Explains what mood stabilising drugs are, what they're used for, possible side effects and information about withdrawal.
Initially your doctor's advice is likely to follow the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines, which recommend that:
In the long term, it will depend on how much you feel your medication helps you, and what you and your doctor agree is best.
You might find that you prefer to carry on taking medication for many years, if it helps you remain stable and able to get on with your life. Alternatively you might take medication to start with, but then develop alternative strategies for coping without drugs. You may also have developed your own views about how long you will need to take medication for, based on your past experiences.
"When I am taking lamotrigine, things are generally more stable. I feel calmer and less at the mercy of unpredictable and extreme mood changes. I find it hard to commit to taking medication on a long-term basis, but I know that I would find things easier if I did."
If you decide you want to come off your medication, it's important to do it safely. See our pages on coming off medication for key information and guidance.
There do not appear to be physical withdrawal symptoms with lithium.
However, if you come off lithium too quickly you are very likely to have a rebound manic or psychotic episode and become quite ill, so you need to be cautious, reduce gradually – over at least one month, and much longer if you have been taking it for years.
If relapse occurs, it happens in the first few months after withdrawal and then tails off.
Withdrawal effects associated with anticonvulsants include:
This information was published in February 2015. We will revise it in 2019.
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