Lithium is used to treat and prevent episodes of mania in those burdened with bipolar. Or otherwise known as manic depressive disorder. It works by decreasing abnormal brain activity.
The manic phase of bipolar is characterized by these recurring symptoms:
- rushed speech
- poor judgment
- reduced need for sleep
Lithium not only helps to prevent mania, it also lessens intensity during a manic episode.
However, lithium use is closely monitored because it has the potential to cause some serious toxicity effects and numerous side effects, like:
- appetite loss
- dizziness, vertigo
- diarrhea, vomiting
- itching, rash, acne
- convulsions, coma
- blackouts, seizures
- joint pain, muscle pain
- restlessness, giddiness
- abnormal heart rhythms
- weight gain, weight loss
- fast, pounding heartbeat
- confusion, hallucinations
- bloating, gas, indigestion
- brittle fingernails, hair loss
- ear ringing, slurred speech
- tongue pain, taste changes
- stomach pain, constipation
- cold temperature intolerance
- vision changes, crossed eyes
- slowed intellectual functioning
- headache, pounding head noises
- excessive thirst, frequent urination
- concentration difficulties, confusion
- chest tightness, breathing difficulties
- painful, cold, discolored fingers & toes
- uncontrolled shaking, loss of coordination
- depression, tiredness, drowsiness, stupor
- dry mouth, excessive saliva, metallic taste
- muscle weakness, stiffness, twitching, tics, tremors, dystonia
- hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, hyperglycemia, diabetes insipidus
- eyes, face, lips, tongue, throat, hands, feet, ankles, lower legs swelling
If you are taking lithium, inform your psychiatric health care professional whenever any one of these lithium caused side effect symptoms transpire. Ideally before your next dosage.
Lithium users need to also be aware that abrupt caffeine cessation after regular use may result lithium toxicity.
Lithium is a mainstay of treatment for a large number of bipolar manic depressive disorder sufferers. And it is the only reliable drug to reduce their rate of relapses.