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Mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and others can practically cripple a person’s quality of life and severely affect their day-to-day ability to function normally, let alone optimally, in society. They estimate that over 40000000 Americans suffer from anxiety disorders (19% have had an anxiety attack in the last year), another 20 million have to deal with mood disorders. According to the nih 6.7% of the population has undergone major depressive episodes, and 4.4% had bipolar disorder.
What is a mood stabilizer?
Doctors group a range of different psychiatric medications into ‘mood stabilizers’; they have very different chemical components but are all used to reduce the frequency of or to stabilize a patients’ mood swings or lability. It licenses them for use as part of the ongoing treatment of conditions that cause intense mood shifts, such as:
- mania and hypomania in manic depression
- severe recurrent depression and anxiety
- depression treatment linked to schizophrenia
- impulsivity and anger issues, anxiety or attempts at self-harm in BPD(Borderline Personality Disorder).
It is important to remember that not all anti depression pills or anxiety pills are mood stabilizers though.
Signs you need mood stabilizer medication
Do problems or emotional distress overwhelm you and stop you from coping or living your life the way you used to? If you experience dramatic or wild swings in your moods, or energy levels and activities, that is not the everyday difficulties everyone experiences, consult with your GP.
Other symptoms include:
- bouts of anxiety, nervousness, feeling unable to cope or function
- impulsivity, overexcitement and acting rash at inappropriate times
- strong feelings of anger and aggression, irritability
- feeling woebegone for long periods
- thoughts or tentaments at self-harm
- disturbances in sleep patterns and sexual activity
- changes in appetite and abuse of stimulants
A thorough medical history and examination should rule out underlying physical conditions and provide a referral to a mental health professional for a proper evaluation. Do not diagnose yourself, or shrug it off as normal, you may seriously compromise your health. Help from a professional can make a huge difference.
It is always safer to have a mental health specialist prescribe the best mood stabilizer, anxiety treatment or depression treatment.
Methods used in the treatment of depression and anxiety
Your health care team will prepare a treatment plan to suit your needs, which may include any of the following therapies:
- Anti-depression medication or pills
- Anti anxiety medications
- Mood stabilizer drugs that will treat anxiety, depression, bipolar and other mood disorders
- Psychotherapy/Talk therapy: patients often find talk therapy tough and may struggle to open up, however, reflecting on your issues and feelings can help highlight and strengthen proper coping mechanisms.
- Daily living improvements: lifestyle changes to diet, exercise and getting enough sleep form an integral part of the treatment plan. connecting with others and exploring your spiritual side, to find joy in the mundane, helps patients remain centered.
- Complementary therapies, e.g. massage, aromatherapy, reflexology have all proven to be beneficial for general stress reduction and calming anxiety.
- Meditation: providers widely use Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s stress-reduction training program based on mindfulness meditation. A good deal of research studies has proven the effectiveness of meditation in relieving anxiety.
- Natural mood stabilizers: Although the results are mixed, they commonly use herbal mood stabilizers such as St. John’s wort and SAMe. These are all over the counter mood stabilizers and natural supplements for anxiety. Others include vitamins B and D, Kava, ginseng, L-treonine, bergamot, ylang-ylang and lavender.
Mood stabilizers list
For Bipolar disorder:
- Natural mineral: such as lithium (liskonum, camcolit, or lithonate (Lithium carbonates) or Li-liquid, litarex, and priadel (Lithium citrates)) – It is the only real mood stabilizer and has strong anti-suicidal properties
- Anticonvulsants: also known as anti-epileptic medications, originally registered to treat epilepsy
– Valproate or Divalproex sodium (Eepilim, Depakote)
– Carbamazepine (Tegretol, Mazepine, Equetro) mostly used for those patients that do not respond to Lithium
– Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal)
- Antipsychotics: Often used in bipolar, either with mood stabilizer drugs or individually.
– Loxapine (Loxitane)
– Loxapine inhaled (Adusave)
– Asenapine (saphris)
– Haloperidol (Haldol)
- Modern antipsychotic drugs include:
– Cariprazine (Vraylar)
– Asenapine (Saphris)
– Aripiprazole (Abilify)
– Ziprasidone (Geodon)
– Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
– Lurasidone (Latuda)
– Quetiapine fumarate (Seroquel)
More modern FDA approved next mood stabilizers for depression:
- Fluoxetine with olanzapine (Symbyax)
- Lurasidone (Latuda)
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Diazepam (Valium)
Mood stabilizers for anxiety
Whilst mood stabilizer drugs mostly treat mood shifting, combining them with benzodiazepines or antidepressants medications will help ease severe anxiety. Anticonvulsants are very effective at treating anxiety, such as:
- Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
- Topiramate (Topamax)
- Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal)
- Gabapentin (Neurontin)
Mood stabilizers Side effects
Patients can experience mild to severe side-effects from any medication. Mood stabilizers often cause dizziness and nausea but can also include side effects such as rashes or swelling of eyes, lips, tongue, slurred speech, vision disturbances, tremors, excessive thirst, increased urination, itching, convulsions or hallucinations.
Precautions to consider before purchasing
Psychiatric medications must be prescribed, preferably by a mental health professional but there are some over-the-counter medications and supplements available. Rule out drugs or disease interactions with your doctor. Do not take alcohol or recreational drugs, do not drive or operate heavy machinery whilst on mood stabilizers. Continuously convey a Lithium endorsement if you take it. Report reactions and don’t cease taking the prescription without allowance. Also, the vast majority of all, never take drug recommended for another person! Store it in a up-and-up place far from warmth, dampness and the hands of little children.