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Explains what mood stabilising drugs are, what they're used for, possible side effects and information about withdrawal.
Your doctor's decision to offer you a mood stabiliser is likely to depend on:
The drugs that can be prescribed as mood stabilisers have different potential advantages and disadvantages. For example:
"I have a form of bipolar which cycles very quickly, but I'm not psychotic. I was prescribed valproate in a controlled release tablet… It's changed my life."
Depending on your diagnosis and the problems you experience, your doctor might suggest that a combination of a mood stabiliser and another drug might be the best way to manage your symptoms. In this case, they might decide to offer you other kinds of medication as part of your treatment, such as:
"I can't imagine ever being off them, and when I miss a dose I completely lose it. I will always be eternally grateful for the medication I’m on."
It's important to remember that all drugs can affect different people differently.
Although many people find that the benefits of taking a mood stabiliser outweigh any negatives, not everybody does – and your experience will be personal to you. (For ideas to help manage your mood without drugs, see our page on alternatives to mood stabilisers.)
"I have a total distrust of mood stabilisers ... I can’t be doing with the side effects – they flatten my personality and prevent me doing the creative things I love."
All these drugs also have the potential to cause unwanted side effects, or withdrawal effects if you choose to stop taking them. (To learn about about the possible side effects and withdrawal effects these drugs can cause, see our individual pages on lithium, valproate, carbamazepine, lamotrigine and asenapine).
This information was published in February 2015. We will revise it in 2019.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.