Mood stabilizers: Uses, most common brand names, and safety information
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Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes changes in mood, energy, concentration, and your ability to carry out normal daily activities. It is a mood disorder characterized by periods of high energy and happiness and low energy and depression. It is estimated that 2.8% of adults in the United States had bipolar disorder in the past year and 4.4% will experience it at some point in their lives. Mood stabilizers are typically used along with other medications such as antidepressants to help treat the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
The list below includes mood stabilizers approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and their pricing:
List of mood stabilizers
Lithobid (lithium carbonate)
Lithobid is indicated to treat bipolar disorder.
Tegretol is indicated to treat epilepsy, nerve pain, and bipolar mania.
Tegretol XR (carbamazepine)
Tegretol XR is indicated to treat epilepsy, nerve pain, and bipolar mania.
Depakote (divalproex sodium)
Depakote is indicated to treat mania, epilepsy, and migraine prophylaxis.
Depakote ER (divalproex sodium)
Depakote ER is indicated to treat mania, epilepsy, and migraine prophylaxis.
Lamictal is indicated to treat seizure disorder and bipolar disorder.
Lamictal XR (lamotrigine)
Lamictal XR is indicated to treat seizure disorder and bipolar disorder.
Lamictal ODT (lamotrigine)
Lamictal ODT is indicated to treat seizure disorder and bipolar disorder.
Depakene (valproic acid or valproate)
Depakene is indicated to treat seizures, migraine, and bipolar mania.
Trileptal is used off-label to treat bipolar disorder.
Neurontin is used off-label to treat bipolar disorder.
Topamax is used off-label to treat bipolar disorder and alcohol dependence.
Abilify is indicated to treat schizophrenia, bipolar mania, and major depressive disorder.
Abilify Maintena (aripiprazole)
Abilify Maintena is indicated to treat schizophrenia, bipolar mania, and major depressive disorder.
Abilify Mycite (aripiprazole)
Abilify Mycite is indicated to treat schizophrenia, bipolar mania, and major depressive disorder.
Risperdal is indicated to treat schizophrenia, bipolar mania, and bipolar disorder.
Seroquel is indicated to treat schizophrenia, bipolar I disorder, and major depressive disorder.
Seroquel XR (quetiapine)
Seroquel XR is indicated to treat schizophrenia, bipolar I disorder, and major depressive disorder.
Vraylar is indicated to treat schizophrenia and bipolar I disorder.
Zyprexa is indicated to treat schizophrenia, bipolar mania, and bipolar depression.
Zyprexa Relprevv (olanzapine)
Zyprexa Relprevv is indicated to treat schizophrenia, bipolar mania, and bipolar depression.
Zyprexa Zydis (olanzapine)
Zyprexa Zydis is indicated to treat schizophrenia, bipolar mania, and bipolar depression.
Lybalvi is indicated to treat schizophrenia and bipolar I disorder.
Latuda is indicated to treat schizophrenia and bipolar depression.
Geodon is indicated to treat schizophrenia and bipolar I disorder.
Clozaril is indicated to treat schizophrenia.
Saphris is indicated to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
What are mood stabilizers?
Mood stabilizers are a class of medications that are used if you have mood swings such as mania, hypomania, or depression. These mood swings are different than the normal ups and downs everyone has. The clinical effects of lithium were discovered in the 1940s and it was the first widely used mood stabilizer.
Mood stabilizers are used to treat the symptoms of manic episodes and depressive episodes as well as prevent future bipolar episodes. They are only one part of bipolar treatment, which can also include other types of medications as well as talk therapy. There are several types of medications that are used for the treatment of bipolar disorder, including anticonvulsants and atypical antipsychotics.
How do mood stabilizers work?
Mood stabilizers work according to the class of medication that is used. It can take several weeks for mood stabilizers to reach their full effect. The 3 major types of mood stabilizers include:
- Lithium. Lithium is often used as the first-line treatment for episodes of mania. It can be used to achieve remission from mania and prevent further episodes. Your doctor should monitor your lithium levels to ensure they stay within your therapeutic range and prevent toxicity. Although lithium has been used for over 70 years, its mechanism of action is not known.
- Anticonvulsant medications. Anticonvulsants, also called antiepileptics, were originally approved to treat epilepsy. They work by altering electrical activity in the brain or by altering chemical transmission by affecting neurotransmitters. They are often prescribed for people who have mood episodes such as rapid cycling, which is 4 or more episodes of mania and depression in a year.
- Antipsychotic medications. Antipsychotics are typically used to treat paranoia and hallucinations associated with conditions such as schizophrenia. They are often used alone to treat hypomania or bipolar depression. It is thought that antipsychotics work by increasing the levels of dopamine and serotonin in your brain.
What conditions are mood stabilizers used to treat?
Mood stabilizers are a class of medications used in the treatment of acute episodes of bipolar depression, mania, and hypomania. They are also used in the maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder and the treatment of schizoaffective disorder when it is the bipolar type.
Are mood stabilizers safe?
The use of mood stabilizers is relatively safe and effective when taken as prescribed. Lithium is cleared through the kidneys so it may not be safe to give if you have severe kidney impairment. It also should not be used during pregnancy or in patients with heart failure. Depakene (valproic acid) should be avoided during pregnancy and may cause serious fatal hepatotoxicity (liver damage). Lamictal (lamotrigine) and Tegretol (carbamazepine) can both cause a serious skin condition called Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Antipsychotics can cause an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. They also increase the mortality (death) rate in elderly patients.
What are the common side effects of mood stabilizers?
The adverse effects you experience from mood stabilizers will depend on several factors including the medication and dose. The most common adverse effects include:
- Thyroid problems
- Weight gain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Heart problems such as high blood pressure
- Liver or kidney impairment
- High blood sugar
- Rash and other skin conditions
- Parkinson’s symptoms such as tremors
This is not a complete list of side effects and we encourage you to consult with your healthcare provider or mental health professional for medical advice about any possible side effects.
What are the top mood stabilizers?
The top mood stabilizers, according to Psychiatric Times, are Lithobid (lithium), Seroquel (quetiapine), Latuda (lurasidone), and Lamictal (lamotrigine).
How much do mood stabilizers cost?
Mood stabilizers are very expensive with an average cost up to $5,000 per year for the brand name medication.
You can purchase mood stabilizers for $49 per month from NiceRx if eligible for assistance. Prices at the pharmacy vary by location, strength, and quantity, as well as your insurance status.
Related resources for mood stabilizers
The content on this website is intended for information purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. The information on this website should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always speak to your doctor regarding the risks and benefits of any treatment.