Mood stabilisers - Side effects
Are there any side effects?
If you take mood stabilisers you may find that you get side effects. Some side effects may only last for a short time or become easier to cope with. If you are worried about the side effects of your medication, speak to your doctor. Sometimes a lower dose or changing your medication will reduce side effects.
Side effects of lithium
Most side effects are directly related to how much lithium is in the blood stream. These are some common side effects of lithium:
- upset stomach
- hand movement or shaking
- feeling thirstier and needing to pass urine more frequently
- skin conditions such as psoriasis and acne can be aggravated by lithium
- weight gain
You should get regular blood tests to make sure you have a safe level of lithium in your blood.
Taking lithium can change the amount of salt in your body. This can lead to higher levels of lithium which can cause poisoning. This can be made worse by going on low salt diets, not drinking enough water or other medications. If you would like more advice about this, speak to your doctor.
Side effects of valproate
Valproate can cause:
- stomach upset and feeling sick
- weight gain
- hair loss
In women, valproate can cause increased testosterone levels. This can lead to periods stopping and abnormal hair growth.
Valproate may be linked to a condition called polycystic ovaries in women. This can affect how the ovaries work, which can cause symptoms including excessive body hair, irregular periods, problems getting pregnant or acne. Most side effects are worse if you need a high dose.
If you are pregnant, valproate can cause problems with the unborn baby. NICE guidance recommends that if you are starting a family you should not take valproate. See here for more information.
Valproate can affect how your liver works, so you will need regular tests. NICE guidance says to test your liver at the start of treatment and every 6 months after that.
Side effects of lamotrigine
Side effects include:
- blurred vision
- stomach problems
Side effects of antipsychotics
The side effects of antipsychotics can be different depending on which type of antipsychotic you take.
For information about the side effects of antipsychotics click here.
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