The most common and widely used medicine for treating bipolar disorder is Lithium. More common brand names of Lithium are Lithonate, Lithia, Eskalith, Lithobid, and Lithotabs. Studies show that Lithium helps reduce the severity and frequency of mania and bipolar depression.
Lithium is the key ingredient in significantly reducing suicide risk in bipolar patients, as well as being a preventative for future manic episodes. Lithium works best if the amount is always kept at a constant level and is usually prescribed for an extended period of time as maintenance therapy.
After being prescribed Lithium, it usually starts to work after two to three weeks. Its main functionality is to work with the patients central nervous system to stabilize a persons mood. Another quality of Lithium is that it supports people with bipolar disorder to rightfully gain more control of their emotions and manic behavior.
The dosage of lithium varies from patient to patient depending on the severeness of their illness. Since Lithium has the ability to affect your kidneys and thyroid function, your doctor will recommend coming in regularly for blood testing. Also, your doctor will most likely recommend at least eight (8) glasses of water a day while under the influence of lithium, since fluid can affect the levels of lithium in your body.
Lithium Side Effects
Almost 85% of patients subscribed to lithium encounter at least one side effect. The longer you have been on the drug, the more your body adjusts and accepts the lithium, thus lessening the side effects. Always remember to consult with your doctor about any issues that you have experiencing before changing anything in your dosage or schedule.
The most common side affects found in lithium:
- Impaired memory or minor memory loss
- Increased thirst and urination
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Decreased thyroid functionality
- Mild hand tremor
- Poor concentration
- Stomach cramps
Remember to always contact your doctor if you experience prolonged side effects from lithium including slurred speech, increased heart rate, fainting or confusion.
What if I miss a dose of Lithium?
If you miss a dosage, dont be shocked. Just remember to take it as soon as you can, as long as the next dose is not within two hours. Never double you dosage to try and “catch up”.
Pregnancy and Lithium
Women who take lithium withing the first 3 months of pregnant have an increased encounter with serious risks with birth defects. The birth defects can include babies with congenital abnormalities of the heart and blood vessels. Women who plan on starting a family or getting pregnant should also consult their doctor on the best method to ensure a healthy childbirth.
Some of this material was taken from actual people with bipolar disorder and their experiences with Lithium, which is considered a mood stabilizer as well as a treatment of manic-depressive illness.