How Mood Stabilizers WorkJun 11
Mood stabilizers are medications that are prescribed to help regulate changes in an individual’s mood. According to yourtotalhealth at ivillage.com, they’re mainly utilized to treat bipolar disorder, which is an illness that causes individuals to undergo extreme swings in moods. These changes can range from a manic level to depression. Some of the drugs currently used are particularly effective in treating mixed episodes of swings.
When physicians mention mood stabilizers, they could be referring to a number of drugs. Lithium was the first mood stabilizer used to treat patients suffering from bipolar disorders. It’s often prescribed for mania and is effective in controlling 60 percent of the individuals with that condition. Lithium is marketed under a number of brand names, the most common of which are Cibalilth-S, Eskalith, Lithane, Lithobid, Lithonate and Lithotabs.
A number of anticonvulsant medications are also classed as mood stabilizers. The most frequently prescribed medications include valproate (brand names Depakene, Depakote), carbamazepine (Tegretol, Carbatrol, Epitol), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), lamotrigine (Lamictal), topiramate (Topamax), zonisamide (Zonegran) and gabapentin (Neurontin).
Some physicians stress that it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly how mood stabilizers work. However, yourtotalhealth suggests looking at the possible causes of bipolar disorder in order to figure out how the drugs that control it work.
Researchers believe that brain chemistry plays an important part in how the condition develops. Chemicals known as neutrotransmitters transport messages between nerves. Changes in mood are believed to occur when a lack of regulation in the functions of these transporters occurs. The most popular theory is mood stabilizers work by altering the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain and the response of the receptors of the transmissions they send. Lithium appears to have an effect on the neurotransmitter known as dopamine by interfering with its designated receptors. At the same time, it promotes an increase in levels of serotonin, another neurotransmitter, which generates a positive feeling.
Recent studies have also suggested that mood stabilizers might actually prevent brain cells from dying when stressed.
These drugs can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to build to their highest levels of effectiveness. While they are sometimes prescribed alone, they might also be used with another mood stabilizer, antidepressants or other medication to target specific symptoms such as insomnia. Treatment is frequently a lifelong journey, and some patients respond better to one drug than another.
Sometimes the deciding factor in which drug or drugs to prescribe depends on any other medical conditions the patient has, such as kidney disease. Physicians must consider the potential side effects of mood stabilizers in light of these ancillary conditions.