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Best Mood Stabilizers: Natural and Conventional

Mood swings are a common occurrence in middle-aged women and have numerous causes from hormonal imbalance to vitamin deficiency to mental health illnesses, such as bipolar disorder. Depending on the cause, mood swings can be stabilized either conventionally with medications or naturally with several nutritional and herbal supplements. 

Choosing between the conventional and natural mood stabilizers might be challenging for some women, because of the varying degree of their effectiveness, side effects, or possible heavy metal content in various plants. Continue reading to learn about the available mood stabilizers.

Best Mood Stabilizers: Natural and Conventional

Conventional Remedies

There are three classes of psychiatric drugs, called mood stabilizers: lithium, anticonvulsants, and antipsychotics. The most common medication regimens for mood swings initially begin with lithium and might be complemented with other medication along the way if shown insufficient. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) might also be prescribed in certain cases.  

Lithium

It is considered the go-to treatment in managing mood disorders, particularly effective in treating the manic and depressive cycles of bipolar disorder. It also has strong anti-suicidal effects, and it is very inexpensive

Anticonvulsants 

They are prescribed either in severe cases of mood swings, often in addition to lithium, or when women are intolerant to lithium. Anticonvulsants can effectively stabilize the mood, but they might cause a significant weight gain among other side effects. The most common types include:

  • Valproate
  • Carbamazepine
  • Oxcarbazepine 
  • Lamotrigine

Antipsychotics

It is the least common class of mood stabilizers, but it has been shown effective in treating mood swings, especially in combination therapy with lithium. Antipsychotics are not recommended for elderly women with dementia-related psychosis. They include:

  • Risperidone
  • Olanzapine
  • Quetiapine
  • Ziprasidone 

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

It is not a class of mood stabilizers, but it can be effective in controlling mood swings due to hormonal imbalance during menopause. It is typically prescribed when other menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, are also present. It has been linked to serious side effects, so caution is advised. 

Natural Remedies

Several plants are classified as adaptogens, which means they exhibit mood stabilizing properties. Their exact mechanism of action is not always understood, but they are believed to enhance mood by regulating hormones, reducing stress and anxiety, or alleviating depression. In most cases, they do not stabilize moods as fast as the conventional remedies, but typically cause less side effects if any.

Hormone regulators

They nourish the endocrine glands and help balance the levels of estrogen and progesterone, whose fluctuation has been linked to mood swings. They include: 

  • Phytoestrogens such as ginger and black cohosh
  • Hormone-regulating supplements

Stress and anxiety reducers

These herbs have been shown to reduce cortisol levels, thus lowering stress and stabilizing the mood. They also promote calmness and relaxation. The most common examples are:

  • Winter cherry 
  • Schizandra
  • Kava kava 
  • Lemon balm

Antidepressants

Some herbs are believed to increase the serotonin levels and reduce inflammation and the oxidative stress, thus preventing mood drops and alleviating depressive states. Their examples include:

  • St. John's wort
  • Thodiola rosea
  • Curcumin

Nutritional supplements

Mood swings, as well as a tendency for depression or suicide, are often caused by deficiencies of the following nutrients, which can be replenished with food sources, such dairy, fish, or legumes, or taken as supplements:  

  • Vitamins B-complex (i.e; especially B9)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium 
  • Vitamin D 
  • Choline 
  • Tryptophan

It is worth mentioning that proper diet with rich protein sources have also been associated with mood improvements and should be a part of any mood treatment, whether conventional or natural. Before taking any mood stabilizers, talk to your doctor to ensure they are right for you. If you want to gain more control over your mood swings, consider some alternative mood management methods to complement your medication regimen.

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Sources:
  • Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. (1999). Anticonvulsant drugs in bipolar disorder. Retrieved September 1, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181564/
  • Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience. (2004). What exactly is a mood stabilizer? Retrieved September 1, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC383340/
  • Neuropsychiatry Disease and Treatment. (2013). Mood disorders and complementary and alternative medicine: a literature review. Retrieved September 1, 2017 from
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23700366
  • Neuroreport. (2016). Mechanisms underlying the benefits of anticonvulsants over lithium in the treatment of bipolar disorder. Retrieved September 1, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26702549
  • PsychEducation. (2014). Mood stabilizers. Retrieved September 1, 2017 from http://psycheducation.org/treatment/mood-stabilizers/
  • Sumegi, A. (2008). Mood stabilizers-past, present, and future. Retrieved September 1, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18771018