||This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2013)|
Used to treat bipolar disorder, mood stabilizers suppress swings between mania and depression. Mood-stabilizing drugs are also used in borderline personality disorder and schizoaffective disorder.
The term "mood stabilizer" does not describe a mechanism, but rather an effect. More precise terminology is used to classify these agents.
Drugs commonly classed as mood stabilizers include:
- Lithium – Lithium is the "classic" mood stabilizer, the first to be approved by the US FDA, and still popular in treatment. Therapeutic drug monitoring is required to ensure lithium levels remain in the therapeutic range: 0.6 or 0.8-1.2 mEq/L (or millimolar). Signs and symptoms of toxicity include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and ataxia. The most common side effects are lethargy and weight gain. The less common side-effects of using lithium are blurred vision, slight tremble in the hands, and a feeling of being mildly ill. In general, these side-effects occur in the first few weeks after commencing lithium treatment. These symptoms can often be improved by lowering the dose.
Many agents described as "mood stabilizers" are also categorized as anticonvulsants. The term "anticonvulsant mood stabilizers" is sometimes used to describe these as a class. Although this group is also defined by effect rather than mechanism, there is at least a preliminary understanding of the mechanism of most of the anticonvulsants used in the treatment of mood disorders.
- Valproic acid (Depakine), divalproex sodium (Depakote), and sodium valproate (Depacon, Epilim) – Available in extended release form. This drug can be very irritating to the stomach, especially when taken as valproic acid. Liver function and CBC should be monitored.
- Lamotrigine (Lamictal) – Particularly effective for bipolar depression. Usual dose is 100–200 mg daily, which can be built up by 25 mg every 2 weeks. The patient should be monitored for signs and symptoms of Stevens–Johnson syndrome, a very rare but potentially fatal skin condition.
- Carbamazepine (Tegretol) – CBC should be monitored, as carbamazepine can lower white blood cell count. Therapeutic drug monitoring is required. Carbamazepine was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as a bipolar disorder treatment in 2005, but had been widely used previously.
- Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal) – Oxcarbazepine is not FDA approved for bipolar disorder. Still, it appears to be effective in about one-half of patients with bipolar disorder and be well tolerated.
- Topiramate (Topamax) is not FDA approved for bipolar disorder, either; and a 2006 Cochrane review concluded that there is insufficient evidence on which to base any recommendations regarding the use of topiramate in any phase of bipolar illness.
- Riluzole (Rilutek) is not FDA approved as a treatment for bipolar disorder. This drug is often used for Lou Gehrig’s disease,but also is a potential candidate for bipolar disorder therapy. Riluzole has been shown to have antidepressant properties in a number of recent studies of mood and anxiety disorders. Riluzole was tested for bipolar depression by Dr. Husseini Manji and colleagues. They gave the drug to 14 acutely depressed bipolar patients alongside lithium for eight weeks. A significant improvement was found, with no evidence of a switch into mania. "These results suggest that riluzole might indeed have antidepressant efficacy in subjects with bipolar depression," say the team. Safety monitoring includes regular liver function tests and people with liver disease such as hepatitis should be monitored especially carefully.
- Gabapentin (Neurontin) is not FDA approved as a treatment for bipolar disorder. Randomized controlled trials suggest that Gabapentin is not an effective treatment, but many psychiatrists continue to prescribe it, it is reported because of positive but "low-quality" literature reviews.
- Some atypical antipsychotics (risperidone, olanzapine, quetiapine, paliperidone, and ziprasidone) also have mood stabilizing effects and are thus commonly prescribed even when psychotic symptoms are absent.
- It is also conjectured that omega-3 fatty acids may have a mood stabilizing effect. Compared with placebo, omega-3 fatty acids appear better able to augment known mood stabilizers in reducing depressive (but perhaps not manic) symptoms of bipolar disorder; additional trials would be needed to establish the effects of omega-3 fatty acids alone.
Sometimes mood stabilizers are used in combination, such as lithium with one of the anticonvulsants.
Relationship to antidepressants 
Most mood stabilizers are purely antimanic agents, meaning that they are effective at treating mania and mood cycling and shifting, but are not effective at treating depression. The principal exceptions to that rule, because they treat both manic and depressive symptoms, are lamotrigine and lithium carbonate. While an antimanic agent such as valproic acid or carbamazepine cannot treat depression directly as the former two drugs can, it is widely thought to help ward off depression in bipolar patients by keeping them out of mania and, thus, preventing their moods from cycling.
Nevertheless, an antidepressant is often prescribed in addition to the mood stabilizer during depressive phases. This brings some risks, however, as antidepressants can induce mania, psychosis, and other disturbing problems in people with bipolar disorder — in particular, when taken alone, but sometimes even when used with a mood stabilizer. Antidepressants' utility in treating depression-phase bipolar disorder is unclear.
Antidepressants cause several risks when given to bipolar patients. They are ineffective in treating acute bipolar depression, preventing relapse, and can cause rapid cycling. Studies have been shown that antidepressants have no benefit versus a placebo or other treatment. Antidepressants can also lead to a higher rate of non-lethal suicidal behavior. Relapse can also be related to treatment with antidepressants. This is less likely to occur if a mood stabilizer is combined with an antidepressant, rather than an antidepressant being used alone. Evidence from previous studies shows that rapid cycling is linked to use of antidepressants. Rapid cycling is when a person with bipolar disorder experiences four or more mood episodes, such as mania or depression, within a year. These issues have become more prevalent since antidepressant medication has come into widespread use. There is a need for caution when treating bipolar patients with antidepressant medication due to the risks that they pose.
Use of mood stabilizers and anticonvulsants such as lamotrigine, carbamazapine, valproate and others may lead to chronic folate deficiency, potentiating depression. Also, "Folate deficiency may increase the risk of depression and reduce the action of antidepressants." L-methylfolate (also formally known as 5-MTHF or Levofolinic acid), a centrally acting trimonoamine modulator, boosts the synthesis of three CNS neurotransmitters: dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Mood stabilizers and anticonvulsants may interfere with folic acid absorption and L-methylfolate formation. Augmentation with the medical food L-methylfolate may improve antidepressant effects of these medicines, including lithium and antidepressants themselves, by boosting the synthesis of antidepressant neurotransmitters.
Antidepressants cause several risks when given to bipolar patients. They are ineffective in treating acute bipolar depression, preventing relapse, and can cause rapid cycling. Studies have been shown that antidepressants have no benefit versus a placebo or other treatment.Antidepressants can also lead to a higher rate of non-lethal suicidal behavior. Relapse can also be related to treatment with antidepressants. This is less likely to occur if a mood stabilizer is combined with an antidepressant, rather than an antidepressant being used alone. Evidence from previous studies shows that rapid cycling is linked to use of antidepressants. Rapid cycling is when a person with bipolar disorder experiences four or more mood episodes, such as mania or depression, within a year. These issues have become more prevalent since antidepressant medication has come into widespread use. There is a need for caution when treating bipolar patients with antidepressant medication due to the risks that they pose.
See also 
- "Texas State - Student Health Center".
- "NIMH and Borderline Personality Disorder".
- Marmol, F. (2008). "Lithium: bipolar disorder and neurodegenerative diseases Possible cellular mechanisms of the therapeutic effects of lithium". Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry 32 (8): 1761–1771. doi:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2008.08.012. PMID 18789369.
- Kozier, B et al. (2008). Fundamentals Of Nursing, Concepts, Process, and Practice. London: Pearson Education. p. 189.
- Ichikawa J, Dai J, Meltzer HY (July 2005). "Lithium differs from anticonvulsant mood stabilizers in prefrontal cortical and accumbal dopamine release: role of 5-HT(1A) receptor agonism". Brain Res. 1049 (2): 182–90. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2005.05.005. PMID 15936730.
- Healy D. 2005 Psychiatric Drugs explained 4th ed. Churchill Liviingstone: London p.110
- Ghaemi SN, Berv DA, Klugman J, Rosenquist KJ, Hsu DJ (August 2003). "Oxcarbazepine treatment of bipolar disorder". J Clin Psychiatry 64 (8): 943–5. doi:10.4088/JCP.v64n0813. PMID 12927010.
- Vasudev K, Macritchie K, Geddes J, Watson S, Young AH. Topiramate for acute affective episodes in bipolar disorder. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD003384. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003384.pub2.
- By JANE COLLINGWOOD.Emerging Bipolar Therapies.http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/emerging-bipolar-therapies/.
- Williams Jr., J. W.; Ranney, L.; Morgan, L. C.; Whitener, L. (2009). "How reviews covered the unfolding scientific story of gabapentin for bipolar disorder☆". General Hospital Psychiatry 31 (3): 279–287. doi:10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2009.02.006. PMID 19410108.
- Bowden CL (2005). "Atypical antipsychotic augmentation of mood stabilizer therapy in bipolar disorder". J Clin Psychiatry. 66. Suppl 3: 12–9. PMID 15762830.
- Mirnikjoo B, Brown SE, Kim HF, Marangell LB, Sweatt JD, Weeber EJ (April 2001). "Protein kinase inhibition by omega-3 fatty acids". J. Biol. Chem. 276 (14): 10888–96. doi:10.1074/jbc.M008150200. PMID 11152679.
- Gao, K.; Calabrese, J. R. (2005). "Newer treatment studies for bipolar depression". Bipolar Disorders 7 (s5): 13–23. doi:10.1111/j.1399-5618.2005.00250.x. PMID 16225556.
- Stephen M. Stahl, MD, PhD. Novel Therapeutics for Depression: L-methylfolate as a Trimonoamine Modulator and Antidepressant-Augmenting Agent. http://www.cnsspectrums.com/aspx/articledetail.aspx?articleid=1267.
- Rao JS, Lee HJ, Rapoport SI, Bazinet RP (June 2008). "Mode of action of mood stabilizers: is the arachidonic acid cascade a common target?". Mol. Psychiatry 13 (6): 585–96. doi:10.1038/mp.2008.31. PMID 18347600.