episodes and stop them from happening again, along with sadness. Some of the most common side effects of taking lithium are:

  • Increased thirst and urination.
  • Hand tremors.
  • Weight gain.
  • Kidney-related issues.

Most of the time, these effects are mild and get better as treatment continues. If any of these side effects get worse, though, you need to tell your doctor right away. It’s also important to keep an eye on your thyroid and kidneys regularly since lithium may affect these processes in some people. When someone is dehydrated, the lithium amounts in their blood can rise to dangerously high levels, which is called overdosing.

Eight to twelve cups of drinks should be drunk every day, especially when it’s hot outside or when you’re working out. Intense vomiting, diarrhea, or fever can make you very dehydrated. Stopping lithium use and talking to your doctor right away is very important in this situation. Changing how much salt you eat can also affect your lithium levels, so you shouldn’t go on a low-salt or no-salt diet.


This anticonvulsant medication is a mood stabilizer effective in managing manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder. Common side effects may include:

  • Dizziness.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Gastrointestinal upset.
  • Skin rashes.
  • Liver function monitoring.

Low blood cell counts are a rare but dangerous side effect of carbamazepine. People taking this medicine should have their blood checked regularly to see if this reaction happens. Mouth, gum, or throat pain, mouth ulcers or sores, fever, or flu-like symptoms may be signs of this condition and should be reported immediately to a doctor. If carbamazepine is the cause of these symptoms, stopping the drug usually fixes them.

Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), which is very similar to carbamazepine, may have fewer side effects and drug interactions than carbamazepine, but it hasn’t been tested as much for bipolar disorder.

Divalproex sodium

Divalproex sodium, also known as Depakote, is another anticonvulsant that can stabilize mood and is particularly useful for managing manic episodes. Potential side effects include:

  • Gastrointestinal disturbances.
  • Weight gain.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Hair loss.
  • Liver function monitoring.
  • Platelet count monitoring.

Lamotrigine is often prescribed for the maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder. It can help prevent both depressive and manic episodes. Side effects may include:

  • Skin rashes (potentially severe in rare cases).
  • Dizziness.
  • Headaches.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Gradual dose titration for rash prevention.

Similar to divalproex sodium, valproic acid (Depakene) is used to treat manic episodes in bipolar disorder. Side effects may involve:

  • Gastrointestinal disturbances.
  • Weight gain.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Hair loss.
  • Liver function monitoring.
  • Platelet count monitoring.

Some of these medicines, like carbamazepine, lamotrigine, and valproic acid, are anticonvulsants, which means they are mainly used to treat seizure disorders. Different mood stabilizers work in different ways. For example, lithium works better for controlling manic episodes, while lamotrigine might work better for treating depression.

Mood stabilizers do not stop regular daily mood changes, though. They mainly deal with complete cases of manic or depressive disorders that last for days or weeks.

Along with mood stabilizers, antipsychotic drugs are often given to people with bipolar disorder to help them deal with their manic episodes. Haloperidol and Loxapine are two older choices.

Newer antipsychotic drugs would be:

  • Aripiprazole.
  • Asenapine.
  • Cariprazine.
  • Lumateperone.
  • Lurasidone.
  • Olanzapine.
  • Quetiapine fumarate.
  • Risperidone.
  • Ziprasidone.

These are some of the newer antipsychotic drugs that are also used to treat bipolar disorder. These drugs can help reduce manic symptoms, and they can be used alone or with mood stabilizers.

Do You Need Mood Stabilizers for BPD?

Mood stabilizers are very important for managing bipolar disorder (BPD), a condition marked by extreme mood swings between manic and depressive episodes, and sometimes both at the same time in a mixed state.” These mood-stabilizing drugs are meant to help people keep their moods stable, which is an integral part of managing BPD. Mood stabilizers give people with BPD more freedom to be involved in their relationships and interests by successfully reducing their symptoms.

Medication is usually seen as the most crucial part of treating bipolar illness. For complete health, it’s vital to combine medication with various therapeutic and supportive strategies. BPD can be managed with talk treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, and family-focused education. Support from peers, counseling for school and work, help with housing and finding a job, and living a healthy life with a balanced diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, and less alcohol, caffeine, and drug use are all things that can help people with BPD and improve their general health.

To determine whether you have a Bipolar Disorder, you can take this test:

Antidepressant Withdrawal Timeline

How Long Does Antidepressant Withdrawal Last?

  • In the first days after the antidepressant’s discontinuation, some persons may start to experience symptoms. Among them include headaches, dizziness, agitation, mood swings, and flu-like symptoms. Symptoms typically begin to show up earlier with short-acting antidepressants.
  • During the second week, some patients may have more pronounced mood swings, increased anxiety, and difficulty falling asleep as their symptoms get worse. Additionally, there can be bodily complaints, including nausea and stomach issues.
  • Withdrawal symptoms peak for some people between 2-4 weeks. Anger, worry, and depression are examples of emotional symptoms that might get worse. Physical symptoms like nausea and vertigo might persist.

Four Weeks and Beyond: Over the following several weeks, the symptoms gradually disappear for many people. 

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Anticonvulsants and lithium, bipolar mood stabilizers, are not addictive. These drugs regulate and stabilize bipolar illness mood swings without being addictive or euphoric.
Anticonvulsants and lithium, bipolar mood stabilizers, are not addictive. These drugs regulate and stabilize bipolar illness mood swings without being addictive or euphoric.

Are Bipolar Mood Stabilizers Addictive?

Bipolar mood stabilizers, such as lithium and anticonvulsants, are generally not considered addictive. These medications are used to manage and stabilize mood fluctuations associated with bipolar disorder, and they do not produce the same addictive or euphoria-inducing effects as substances of abuse.

What if I Drink Alcohol or Coffee While I’m on Mood Stabilizing Drugs For Bipolar?

If you have bipolar disorder and are taking mood-stabilizing drugs, you should be very careful about drinking alcohol and coffee.

Alcohol: Mood-stabilizing drugs and alcohol can interact, which could make the medications less effective or cause harmful side effects. It can also create mood swings more likely and make it harder to make decisions. While taking these medicines, it’s best to drink less booze or not at all. Always talk to your doctor about drinking booze and how it might affect the way your medications work together.

Caffeine, which is found in coffee and some other drinks, is a stimulant that can change how you feel and sleep. Many people can safely drink a modest amount of caffeine, but it may make anxiety or insomnia worse, which are common problems for people with bipolar disorder. If you’re sensitive to caffeine’s effects or find that it worsens your symptoms, you might want to cut back on it, especially in the afternoon and evening, to avoid having trouble sleeping.

Will Mood Stabilizers Impact My Driving Abilities Safely?

Mood stabilizers, especially in the beginning stages of treatment, might make it harder for you to respond quickly, making it unsafe to drive or operate machinery. Do not do these things until you get used to the medicine or if you feel less sharp.

Will Mood Stabilizers Affect My Sexual Desire and Performance?

Some people may lose their sexual interest after taking lithium, but this can be different for each person. You should talk to your doctor about this if you notice that your libido has dropped a lot. A change in the dose can sometimes help with this problem.

Some men who take lithium have had trouble keeping an erection or ejaculating, though this doesn’t happen very often. It is important to remember that people with bipolar illness can have sexual problems for several complex reasons that are not related to their medication.

When taken by women, mood stabilizers may change the menstrual pattern. Also, some anticonvulsants, like carbamazepine, may make birth control pills less effective.

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Are Mood Stabilizers For Bipolar Disorder Enough?

For bipolar medication to work best, it needs to be combined with other treatments for bipolar illness, such as:

  1. Therapy: Combining medication with treatment significantly enhances the management of bipolar disorder. Therapy equips individuals with valuable coping tools, helps monitor progress, and addresses the personal and professional challenges posed by bipolar disorder.
  2. Exercise: Regular physical activity can mitigate bipolar disorder symptoms and contribute to more stable mood patterns. Exercise serves as a safe outlet for the excess energy associated with manic episodes.
  3. Consistent Sleep Schedule: Research indicates that inadequate sleep can trigger manic episodes in individuals with bipolar disorder. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and regulating exposure to light and darkness are critical for preventing mood episodes.
  4. Healthy Diet: Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to alleviate bipolar disorder symptoms. Given the common side effects of weight gain with many bipolar medications, adopting a healthy eating regimen is essential for managing weight. It is advisable to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and drugs, as they can have adverse interactions with bipolar medications.
  5. Social Support Network: Living with bipolar disorder can be challenging, making a robust support system invaluable. Engaging in a bipolar disorder support group provides an opportunity to share experiences and gain insights from others. Seek support from loved ones, friends, and family, as their understanding and assistance can make a significant difference in your journey.

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Other Medications for Bipolar Disorder

Apart from the usual mood stabilizer drugs for bipolar disorder, Benzodiazepines, calcium channel blockers, and thyroid drugs are some other medicines that your doctor may think about giving you.


As with other mood stabilizers, benzodiazepines can take a while to work fully. While you’re waiting, your doctor may give you benzodiazepines to help with worry, insomnia, or agitation. Benzodiazepines are sedatives that work quickly. They usually start to work in 30 minutes to an hour. But because they can lead to addiction, these should only be used briefly while your antidepressant or mood stabilizer works. People who have abused drugs in the past should be extra careful.

Calcium Channel Blockers

Usually used to treat heart problems and high blood pressure, calcium channel blockers can also help keep your mood stable. Compared to regular mood stabilizers, they tend to have fewer side effects but aren’t as strong. However, they may be a good choice for people who can’t handle lithium or anticonvulsants.

Thyroid Medicine

People with bipolar disorder often have thyroid hormone levels that aren’t stable, especially those who have rapid cycles. Thyroid levels can also drop when lithium is used for treatment. In these situations, thyroid medicine may be added to the treatment plan. While more study is being done to see how well it works, thyroid medication seems like a good option for treating bipolar depression with few side effects.

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