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Do Mood Stabilizers Help Manage Bipolar Anger?

Did you know you can take mood stabilizers for anger? Aggression, anger and irritability are all symptomatic of bipolar disorder when they occur alongside other symptoms of mania and depression. Irrational anger and aggressive or violent behavior can be incredibly destructive to your life, work and relationships, so it’s important to seek help and treatment to help you manage these symptoms. Let’s examine the effectiveness of mood stabilizers for anger and explore some other options for dealing with anger.

Mood Stabilizers for Anger: Do They Work?

Mood stabilizers for anger will only work if you are being treated for a mood disorder (such as bipolar I or II). Only time and medical guidance will determine how effective these drugs will be.

Anger alone is not usually indicative of bipolar disorder. Anger and irritability are normal human emotions that we all experience from time to time. In bipolar disorder, however, anger can go to unprecedented extremes. You may feel impulsive, erratic and out of control. For most people with bipolar disoder, anger presents during mania, causing them to lash out physically or verbally. Anger and irritability can also occur in bipolar depression.

There are several approaches to managing anger as a symptom of bipolar disorder. Mood stabilizers for anger can be effective because they work to lessen, delay and even prevent episodes of mania and depression that may fuel these emotions. Other anger management techniques include:

  • Avoiding triggering situations: Avoiding situations that trigger anger can be helpful in bipolar disorder, but this isn’t always possible. Common triggers include driving and relationship conflict, and avoiding these situations isn’t always possible. Other triggers, such as alcohol, social media and watching the news are more easily avoided.  
  • Talk therapy: It’s not always possible to avoid anger triggers. In these cases, a therapist can help you work through your feelings and create strategies to help you cope. Many people with bipolar disorder seek therapy in addition to taking mood stabilizers for anger.
  • Calm activities: Activities that help with bipolar anger include exercise, meditation, creative pursuits like writing or drawing. Attending a bipolar support group or going to anger management classes may also be helpful.

Are There Natural Mood Stabilizers for Anger?

There is little evidence to support the use of natural mood stabilizers for anger and other bipolar symptoms. While “natural” management techniques such as time spent outdoors, meditation, exercise and various holistic therapies may accompany bipolar treatment, they are not usually recommended as a substitute for medication ("Are There Natural Mood Stabilizers for Bipolar? (And Do They Really Work?)").

Lithium is an element that occurs naturally; it is not a manufactured drug, and can, therefore, be described as a natural mood stabilizer.

Managing bipolar disorder with any form of medication can be challenging, and it may not be for everyone. If you decide not to take medication for bipolar disorder, you must seek guidance from your doctor.

Herbs and supplements that can also be taken as natural mood stabilizers for anger, including:

  • Magnesium: Studies suggest that magnesium plays a role in regulating mood and reducing symptoms of mania and depression, but it’s more effective when taken alongside mood stabilizer drugs. You can talk to your doctor about taking magnesium supplements.
  • Omega-3: Some studies have found that fish oil omega-3 may reduce symptoms of bipolar disorder, as scientists found that bipolar disorder was less common in countries where people ate a lot of fish. Salmon, nuts and plant oils are excellent sources of omega-3.  
  • Ashwagandha: Although there is no evidence that this herb can be used to treat bipolar disorder, a 2017 study printed in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that it helps to balance levels of epinephrine in the brain, reducing stress and other mood-related symptoms.

Some natural remedies for depression, such as St. John's wort, can trigger symptoms of mania, so they are not recommended for people with bipolar disorder.

Overall, it is not clear whether vitamins, herbs and supplements play a role in treating bipolar disorder, and most doctors won’t recommend natural mood stabilizers for anger. This is because the symptoms of untreated bipolar disorder usually carry far more risks and adverse effects than mood stabilizers themselves.

If you’re thinking of taking mood stabilizers for anger, it’s important to work with your doctor to determine the cause of your symptoms and discover the best course of treatment. Never start taking a new medication, natural or otherwise, without medical guidance.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2019, May 22). Do Mood Stabilizers Help Manage Bipolar Anger?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-medications/do-mood-stabilizers-help-manage-bipolar-anger

Last Updated: May 30, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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