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West London NHS Trust > Patients and carers > Treatments and medication > Medication > Mood stabilisers

Mood stabilisers

Mood stabilisers are mainly used to treat Bipolar Affective Disorder.

Mood stabilisers help to prevent relapses in bipolar disorder. They can be prescribed in combination with an antidepressant and antipsychotic if clinically indicated.
They include:

  • lithium carbonate
  • anticonvulsant medicines
  • antipsychotic medicines

Episodes of depression are treated slightly differently in bipolar disorder, as the use of antidepressants alone may lead to a hypomanic relapse.
Most guidelines suggest depression in bipolar disorder can be treated with just a mood stabiliser. However, antidepressants are commonly used alongside a mood stabiliser or antipsychotic.
If your GP or psychiatrist recommends you stop taking medication for bipolar disorder, the dose should be gradually reduced over at least four weeks, and up to three months if you are taking an antipsychotic or lithium.
If you have to stop taking lithium for any reason, see your GP about taking an antipsychotic or valproate instead.
More information about the treatment of bipolar disorder

Find out more

For more information and up to date advice about medication, including side effects, visit the Choice and Medication website.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has published leaflets about medication and mental health problems. You can access the information free of charge on their website www.rcpsych.ac.uk.