Explains how lithium and other mood stabilising drugs work, how they might help you, whether to take them if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, and what alternative treatments are available.
Managing a condition like bipolar disorder without mood stabilisers can be challenging. But medication isn't right for everyone. You might find that you want to explore other ways to manage your mood. This could be alongside taking medication, or instead of it.
These are some of the common alternatives to taking mood stabilisers:
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines for bipolar disorder recommend the following kinds of talking therapy for managing bipolar disorder:
"I'd taken mood stabilisers for many years and they just stopped me feeling anything. That's not the way forward [for me]. I have been off them for some years now and with the help of a therapist I'm having to learn to feel again!"
You could try keeping a diary of how you feel from day to day, to help spot patterns in your mood swings over time. This could help you learn how to avoid situations which you know might trigger an episode of depression or mania in future.
See our page of useful contacts for links to mood diaries online.
Peer support allows you to make connections with people who have similar or shared experiences to yours. If you’d like to try peer support, you could:
See our pages on peer support for more information.
This information was published in June 2020. We will revise it in 2023.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.