Lithium Is Unparalleled in It Range of Efficacy in the Mood Disorders

Most clinicians are aware of lithium’s superiority over other mood stabilizers in bipolar illness prophylaxis. New data suggests this might also apply to the atypical antipsychotics.

Lithium is also not only an effective adjunct to antidepressant in unipolar depression, but has some of the best data for its use in long term prevention. In bipolar disorder prophylaxis it is particularly effective in those with classical presentations of discrete episodes of euphoric mania, treatment early in the course of illness, lack of anxiety and substance comorbidities, and a positive history of mood disorder in first-degree relatives.

New data indicates that it is also effective in childhood onset mania, and open long term follow ups indicate that it is more effective than other mood stabilizers or atypical antipsychotics.

Despite the compelling effectiveness data and many ancillary benefits, survey data indicates very low levels of current lithium use in both adult and child bipolar disorder. The conventional view, shared by most patients and many clinicians, underestimates its range of effectiveness and potential benefits while overestimating it is side effects. A more balanced view is needed as neglect of wider use of lithium is detrimental to the long term outcome of immense numbers of patients.

Robert M. Post, MD


Comments are closed.