Medications for Bipolar Depression

bipolar lithium treatment

For the past several decades prescribing lithium for bipolar disorder has been one of the most commonly used methods for managing this condition. The reason is that lithium has been proven effective in the treatment of bipolar disorder time and time again. In fact, it is actually the most prescribed mood elevator for the treatment of bipolar disorder. Lithium has been shown to effectively prevent patients from experiencing a manic episode, helping them avoid the paranoia and anxiety that goes along with it.  Since it is a mood elevator, using lithium for bipolar disorder can also help reduce the instances of depressive episodes leading to thoughts of suicide or suicidal actions.

Why Prescribe Lithium For Bipolar Disorder?

When a bipolar patient possibly experiencing a manic episode or thoughts of suicide is admitted to a psychiatric hospital the first medication that is usually tried is lithium; but why is this? Lithium is often the first medication prescribed because it is one of the oldest mood elevators known the medical community and has a history of achieving positive results for patients. Since it is also known to help prevent manic episodes and significantly reduce suicide risks some patients are also kept on lithium for bipolar disorder as a sort “maintenance drug” intended for use between episodes. Using other mood elevators such a Depakote for bipolar disorder have also been shown effective but not with the same consistency as lithium. In addition, lithium helps treat a broad range of bipolar symptoms while other medications are specifically tailored to specific symptoms of the disorder.

Results of Lithium Therapy

Therapy involving a regimen of lithium for bipolar disorder sufferers has been shown effective in one of the most important aspects of treating this psychological disorder; prevention. It is all well and good to help patients make their way through a manic episode but preventing these episodes altogether is the expressed goal of psychiatrists when dealing with a bipolar person. In addition, since sufferers of bipolar disorder have such a disproportionately high suicide rate when compared to the general population the prevention of depressive episodes through lithium therapy is also invaluable. However, it should be noted that lithium may not work for every bipolar person and does carry the risk of certain side effects.

Side Effects of Lithium Therapy

Many of the side effects of using lithium for bipolar disorder a relatively benign while other may only be exhibited by patients with certain preexisting conditions. Pregnancy is an example of a preexisting condition that would keep lithium therapy for being an option for a bipolar person. To keep from potentially harming the fetus a different mood elevator would likely be prescribed. Benign effects such as increased frequency of urination in both men and women have also been reported. Several other, more severe side effects have been reported but are very uncommon. These uncommon side effects can include things such as slurred speech, diarrhea, drowsiness and trembling. These side effects may be indicative of an overdose or toxicity problem and should be discussed immediately with your doctor is you are receiving therapy involving lithium for bipolar disorder.