A therapist speaks 4 Myths and four facts about Lithium therapy.

Britney Spears stated many stunning comments during a custody hearing in June 2021, stating that she was compelled to take lithium (Eskalith, Eskalith-CR, Lithobid, Lithonate, Lithotabs) upon declining to participate in Las Vegas. The truth that the pop diva classified the prescription as "powerful" and that it made her feel "drunk" has sparked a flurry of public interest in lithium, including what lithium therapy is and what concerns it can entail. So, what exactly is the reality regarding lithium? Here are eight facts concerning this drug that you should be aware of.

What is Lithium Therapy?

Amongst some of the extensively used and researched treatments is lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid) for bipolar illness. When lithium is utilized, mania is less intense and happens less frequently. Additionally, it could help with the management or avoidance of bipolar depression.

According to research, lithium can considerably lower suicide risk. Additionally, lithium helps to avoid subsequent manic and depressive episodes. Thus, one can be recommended as a maintenance medication for extended periods.

Is Lithium a Dangerous Medication?

Lithium toxicity may be hazardous if the dose is too high. A large dosage might be lethal in rare cases. You should specify who is in charge of monitoring the care plan. You should encourage folks to attend monitoring appointments.

Lithium's Common Adverse Effects Include

Shaky hands, heightened thirst, and Urination has increased. Diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms Gaining weight, Memory impairment, Inability to concentrate, Muscle weakness, drowsiness, Hair thinning, Acne, Thyroid function is impaired (which can be treated with thyroid hormone) Four myths and four facts about Lithium Treatment

Myth 1: Lithium Works Instantly

Lithium does not function immediately. This treatment must be initiated gradually, and a certain level of this medicine in the blood must be achieved.

It may not work if the amount of lithium in your body is too low, and it could be hazardous if it is too high. Even once the precise lithium dose is obtained, this drug may take one to four weeks to act fully.

Fact 1: The Most Frequent use of Lithium is to Cure Bipolar Disorder.

Mania, or the higher-energy state of bipolar illness characterized by excessive euphoria or irritation associated with racing thoughts, quicker speech, a lack of desire for sleep, and impulsivity, is one use.

Another application is "maintenance treatment." It indicates that lithium helps people avoid future manic and depressive episodes by keeping their mood steady and avoiding significant mood disruptions.

Lithium has also been demonstrated to lessen suicidal thoughts and actions. It is also occasionally administered as part of the treatment for patients who have been diagnosed with depression or schizophrenia.

Myth 2: Lithium is More Potent and Hazardous than other Psychotropic Medications.

All psychiatric drugs, it is true, can have significant adverse effects. Whatever psychiatric medication you begin, you and your doctor must explore how the medicine will benefit you, its adverse effects, and potential alternative therapies if it does not work for you. It is known as "informed consent."

Fact 2: You Should get Laboratory Tests Before and After Taking Lithium.

Lithium testing is essential to your physical and mental health before and throughout lithium medication. Because this medication may affect your kidneys and thyroid, your doctor will want to know how well they are functioning before starting treatment. You will also be examined for changes in kidney and thyroid function throughout therapy.

Lithium can contribute to weight gain, so your doctor will weigh you before starting therapy. Your doctor will also evaluate you for high cholesterol, high-fat levels, and prediabetes or diabetes. These test findings enable your doctor to estimate your risk of beginning the medicine.

Myth 3: We Understand how Lithium Works.

Lithium is a complicated substance, and no one knows how it functions in the body. We currently know that lithium influences the transport of sodium (an element in the body) through neuron and muscle cells, can modify levels of neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers in the body, such as serotonin and dopamine, and can impact the way neurons receive and send information.

Fact 3: Lithium Can Impact Your Sense of Awareness and Alertness

During her June 2021 hearing, Spears stated that she disliked lithium because it made her feel "drunk." While feeling intoxicated while taking lithium is unusual, it might affect how alert and aware you feel. Lithium might make you tired and less cognitively alert, even at the recommended amount.

However, if you become tired and disoriented while taking lithium, this might indicate that your dose is too high and you're suffering from lithium toxicity. Lithium poisoning symptoms include tremors, slurred speech, muscular weakness, and stomach troubles such as vomiting and diarrhea. If you have any of these symptoms, get medical attention immediately to have your lithium levels evaluated.

Myth 4: If Bipolar Disorder isn't Adequately Treated, Switch Medications immediately.

Speak with your doctor if you believe your current prescription is not adequately treating your symptoms. Slowing down is the greatest method to make improvements. It might involve gradually adjusting a medicine's dose, discontinuing a medication progressively, or gradually introducing a different drug (or a mix of these) – the essential word here is "slowly."

Fact 4: Long-term Lithium use is Safe.

Spears stated during her June 2021 hearing that lithium should not be administered for more than five months, which is incorrect.

The hazards and benefits of medicine differ from person to person and must be regularly monitored during therapy. However, some persons respond well to lithium in terms of symptom management, with few adverse effects. People who respond well to lithium therapy can continue to work with their doctors and safely take this medicine for an extended period.

Updated on: 24-Jan-2023


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