Bipolar Disorder Treatment - Lithium

Bipolar Disorder Treatment - Lithium

Lithium Carbonate, known informally as "Lithium," is the oldest treatment for bipolar disorder currently prescribed. In many ways it remains the best and most effective mood stabilizer available. The American Psychiatric Association recommends lithium as first line therapy for bipolar disorders. Numerous clinical trials have proven its efficacy for treatment of bipolar disorder. Although lithium is often used during manic episodes, it is also proven to help patients during depressive episodes.

Lithium is usually prescribed in conjunction with other bipolar medications, because its effects are not instant or quick, but rather take some time to build up. Several days or even weeks may need to pass before lithium's full therapeutic effects are apparent. Due to this lag time, other drugs are frequently administered to handle the acute phases of bipolar disorder mood episodes. Lithium's most common use with regard to bipolar disorder treatment is as a prophylactic (preventative) agent. Numerous clinical trials show that lithium is effective in stopping the onset of mood swing episodes, and reduces the frequency of relapses.

Although lithium is highly effective at reducing the frequency and intensity of mood swings, it is also a very difficult and potentially dangerous bipolar medication to offer patients. Lithium's therapeutic dose is uncomfortably close to its toxic dose, meaning it is rather easy to take too much lithium by mistake and become poisoned. Toxically high blood lithium levels can cause respiratory depression, seizures, coma and even death. A battery of laboratory tests including a complete blood count, tests for serum (blood) creatinine and electrolytes, hormones, and urinalysis must therefore be conducted before prescribing this bipolar medication, and thereafter repeated on a regular basis so as to provide adequate monitoring of lithium blood levels. A complete blood count measures the components of blood such as red and white blood cells and platelets which help blood to clot. This test makes sure that all these cells exist at normal levels, there is no unknown infection, and that the body can function normally in case of an injury. Measuring creatinine in blood serum is a test for kidney function. If creatinine levels are high it may mean that the kidneys are not fully functional. Since kidney function is essential to clearing lithium from the system (so as to avoid lithium toxicity) this test is particularly important before prescribing lithium to a patient. Tests for electrolytes, hormones, (thyroid, in particular) and urine components indicate the basic health of an individual and levels of hormones and other biochemicals that must be noted before bipolar disorder treatment and monitored throughout therapy. To avoid lithium toxicity, the patient must undergo regular blood monitoring to measure levels of lithium and make sure that they remain within an acceptable dose range. Blood lithium levels need to be monitored closely and most frequently during the early stages of bipolar disorder treatment. However, as treatment stabilizes, blood monitoring can occur as little as every three to six months.

Normal side effects of lithium include tremors, weight gain, heavy urination, excessive thirst, decreased coordination, reduced memory and concentration, changes in hair quality and quantity, nausea or diarrhea, decreases in sexual desire and function, and an increase in white blood cell count. Lithium treatment also reduces thyroid function. It prevents the release of thyroid hormones leading to hypothyroidism. Regular monitoring of thyroid hormones is thus essential when taking lithium (in addition to regular monitoring of lithium blood toxicity levels). If a patient responds well to lithium treatment, then lithium is typically continued and depleted thyroid hormones are replaced or supplemented pharmaceutically. If a patient does not tolerate lithium very well, then alternative bipolar medications may be tried.

As is the case with most medication, care needs to be taken to avoid drug interactions when taking lithium or unanticipated and potentially negative side effects may occur. Patients starting lithium maintenance therapy should make their prescribing psychiatrist aware of any additional medications that they may be taking. Even taking a simple Ibuprofen (e.g., Advil(R)) can potentially lead to problems. Classes of medications that may interact with lithium include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS, including Ibuprofen), anti-hypertension drugs, and antibiotics.

Comments
  • Michele

    Hello I am A 43 year old woman diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I began taking Lithem when I was first diagnosed 4 years ago. I can honesly say that I have taken lithem on a regular basis and quit smoking. I know that Lithem has made my life better and in turn a better person to be around. I do know know wrere I woul be if it wernt for this drug changing my life. To any one who wonder about the side affects yes I have had weight gain but who cares about a price of a few extra pounds when you get to feel like a normal person. Thank you for making a differance in my life . Michele

  • m

    I was diagnosed BPII a decade ago. I've been on lithium for much of the time since. While lithium is probably the least offensive of all the drugs I've tried... I can't say my overall life has improved in quality. I've never been hospitalized... but my job, income, and financial situation have suffered notably.

    I came to this site because I've decided I cannot spend the next four or five decades of my life playing this never-ending game of drug experimentation. I'm going to try something completely new... a holistic approach to treating my disease. I see no reason to continue bombarding my body with drug after drug while the nasty side effects only get worse as the years go by.

    Yes... drugs do tend to keep my hypomanic episodes at bay... but they do little or nothing for the depression. And worse, I believe they are the cause of my more recent anxiety, panic attacks, headaches, unbearable stress and body pains.

    I've quit the meds and now am back to my original state of a decade ago. It isn't pleasant... but at least it's natural.

  • Anonymous-1

    Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.

    Editor's Note: CBT is an excellent secondary therapy for Bipolar Disorder but it is not useful as a *primary* therapy for Bipolar Disorder. the only recommended primary therapy for Bipolar Disorder involves medications administered under the supervision of a medical doctor. Wish it wasn't that way, but it is.

  • Manuel

    I am a 46 years old man that started taking lithium since 2005. Before it, the other drugs I was taking were useless.

    The side effects of lithium have been weight gain and diarrhea, but the benefits have been a stable life. The ability to plan for the first time since a long time ago, and be able to achieve goals in a succesful and satisfying way. It is true that sometimes are with low energy(lack of exercise) but I no longer experience the crazy "dreams" of the past. I am more stable, reliable, and down to earth since I remember.

  • Suzanne

    I was diagnosed with BP2 3 years ago at age 45. Till then I suffered through untreated depression and hypomania, drug and alcohol abuse and a series of ineffective experiments with anti-depressants. When I first started Lithium, it was so powerful that I could barely think. I lost about a month of work in my law practice. But soon my mind began to clear, I began to sleep and eat normally, and for the first time in my life I could THINK. I then realized that I had been married 20 years to a man I didn't love. So I left him. My family, friends and shrink freaked out. But I was right. And I never looked back. Today I have stable relationship with an awesome boyfriend, I own two horses that I ride and take care of every day, my career is thriving, and I am NOT getting fat because I watch how much I eat and I exercise several times a week. Lithium rocks!

  • dawna

    My husnabd was diagnosed at 40 years old as bipolar. Before he was diagnosed he siz affair on that lasted two years. Afte reading the the articles I feel confused. He is on 950mg of Lithium a day. He has no sex drive. He shows no emotions or affection towards me.

  • Zach McBride

    Bi Polar = Ambivalence

    The most sane sounding comment was by Not so Sure... - m - Apr 28th 2007, but I guess, in a way, I only hear what I want to hear (then again, I feel like I'm contributing to the doctors propaganda saying this). I have been on Risperdal, Zyprexor, Seroquel, Mirtazapine, and Ambilify and still find myself questioning the positive effects of these drugs. Maybe they do stabalize you, but I'm on no medication now, and it doesn't seem like my life is unbearable. I havn't really attempted stabalizing my life naturally, but isn't laziness to blame? At least when I'm not on medication I can drink safely. I wish they would just give people suffering with Bi Polar all-natural Marijuana, for no medication has stabalized me as well as this. If it was prescribed by the doctor, I wouldn't have to worry about inconsistent drug-dealers, and whatever chemicals the herb may be laced with. I have an appointment coming up, and they are going to pressure me into to taking drugs, as expected, and I'm not sure what I should do. I feel like I'm being victimized by society. The problems I have noticed without any medication are a slight lack of concentration (although I havn't really tried), minor depression where I displace my anger on the illicit actions of our government, insomnia which I self-medicate with a handful of Benadryl, and also, my manifesto's are loosely associated and grandiose... Help me out. Do something... Legalize Marijuana, or contribute to the Revolution and change conventional thought. Kennylofton2121@aim.com

  • Tom

    here we are, blah, blah , blah,

    everyone has ups and downs, even yes, severe emotions, trouble concentrating. according to everyone, (especially the former riddlin pushers), We all might as well be on lithium. everytime we have mental troubles, they want to shove more crap down our throats.

    Mankind has suffered with grandioso thought, depression, mood swings for millions of years. It is what being human is. Some of us are better at controlling these things.

    the answer is meditation, thinking exercises, and good help from our people around us. we can learn to control this more.

    eating junk like lithium on makes us drug addicts

    I have been adhd, bi polar and everything else according to all these studies, and yet, I have a nice successful life, and have plenty of happiness, depression, anger, pain, joy, and outright crazy happiness, just like everyone else. its called, being human. and living through life.

    Editor's Note: I wish I could agree with you, but you are only right up to a point. There really are people who are so bipolar that they become completely psychotic without medication. Though things like meditation and psychotherapy would be helpful for them, these exercises and disiciplines would not be enough to control such severe symptoms. Medications like lithium are truly necessary in such cases. Taking medication as prescribed by a physician is not drug addiction it is treatment.

  • eliz

    tom, have you ever been at the point where you've wanted to kill yourself? and then a month later out screwing around on your spouse because you have to just do it, not the sex, but just be out there? even if you KNOW it would kill your spouse and your kids?

    some of us need to take meds, tom... and we wish we didn't have to.

  • Shauna

    In 2004, I was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder. This diagnosis came subsequent to several years of alcohol abuse and self-mutilation, a suicide attempt, an arson conviction and several psychological evaluations. Since around the time I turned 12, I felt as though I wasn’t completely in control of my emotional state of mind. A minor slight by someone would feel as if the whole world was against me a small sadness could feel like the very end of existence.

    Many people are aware of, and may even be living with, Bipolar Disorder. While there is an entire spectrum of bipolar behavior, Bipolar II is characterized by periods of hypomania, and deep depressive episodes. Hypomania, in most individuals, looks like a high-energy, highly productive period of time. The seemingly “normal” aspect of this symptom sometimes makes this mental illness difficult to spot, even to the trained eye.

    According to the National Institute of Mental Health, alcohol and drug abuse are very common among people with this, and other mood disorders (Spearing). 15% of the entire population suffers from alcoholism or drug addiction, whereas the statistic for those with Bipolar Disorder is 60% (Dual Diagnosis). Sometimes the affected person is self-medicating, but often use will trigger or accelerate symptoms, such as mood swings and depression. Symptoms of the recovery process can mimic the signs of Bipolar, making it even more difficult to diagnose in addicts.

    Prior to my mental health diagnosis, and until I really began to understand what I was dealing with, my emotions were very turbulent. My particular disorder is labeled as “rapid-cycling,” which means I can hit numerous highs and lows in short spans of time. The highs are enjoyable I am perky, confident, and highly motivated. I burst into fits of laughter, and tend to be very spontaneous. While my spontaneity can sometimes lead to irresponsible decision making, hypomania is not normally dangerous.

    The devastating aspect of this disorder is the inability to cope with depressive episodes, and sadly, many people suffering from Bipolar Disorder turn to suicide. Even more often, they turn to alcohol and illicit drugs, which leads one down a perilous path just a slower form of suicide. Some mental health patients may have trouble differentiating between self-medication and treatment. Dealing with Bipolar Disorder is difficult enough without adding addiction to the equation.

    All the time I was in treatment for mental health, my alcoholism was either overlooked or considered a symptom. I was warned to avoid mixing alcohol with certain types of medications, but no mention was ever made of a co-occurring disorder. Uneducated about this type of dual diagnosis, I wasn’t aware of the effects my alcohol and occasional drug use was having on my mental state, or even how it could be interacting with my medications.

    Due to on-going concurrent legal, mental and addiction issues, I was charged with Driving under the Influence (DUI) in the spring of 2007. Washington State currently mandates assessment and treatment as part of the punishment for any alcohol or drug related driving offense (Hamilton). Several assessors came to the same conclusion I was chemically dependant and needed treatment.

    In hindsight, my initial resistance to the recovery process further illustrates the difficulties added by my mental disorder. Although I knew that I was on a downward spiral, I liked the way I felt when I was drunk. I was just like everyone else drunk, I no longer had to own up to my outbursts they then belonged to the alcohol.

    Although every assessment asks in detail about mental health, I never really felt as though it was stressed as an area of focus for any of the professionals involved in my recovery. I believe the lack of education on this topic is to blame, and not the counselors.

    Some treatment centers now offer specialized treatment focusing on co-occurring disorder. Close cooperation is called for between chemical dependency counselors and mental health professionals, as both psychiatric and addiction symptoms must be closely monitored (Forest View Psychiatric Hospital).

    There are currently several medications psychiatrists use to treat Bipolar Disorder. Lithium, a mood stabilizer, was most commonly used for many years. The trouble with lithium is that the therapeutic level is just slightly less than the toxic level and intake must be closely monitored.

    Other classes of pharmaceuticals used include anti-depressants (usually paired with a mood-stabilizer, due to the increased risk for mania), anticonvulsants, and SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors). Some common trade names you may have heard include Zoloft, Paxil, and Wellbutrin. All of these medications have side effects, and dosages may need to be periodically adjusted.

    Sometimes trying to find the right medications can be a war unto itself. Unfortunately, scientists and doctors still don’t know exactly what causes Bipolar Disorder, so prescribing treatment can be hit-and-miss for healthcare providers. They may have to try a patient on several medications, and sometimes even several at once, before some combination both deals with symptoms effectively and has few side effects for the individual.

    My personal experience with this trial-by-error form of treatment made my struggle with this disorder all the more difficult. I was bounced around the spectrum like a rubber ball, according to my latest medication. Some would make me feel strung-out others would cause disruptions to my sleep patterns. I would sleep all day, or not at all mood-swings were out of control and I was mostly miserable.

    Depakote, an anticonvulsant, was tolerable to me. I took it for over a year, with only a few strange side effects. My hair didn’t seem to grow much that year. The common thread of all the medications I tried was a frozen feeling. I became emotionally numb. I never felt quite like myself, and even though I knew my emotions could become dangerous, I missed them. While I didn’t have to deal with the deep depression, I also wasn’t able to achieve the same levels of happiness.

    ** I must insert a disclaimer here I am not a mental health professional. If you feel that you are a danger to yourself and/or others, PLEASE SEEK HELP! **

    In the end, I never found a medication I could live with. I am currently living un-medicated, by personal choice, and have been for two years. I control my moods by simply being aware of them. I continually keep a mental mood inventory, so I know even if I am terribly sad, that I was just deliriously happy moments before.

    I map the rollercoaster as I go. I never know what is in front of me, but I know from my past that there is a definitive pattern. If I just stay in my seat and hold on, I’ll always come out of the scary parts. There are many ways to do this. Writing or journaling is used a lot in psychotherapy. A “mood journal” can be very helpful to someone dealing with a mental disorder.

    Struggling with both addiction and a mood disorder will forever remain a struggle for balance in my life. Many chemical substances lower inhibitions, and when you have a mood disorder those inhibitions can be the precarious hold over very powerful emotions. Not only is a person at higher risk of addiction if they are living with a mental disorder, the use of drugs and alcohol only serve to exacerbate symptoms.

    Science has shown that there may be a genetic connection with many mental illnesses, including Bipolar Disorder. While I hope for the best, I am aware that I may inherit this disorder unto my unborn child. One thing I have learned from my struggle, and the one thing I am determined to pass onto my daughter, is that we all have the power to choose our own attitude.

    No person or situation determines the way that you feel only we have that power. Knowing that you are in control of the way things affect you, truly and completely puts you in control of your emotions. Being in control of the more powerful emotions, like anger and despair, means that they loose the ability to overwhelm.

    I will teach her the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and show her that she is at a higher risk of dependence due to her family history. I can only do my best, as she grows up, to teach her to make positive decisions. At some point, it is each person’s own choices that lead them down their individual paths.

    I urge everyone with or without any disorder or dependency issue, chemical, mental, personal or otherwise, to take control of your outcome. Don’t be dependant choose your own attitude, be in control of your own destiny. Play an active role in your life. Talk with your doctors, teachers, counselors. Research the things you put into your body. Learn as much as possible, and read everything you can.

    I believe that as more research is done into the fields of mental health and chemical dependency, more solutions will come available. This, and other dual diagnoses, will become more well-known, and thereby better handled. Until that day, everyone should become better educated about their selves and their emotions and urges. If what you are doing isn’t working for you, be open to possibilities. There are always alternatives.

  • Peter

    I am 26 years old and have been diagnosed bipolar for three years. The only drug that i have been on is Lithium. I take 1200mg/day. They dont work.

    My symptoms are the usual except whre other get manic and depressed i get furious and manic. Anger and irritability has consumed me. i hate the person i am and miss the old me.

    i used to smoke pot and it made the anxiety go away but not the anger. i have never tried anything else and i am thinking i should but all the stories of the zombie-like side affects freak me out.

    they even had me taking up to 1500mg/day. It seems that my age might have somehting to do with it cause the doctors never seem to listen to me just up my dose. i hear things, see things sometimes. they just think i am some drugged out youth when really i am asking for help. i wanna quit taking them but i am afraid of the consequences.

  • noel

    I'm a 48 yr old male, diagnosed chronic depressive at 13, suicide attempt at 28 and 30, placed on lithium at 33. I'm a degreed engineer and have managed a reasonably successful career.

    As a kid I was "moody and artistic" played 6 instruments, painted, wrote...but was miserable. That misery persisted into my adult life to the point that I finally crashed at 28. My lithium levels, untreated, top out at .4 and go down from there meaning that life is just about impossible. I simply don't make/retain enough lithium to function. At 900 mg per day I manage to hold .55 to .65 unless I'm under high stress when I have to supplement another 300mg per day.

    Lithium isn't a perfect solution, I've managed to control the weight and the fine motor tremor. The mood swings are minor now compared to what I've experienced most of my life. It requires diligent monitoring, recording your emotional and physical states and having the meds adjusted to where they work, but you're not "flatlined" by them. I'm not as excited by life as I used to be, emotions are much more subdued...but I'm alive, and making it day by day.

    You can make it too, learn about your body and your disorder, learn to manage it, stay away from other mood altering drugs and take control of your life. It's hard, you'll get discouraged, but you can do it.

  • lost and hopeless

    I was put on 600mg a day at the age of 20 I was pregnant at the time (had no idea test were negative) The meds worked I felt normal until I was told was pregant and I went off all at once. didnt' have major side effects other then a little bit of OCD kicked I became a clean freak over night. Then my world crashed, I was told I was pregnant in my tubes and hadto have surgery well my doctor desided to try the shot first, as he put it to desolve the fetus. I was 9 weeks pregnant, this just about killed me. An now no one can tell me if it was the lithium that caused it. I beat myself up everyday over it. I honestly had no idea or I wouldn't have taken it in the first place. I mean good when you have two normal cycles and some odd cyle between them from the time you could have gotten pregant and they tell you that you are, needless to say there were tears and arguements. I was clearly told not to get pregnant on the meds I was taking the steps not to. Cut out the sex and get birth control, I had been on the med for like 2 or 3 weeks. I had every reason in the book to argue the result and I did until the sick feel stayed after I quite taking the meds.

    I can't bring myself to go back on them and I know I need them. I have so much stress on me and when it all builds is when I find myself sitting in the dark closet. I've never hurt anyone besides myself and it isn't like I'm going to kill myself but I can't manage college and a family and my son should not have to suffer. I thougt I was doing good until this semester started back and I'm not on the birth control so I guess the hormonal balance is all out of wack or something. But to be honest I don't believe in BC anymore then other meds. not on a daily basis. If so I would take the pain meds the way the doc says but noticable I live with the pain until it gets the better of me as well.

    Anyone have advice other then meds or critics (i'm my worst so I don't need anyone else doing to, they can't top the crap I put myself through so they dont' need to waste their time)

  • Lisa

    The problem with being bipolar is as soon as you feel good you want to stp taling the medication. What is worse is as they say it takes very little to overdose on, which is what my mther did. It seems a little odd to give someone with suicidal tendancies a drug that takes so little to kill yourself with. There has got to be a better way. I know this disorder is genetic so I worry about me and my kids.

  • Leny

    Thru my life I have taken several antidepressants,(paxil,wellbutrin,zoloft,cymbalta) all of which have not helped me!!!This over a fifteen year period.I am at my worst time in life right now. I have a hard time just getting out of bed each day,going to work and then being able to work. My friends are worried. My wife is ready to leave me. My children(ages 4-13) are suffering too. My wife cannot deal with my depression any more...so she says. Fourteen years of marriage. I am going to see a therapist Monday March 16,2009. Wish me well!!! Thanks to all of your comments. Real encouraging to me. One of my friends started takinf lithium, and she said it is working great!!!!!I am going to give it a try. Thaks again. Hope all those who have to deal with depression out there, can find what works for them.....

  • Patti

    This is quite a subject with many opinions. I not only have dual diagnosis but I have severe liver damage. I just started on Lithium in the last 2 weeks. I have been on every med known for my mood swings. I go from long periods of dark depression to rapid cycling to pure manic frenzy. I have been off alcohol and street drugs for over 4 years. That is when I really noticed my mood swings. The Lithium has got me moving again but I fear it is my last hope if I cannot take it. the only good thing is it is metabolized in the kidney instead of the liver. My first blood test was low so my dose was increased slightly but I am at a very low dose due to my history with medications. I was on Seroquel, which gave me nightmares and muscle spasms and I was on Zoloft that put me in a full blown manic spell on the lowest dose-now lithium

  • Anonymous-2

    i was misdiagnosed with manic depression. i will never take any stupid medications again. i keep getting sad no and taking lithium. then i realize that when i was sad i was actually happier. i hate this evil drug. it's a poison like mercury or lead. i will never take this again. vitamins, minerals and exercize will hopefully restore my personality.

  • nocomment

    I have been on Lithium on and off over the past few years and this year consistently on 900 mg's a day. I have almost zero short term memory now. If anyone asks me a question, almost always the answer is "I don't know." My friends are understanding but it's still hard to deal with.

    I also can't lose weight very easy like I used to also. I am 40 pounds now over my normal weight of 130.

    I cannot afford the other drugs as I can't afford health insurance. Thank you US government. I make "too much money" to be on Medicaid.

    I hate being Bi-Polar. Thank you for reading.

  • Anonymous-3

    I was on the verge of suicide when I was put on Lithium just this last September. It felt as though it took forever to work, unlike all the other drugs I'd been on (Lamictal, Lexapro, Abilify, Zoloft, Prozac). When it began to work, however, it worked much more gently - where other drugs had sent me almost immediately into mania, Lithium just started to slowly make me feel more optimistic. It also really killed my concentration, energy and motivation for the first couple of months, but now, at the end of the third month, all have returned. I do still seem to need an extra hour or two of sleep each night. I have not experienced weight gain, and I believe this is because I watch what I eat and I exercise. I know some drugs really do make it difficult to control your eating habits (I've been a marathoner for years, and I still gained 30 lbs on Abilify), and they all affect different people differently. I'm really pleased, however, with how few side effects I've experienced on Lithium. I'm even more pleased with how much it has eased the pain of depression and mania.

  • Sharon

    I am a fifty-six year old woman. I have been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder for twelve years. I started taking lithium last October. I started on 1200mg and then cut back to 600. About six weeks ago I began having severe body aches and stomach pain. All my lab tests have been negative. Has anyone else experienced body aches due to lithium?

  • Susan

    I am 43, and have gone through many years of medication hell. Lithium is by far the most gentle drug of any. Anger, agitation, and irritability are much better on Lithium. SSRIs make me feel out of control. Sure, Im more down, but am in control of my life.

  • karen

    I have been on lithium and zoloft for about 18 months now I am 53 years old and feel like my lif e has never been happy. I have neck and back injurys and feel lithium make it worse. I am getting more and more tired memory loss and zero sex drive. I am thinking of stopping the drugs but am scared of the manic behaviour returning in catch 22 for sure. what is the point in living!

  • Anonymous-4

    I would like to say that I haven't found lithium difficult to manage. The key is access to a doctor who understands and is willing to work with you on managing lithium. Some doctors don't like to deal with it anymore. One social worker told me she tells doctors not to prescribe it for her people because she can't get them the lab work. If you can get the lab work and you have a doctor who is committed to making lithium work, it can be a great drug. I've never accidently poisoned myself with lithium. If your level is getting a little high, your body tends to let you know with increased side effects. If I noticed an increase in side effects, I drink more water and salt my food.

    Overall, the side effects are far more tolerable than the atypicals I took for years in combination with SSRIs. I don't feel sedated and I can actually go to work. No memory problems, very slight tremor on occasion which goes away if I eat something salty, and a few GI sympoms that I manage by taking Citrucel caplets. It helps with the depression without triggering me into mania. Also, I haven't gained or lost any weight. The downside is that you have to be willing to give it time to work and whenever I would end up in the hospital, they were under pressure to get symptoms under control fast. I would get discharged with four or five different prescriptions that all worked in the short-term but didn't work in the long-term. Lithium is also very economical, even when you calculate in the lab work.

  • Anonymous-5

    after experiencing manic episodes every 1-3 years and plenty of depression in between, I am about to change from valproate to lithium. after reading all your comments I still don't know what to expect, but I feel more ready to at least give it a try. It's different reading of people's experience rather than a doctor's opinion. Well, off to get the prescription filled..

  • sarahlataline

    I remember having a very rough time , dad died, mom shorty after, having to move and brain surgery. I wanted a break and the only place I felt I could go was the hosptial I wanted a rest....they couldn'y wait to diagnos me as a "little bipolar" and they couldn't wait to stick me on some of those wonder drugs the pharas can't wait to push with the help of doctors/whores. They wrote all types of info in my file half of which was fabricated by the idiot doctors/whores so they could prolong their heafty incomes...seriously the US has alot to learn and many doctors should be behind bars....If they get upset we the people will load them up with lithium, anti phyc, or whateverthey will be fine. FThem

  • Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

    Sarah,

    Clearly, you are very angry about the medical treatment you received. On the other hand, you seem to take no responsibility for your behavior that caused that treatment. I don't know of anyone who checks into a hospital in order to have a rest. I am quite certain that the MD's in the emergency room correctly diagnosed you.

    I want to remind you that American medicine is recognized around the world as superb and that people worldwide come to the U.S. for medical treatment because they know they will receive only the best. Does this mean that is is perfect? No. Are there a few doctors who are not good? Yes.

    Speaking for myself, I can accept anyone's anger and disappointment about a bad experience. However, I cannot and will not accept some angrily condemning an entire profession and nation. I also do not apprecitate your cursing. It is uncalled for and inappropriate.

    Your behavior here points to the correctness of the diagnosis made by the doctors who saw you.

    Dr. Schwartz

  • Lucy

    My son was diagnosed with bi polar in 2007 & he is now 18 years of age.. He has been on different meds for the past 3 years, that now being lithium and zeldox. He never did exhibit any signs of mania, he was however suffering from very deep depression & panic attacks. He had a terrible time sleeping and was told that was probably his mania. He was self harming which has stopped, however it may be replaced with other methods of self destruction, I don't know. My concerns are just that as well as he seems to have flatlilned at 1200 mg daily. He seems to have not care about future including his appearance. I know this could be signs of the depression still, but he does go out with friends etc., but his personality itself seems to be less respectful etc. Although he thinks he is extremely respectful. We are so exhausted as parents, trying to understand the disease itself and question whether his diagnosis is correct?

  • Anonymous-6

    I had lithium toxicity in april of 2010. I was hospitalized for 2 weeks. Had my kidney dialiasis. The only symptoms I have left are slured speech and problems with motor skills wodering if this will go away? or if there is any treatment I could try. My lithium levels were 4.6. thank you

  • pearl

    What is normal range Lithium level ?

    Dr. Dombeck's Note: This article contains the information you want.

  • Christal

    I will probably write a book about this one day. But, I am a good samarItan, and I'd rather see people helped than try to profit...at the moment. Please don't profit from my ideas, as they are dated here(and in other places) on the internet, and I can prove they are mine :p

    I would highly recommend that anyone that has this diagnosis...consider changes in diet(more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, reduce white flours and sugars, and other processed foods). Drink plenty of water...especially alkaline water(kangen) if you can get your hands on it. Otherwise, drink room temperature water with lemon. I would of course, also recommend a regular exercise routine, as well as meditation, and acupuncture for maintenance when you feel a swing coming on. I purchased a terrific product called bioelectricshield. It has a crystal matrix in it(and you can even pay a little extra for an ADHD upgrade) ...it's a lifesaver! Also, a little feng shui goes a LONG way for people with mood disorders. TRY IT, YOU WON'T BE DISAPPOINTED!!

    Beyond this basic physical/environmental cures, here's what YOU can do MENTALLY: the power of 3. You're going to rewrite/rewire your DNA with these 3 books. One is for organization...basically, every night before bed--empty your head of any

  • Anneliese

    Hey, what happened to the first woman's(Christal?) suggestion of three books? Her e-mail was cut short...hmm...Can you please recover her book titles? They sound very useful!

    -A

  • rather not say

    how can i increase my girls sex drive she is bipolar haven't had sex in 7 months she says her meds makes her not have the urge for sex

  • ang

    Some time ago, my doctor changed my medication regime from Sodium Valporate to Lithium Carbonate. On sodium Valporate which I was placed on after a severe Manic episode, made me sluggish, blunted flat and unable to think properly. I resulted in an inability to think at a reasonable rate and affected behavior and self care.

    On Lithium my thinking is back to normal speed but i am incurably irritable and have been for a year. Social interaction is a strenuous effort to avoid being aggressive in conversation and I even become agitated just because I've been asked a question.

    My doctor says it's not lithium producing the side effect. I know it is and I can't change psychiatrist. I feel like I have every justification to take my chances and ditch the pills. Stuck between a rock and a hard place.