Abnormal Psychology: Mental Health and Mental Illness


What are mood stabilizers?

Mood stabilizers help patients with bipolar disorder avoid the highs of mania and the lows of depression. They literally stabilize the mood. The most common mood stabilizers are lithium, valproic acid (Depakine), and carbamazepine (Tegretol). It remains a bit of a mystery how mood stabilizers work. Unlike the other classes of psychiatric drugs, mood stabilizers are not clearly linked to specific neurotransmitters. Some mood stabilizers alter the sodium channels in the cell membrane and some seem to work on the GABA neurotransmitter system. Most mood stabilizers also function as antiseizure medications (anticonvulsants), including carbamazepine and valproic acid. Additional antiseizure medications that are used to stabilize mood include gabapentin (Neurontin), lamotrogine (Lamictal), and topiramate (Topamax). Mood stabilizers also treat agitation and impulsivity.


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