Having a mood disorder can make anyone’s life difficult. Not being able to control or predict your moods can make it hard to achieve your goals with work and school. It can also negatively impact relationships with family and friends. You may realize you have a mood disorder but wonder, “How do mood stabilizers work?” When used as prescribed and in conjunction with behavioral and talk therapy, they can make a huge difference in your life. When you enjoy calmer waters when it comes to your mood, it causes a positive effect in many areas of your life.

What Are Mood Stabilizers?

Mood stabilizers consist of several FDA-approved medications available by prescription. They help a person dealing with a mood disorder experience more even moods without the unpredictable highs and lows that overtake their lives. When used as prescribed, a mood stabilizer will not necessarily remove any moodiness from a person’s life. Its goal is to level out a person’s emotions so that they experience regular mood cycles.

Common mood stabilizers include:

  • Carbamazepine: common brand names include Carbatrol, Epitol, Equetro, and Tegretol
  • Lithium: common brand names include Eskalith, Eskalith-CR, and Lithobid
  • Divalproex sodium: common brand names include Depakote and Depakote ER
  • Lamotrigine: an anticonvulsant drug that can be used as a mood stabilizer. Common brand names include Lamictal, Lamictal XR, and  Lamictal CD
  • Valproic acid: Common brand names include Belvo, Depakote, Dyzantil, and Convulex 

How Do Mood Stabilizers Work?

Mood stabilizers work by regulating the neurotransmitters in the brain that misfire and cause a problem in regulating a person’s moods. The most common neurotransmitters that malfunction as part of a mood disorder are dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Mood stabilizers help stabilize abnormal activity associated with these neurotransmitters by helping the brain to resume a healthy production of them. In short, they help reduce mood swings as well as prevent manic and depressive episodes. 

A person taking a mood stabilizer may notice a change in their moods shortly after beginning to take it, while others may take weeks or months to feel the full effects. Factors that influence how quickly a medication works include the specific medication, the dosage, and the person’s individual brain chemistry.

What Are Mood Disorders?

Mood disorders are mental illnesses that drastically affect a person’s moods, often causing extreme emotional disturbances they cannot control. The change in mood can last for two weeks or more. The moods can include ones related to joy or mania associated with bipolar disorder, but can also occur as depression, sorrow, and other negative emotions. Mood disorders can happen to people of any age or background.

Mood disorders respond best to a combination of therapy and medication. The question “How do mood stabilizers work?” depends partly on the mood disorder they are being used to treat. The mood disorders clinicians most commonly prescribe mood stabilizers for include:  

  • Bipolar disorder: Referred to as manic depression in the past, this illness causes both emotional highs and lows.
  • Borderline personality disorder: This illness is defined by having unstable moods. 
  • Cyclothymia: This illness often has less intense moods than other mood disorders.
  • Schizoaffective disorder: This is actually a thought disorder, but often responds to the use of a mood stabilizer. This illness impacts a person’s moods and ability to perceive reality.  

While depression can drastically impact a person’s moods, many physicians prefer to use other medications besides mood stabilizers in order to treat it. However, there has been some success in using mood stabilizers to treat major depressive disorder. Factors that influence how quickly a medication works include the specific medication, the dosage, and the person’s individual brain chemistry. Usage should be monitored by a physician. A Physician will monitor any side effects or need to adjust the dosage or try a different medication. 

How Do Mood Stabilizers Work as Part of Treatment?

When a person deals with a mood disorder, treatment professionals often prescribe a mood stabilizer. However, a person proves much more likely to experience an improvement in their moods when they combine medication with other treatment options. Multiple types of therapy can help a person learn to manage their mood disorder. These include individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy

Other options include holistic therapy treatments, such as yoga, massage, meditation, and good nutrition. If the person also struggles with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, getting help for that at the same time as treating the mood disorder can help immensely. A full assessment by a treatment professional can help provide a diagnosis related to a mood disorder, any other mental illness, and any accompanying substance use disorder.

Treatment For Mental Health Disorders in Atlanta, GA

Do you suffer from a mood disorder and want help learning how to control the symptoms? If you are wondering, “How do mood stabilizers work?”, we can help answer your question. New View Wellness in Atlanta offers several types of outpatient therapies that help people dealing with mood disorders, as well as addiction. Our mental health services are administered by experts in the field who know how to treat a variety of mental illnesses.

If you’re ready to take charge of your mental health, let us help you today. Visit our admissions page now and let us design a program that works for your needs.