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What Are Mood Stabilizers And Anxiolytics?

What Are Mood Stabilizers And Anxiolytics?

As a parent of an adolescent who may be struggling with mental health issues, you may have heard about mood stabilizers and anxiolytics. But what exactly are these medications, and how do they work? In this blog from CPST Texas, we’ll explore the basics of mood stabilizers and anxiolytics, their uses, and important considerations for parents.

What Are Mood Stabilizers?

Mood stabilizers are a class of medications primarily used to manage mood swings and stabilize emotions. They are commonly prescribed to treat bipolar disorder, a condition characterized by extreme mood swings between mania and depression. Mood stabilizers work by regulating neurotransmitters in the brain, helping to balance mood and prevent mood episodes.

Mood stabilizers are commonly prescribed to adolescents for several mental health conditions, including:

  • Bipolar Disorder: Mood stabilizers are the primary treatment for adolescents diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings, including episodes of mania (elevated mood, increased energy, and impulsivity) and depression (persistent sadness, low energy, and feelings of hopelessness). Mood stabilizers help to stabilize mood and prevent or reduce the frequency and severity of mood episodes.

  • Severe Depression With Mood Instability: In some cases, adolescents with severe depression and mood instability may be prescribed mood stabilizers in addition to antidepressant medications. Mood stabilizers can help to address mood fluctuations and prevent rapid cycling between depressive and manic states.

  • Mood Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (NOS): Adolescents who experience mood disturbances that do not meet the criteria for bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder may be diagnosed with mood disorders NOS. Mood stabilizers may be prescribed to help stabilize mood and manage symptoms in these cases.

  • Impulse Control Disorders: Adolescents with impulse control disorders, such as intermittent explosive disorder or oppositional defiant disorder, may benefit from mood stabilizers to help regulate impulsive behavior and mood instability.

  • Aggression And Irritability Associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Some adolescents with ASD may exhibit aggression, irritability, and mood swings that can significantly impact their daily functioning. Mood stabilizers may be prescribed to help manage these symptoms and improve behavior.

What Are Anxiolytics?

Anxiolytics, also known as anti-anxiety medications, are drugs used to treat anxiety disorders and related conditions. They work by increasing the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which has a calming effect on the nervous system.

Anxiolytics, or anti-anxiety medications, are prescribed to adolescents for several mental health conditions, including:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): GAD is characterized by excessive worry and anxiety about various aspects of life, such as school, relationships, and personal health. Adolescents with GAD may experience persistent and overwhelming anxiety that interferes with daily functioning. Anxiolytics may be prescribed to help alleviate anxiety symptoms.

  • Panic Disorder: Adolescents with panic disorder experience sudden and intense panic attacks, which can include symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness. Anxiolytics may be prescribed to provide rapid relief during panic attacks or to prevent future attacks.

  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD): SAD is characterized by a persistent fear of social situations and interactions, often leading to avoidance behavior. Adolescents with SAD may experience extreme anxiety in social settings, leading to significant distress and impairment in social functioning. Anxiolytics may be prescribed to help reduce social anxiety and improve social functioning.

  • Phobias: Adolescents with specific phobias experience intense fear or anxiety related to specific objects or situations, such as heights, animals, or flying. Anxiolytics may be prescribed to help alleviate anxiety symptoms in situations where exposure to the feared object or situation is unavoidable.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Adolescents who have experienced trauma may develop PTSD, characterized by intrusive memories, nightmares, flashbacks, and hypervigilance. Anxiolytics may be prescribed to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and distress associated with PTSD.

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD is characterized by intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions) performed in response to these thoughts. Anxiolytics may be prescribed to help reduce anxiety and compulsive behaviors associated with OCD.

Considerations For Parents

If your adolescent is prescribed mood stabilizers or anxiolytics, it’s essential to discuss the potential benefits and risks with their healthcare provider. Some important considerations include:

1. Side Effects: Both mood stabilizers and anxiolytics can cause side effects, ranging from mild to severe. It’s important to monitor your child for any adverse reactions and report them to their healthcare provider.

2. Regular Monitoring: Adolescents taking mood stabilizers or anxiolytics should receive regular check-ups and monitoring to assess their response to treatment and monitor for any changes in symptoms or side effects.

3. Psychotherapy: While medications can be helpful, they are often most effective when combined with psychotherapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other forms of therapy can help adolescents develop coping skills, improve communication, and address underlying issues contributing to their symptoms.

CPST Texas Supports Mental Health In Children And Adolescents

At CPST, we believe that understanding common mental health conditions in children and adolescents is essential for promoting early intervention and providing appropriate support. By recognizing the signs and symptoms of these conditions, parents, caregivers, and educators can help young people navigate their mental health challenges effectively. With early intervention and support, children and adolescents can thrive and lead fulfilling lives.

If you are seeking services for a child or adolescent between the ages of 2-17, CPST is glad to offer comprehensive psychological testing, autism testing, ADHD testing, and more. Together, we can navigate the complexities of mental health and pave the way towards a brighter future. For services in Plano, Duncanville, and Forth Worth, call 214-396-396 today.