Mood-Stabilizing Medicines for Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia
The above medicines are taken as tablets or capsules
These medicines are available in syrup, tablet, capsule,
and chewable tablet forms.
How It Works
Mood stabilizers balance certain brain chemicals
(neurotransmitters) that control emotional states and
Why It Is Used
Mood stabilizers can help to treat mania and to prevent the
return of both manic and depressive episodes in bipolar disorder. They may also help for treat the mood problems associated with schizophrenia,
such as depression.
Some of these medicines are also used to treat some types of seizures. They are also known as anticonvulsants.
How Well It Works
Mood stabilizers, especially lithium, valproic acid, and carbamazepine, may provide relief
from acute episodes of mania or depression and can help prevent them from
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor if you have:
Hives, a rash, fever, or swollen glands.
Signs of Stevens-Johnson syndrome, which causes dangerous sores
on the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, genitals, and eyelids.
Common side effects of these medicines include:
Nausea, vomiting, and
Increased thirst and increased
need to urinate.
Weight gain in the first few months of
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects.
(Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Some of these drugs are also called anticonvulsants. The U.S. Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on anticonvulsants and the
risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people
stop using these medicines. Instead, people who take anticonvulsant medicine
should be watched closely for
warning signs of suicide. People who take
anticonvulsant medicine and who are worried about this side effect should talk
to a doctor.
Do not stop taking these medicines
suddenly. You should taper off of these drugs slowly with the help of your
doctor to avoid negative and serious side effects.
Your doctor may want you to have regular blood tests to check your medicine
levels, liver function, and blood counts. Your doctor will need to periodically
test the function of your kidneys and thyroid gland if you are taking
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
Women who use this medicine during pregnancy have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with birth defects. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you and your doctor must weigh the risks of using this medicine against the risks of not treating your condition.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.