74 thoughts on “Bipolar Medication Spotlight: Lithium

  • July 18, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    I have been taking lithium for less than a month now, but so far my experience with it has been significantly better than my experiences with Lamictal, Abilify, and Geodon. All of the aforementioned medications came with horrible side effects (for me) and helped my moods very little. With lithium, my moods and energy level have improved so much. I am so grateful that I can function now!

  • July 19, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    I know two people who have died from kidney failure due to lithium toxicity and one who is waiting for a kidney transplant. These people were all monitored regularly for toxicity…

    No thanks to lithium.

    I also happen to know a lot of folks who have been off meds for a long time who take lithium orotate safely and have had no episodes in years…

  • July 19, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    If you’ve taken lithium for bipolar disorder or are a doctor who has prescribed it, please share your experiences, insights, and observations.

    I didn’t see that part. I took lithium years ago. It made me tremble, and I was covered from head to toe in very scaly psoriasis.

    I also developed horrible acne which has left me scarred 20 years later.

    I was also extremely depressed the whole time I was on it and it made me gain 40 lbs…the brain fog was horrible. I was monitored and kept on what I was told was a low dose…

    You can be sure I think it’s a wonderful drug…

  • July 20, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    A friend had a grave plot picked out the week prior to starting LithaLife, a lithium orotate supplement. After two weeks taking the pills, she was looking for a husband. After four weeks, she enrolled in classes. She says lithalife saved her life.

  • July 20, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    how can you say lithium orotate won’t, help with such authority??

    that there are no studies proving that it helps does not mean it does not help.

    I wish psychiatrists listened to people’s experiences…since I’ve started listening to alternative voices and trusted MULTIPLE anecdotes since there were no studies to be had, I’ve chosen very effective alternatives and I’m almost med free…

    Meds effectively ended my life in terms of quality. I’m finally getting it back.

  • July 21, 2008 at 8:55 am

    My wife was recently hospitalized for a severe manic episode twice – once for three days followed by a five-day respite followed by a ten-day stay. The second-tier meds she was using to control her mania didn’t work.

    During the second hospitalization, the doctor started her on lithium and lowered the dose of risperdal she was taking. (He also had her stop taking her antidepressant – Wellbutrin.)

    After about 5 days, I noticed a dramatic improvement. At the end of her ten-day stay, she was able to come home and get back in the swing of things. Lithium was truly remarkable.

    She has experienced some weight gain (not nearly as much as when she had taken Depakote or Zyprexa in the past.) To help, the doctor decreased the amount of risperdal she is taking.

    Yes, lithium toxicity is very real and very scary, but so is mania. We’re very fortunate, so far, to have the lithium work so well at the low-end of the therapeutic range. Lithium liberated my wife and our family from the shackles of bipolar.

  • July 21, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    I truly hope your wife remains healthy and stable but if she’s only been on Lithium since “recently” I don’t think we know yet what the outcome will be.

    I did the med merry go round for 20 years and am now almost off meds and the quality of my life is much better….

    I took 37 different drugs in that period of time. I had short periods of times where I thought I was doing better and that such and such a drug was the wonder drug…ultimately it became clear meds were being used to clear up other meds side effects ad nauseum.

    I’ve gone natural with an excellent orthomolecular psychiatrist that also uses various energy healing techniques. Some may think it sounds like hocus pocus, but my brain is finally clearing and I’m virtually off all my meds…

    I see people going into the life I led for 20 years and I cringe…the mainstream pharma funded world of psychiatry is hard to avoid. And it takes a conversion of sorts to get out from under their spell.

    I do hope the best for you…some people some of the time actually stabilize on meds, but as a consumer myself and a psychiatric social worker professionally I’ve become completely disenchanted with drugs and traditional psychiatry.

  • July 23, 2008 at 3:46 am

    Have any of you people who take lithium oratate ever heard of the placebo effect?

  • July 25, 2008 at 12:18 am

    your sarcasm is charming…

    Maybe these people I know who have been stable for years never had bipoar…it is grossly over diagnosed…I wouldn’t have a problem with that interpretation.

    But given I know some of these people had severe difficulties, became sicker on conventional meds and got relief when they took lithium orotate (not alone but with a nutritional regime that includes healthy diet and other supplements)

    you know that most anti-depressant success is placebo? this is documented in the literature. those people tend to relapse and “poop-out” of the antidepressant is blamed…how do you explain years of stability on lithium orotate, unless of course there never was a disorder???

  • July 25, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    My doctor made me choose one of three drugs to take: lithium, Lamictal, or Seroquel. I looked up all three. Seroquel had terrible somnolence and weight gain problems. As for lithium, I felt as though I didn’t have the time to have my blood levels monitored for toxicity. Lamictal seemed like the better choice.

    I have heard that lithium has helped some people but it’s not for everyone. It’s the same choice with Seroquel. Either people have chosen to gain weight and conquer their illness or have bypassed the drug and gone a different route. For a lot of people, it comes down to whether your physical health or your mental health is more important. There is no psych drug that is free of side effects.

  • July 29, 2008 at 6:29 am

    I don’t beleive Lithium is doing anything for me at all, i take 1 gram a day and i am more depressed now than i have ever been, i am just waiting for my next appointment with my pdoc and i will be waving goodbye to this awful drug


  • August 2, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    I take both lithium,lamictal and colonzopam for treatment of bi-polar I sustained after hitting my head during a traffic accident (I was not aware one could receive bi-polar as a result to hard blows to the head and there were 5 degrees of bi-polar) It IS NOT ONLY GENETIC. My Dr, has been doctor of the year since 1996 and is head of the psychiatric unit at a large accredited hospital. The only side effect I have had with lithium was when I accidently overdosed (thought I had not taken my meds. yet I already had) I took the same dosage again. It was not fun. I was shaking, could not walk or talk and felt like I was going to pass out. Sleep took away all the symptoms…with the help of burnt toast & peanut butter (same as charcoal) Other than that one instance, I have never had a problem with lithium. I also think lithium and lamictal compliment each other.

  • August 16, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    Hi everyone,

    I suffer from psychotic bipolar I (I have also been diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder a time or two).

    I take (3) 300 mg capsules of Lithium Carbonate a day at bedtime (900 mg total a day). I have to say that I love lithium. Before starting on Lithium, I was on Abilify. I love lithium over Abilify. With Abilify I just did not feel like myself.

    When you are trying to excel in today’s competitive environment, and you have to talk to co-workers on a daily basis, and you don’t “feel like yourself”, how can you get ahead and excel? You can’t, at least not for me. Now I know that for some people Abilify and other meds are great and work well for them. That is great. And that is the big trick for brain meds – everyone is different – you have to find the right meds and the right combinations of meds which work well for you.

    But for lithium, I “fell like myself”, I have a lot of energy, I don’t get upset towards others around me, and it keeps me out of depression.

    Now when I get under a lot of stress, or when I get an “unplanned-for-stressor” which hits me by surprise, then I supplement the lithium with Zyprexa. Zyprexa is specially formulated for all the different types of ghosts, goblins, demons, and bogie monsters. I.E., it eliminates all forms of delusions and hallucinations. I manage all this with the help of a caring significant other who tells me, “I think tonight maybe you should take a 5 mg dose of Zyprexa.”
    She helps me out a lot this way.

    This way, I know that I stay safe and that those around me stay safe. I manage my meds.

    You can too!

    Good luck,

    Jimmy Stevenson

    PS – I weigh 230 pounds, my lithium blood work usually comes in around “.7”, on the .6 to 1.2 scale, so I am healthy with lithium.

  • August 18, 2008 at 11:11 am

    My mother has taken lithium for over 30 years now. It is truly a God send for manic depression! Before her doctor put her on lithium she was in the lock up ward of the psychiatric wing at Methodist Hospital in Houston. She had been there for a couple of months. She was on the depressed swing of a bipolar episode and not coming out of it no matter what medication they tried. They had even done shock treatments on her and nothing was working. The doctors told my father to find a State Hospital to put my mother in and have her committed. In a last ditch effort her doctor tried Lithium and she snapped out of it within a matter of a few short days. She has lived a normal, happy life on a maintenance dose of 300 mg/day of Lithium for the past 30 years. She won’t leave home without it! You better believe that I sing the praises of Lithium to everyone I know!

  • August 26, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    I was diagnosed with Bipolar I in Feb 1978 (over 30 years ago.) At the beginning it was the mania that gave me the most problems. As I got older, the depression was the worst of the two. I have had good times and bad and the best thing you can do if you have bipolar is to pick the right spouse! 🙂

    I have used Lithium, Depakote (with Zoloft) and now Lamictal (with Lexapro), along with several anti-anxiety drugs as needed along the way.

    LITHIUM worked great for many, many years. I had a little weight gain but not much. It was a pain to monitor (blood work, urine workup). What I didn’t like most was the heat warning. I also developed a bad case of psorasis (for the first time ever). Don’t know if the stress from a car accident helped cause the psorasis. A few months later I was hospitalized for bipolar (the only time since my intial hospitalization when I was diagnosed.) A few years down the road and I started having tremors. Once it was really bad. That’s when my meds where changed. All in all a great drug.

    Then I went on Depakote with Zoloft. I had a good response to the drug. HOWEVER, I gained almost 50 lbs really quickly. That alone will put you into depression. But I stayed on this for about 7-8 years because it worked well. No side effects (but weight gain). Would NEVER recommend Depakote.

    I was changed to Lamictal and Lexapro when trying to lose weight. Lamictal has to be started very, very slowly. This combination seems to work well. My psorasis has returned (but had only left when I was on Depakote because I took Amevive shots that put it in remission). It did not come back immediately so I don’t know if the Lamictal caused it or if it was just time to come back. (No one has had complete permanent remission from psorasis with Amevive and I was lucky that it worked for as long as it did.) Have been happy with Lamictal because it doesn’t have to be monitored as closely. But I do hate the size and dimension of the pill. It’s hard to get down.

    I think that everyone has different reactions to the various drugs for bipolar and you must be patient when starting a new regime. Just please don’t give up because a full, happy, productive life is possible with full compliance and the right attitude. Oh yeah, also with the right spouse. 🙂

  • September 8, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Can someone tell me the effects ill or otherwise of taking Lamictal (200 mg) per day and Abilify (5mg) per day and occasionally get drunk or stoned. My son has bi-polar disorder. He’s 18 and the above is a regular occurrence for him. He’s been warned that smoking pot can make him go schizo, but he refuses to believe. I’m certain that the meds he’s on have done him good. Prior to meds he used to regularly beat on his door in his room and sometimes even hit himself in the head. Since the meds he does neither. He’s trying to finish high school this year and really struggling with depression. I think if he would lay off drugs (pot) and alcohol the meds would level him out. But can’t convince him to do. Just wondered if there are ill effects mixing above drugs with pot and alcohol.

  • September 8, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Hi, Dan-

    Everything you read about bipolar disorder (and I’ve read a lot) warns against using alcohol, marijuana, and other such substances. They really throw your brain chemistry out of whack and counteract any of the good the pharmaceuticals are doing. You’re absolutely correct in thinking that your son needs to lay off the pot and alcohol.

    If you want to read about someone who’s tried to self-medicate (particularly with alcohol) while seeking treatment for bipolar disorder, check out Madness: A Bipolar Life, by Marya Hornbacher. It’s a case study on what not to do. Maybe your son should read it, too.

  • September 10, 2008 at 6:59 am

    I’ve taken lithium since 1990. I’ve read that 30% of bipolar patients who try lithium will be “lithium responders,” and that it doesn’t work so well for everyone.

    I feel blessed lithium works for me: I’m medication compliant, and in 18 years, have had only two major episodes with bipolar symptoms.

    I’ve had few side affects: some kidney damage (frequent urination) my doctor said will heal itself upon cessation of the drug. Some hair loss—but I just got hair extensions!!!!!

  • September 13, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    My 11 year old daughter is on lithium. She has tried many different medications and lithium has helped a lot!! She has been on lithium for over a year.

    Just thought I would share it with all of you.

  • September 15, 2008 at 3:46 am

    I have been on lithium for just over 12 months, for bipolar. After slipping up, and just getting over a manic, and depressive episode, i would much rather be on it than off it. And yes,I’ve been trying different types of drugs for 13 years – lithium is the first one that has allowed me a normal life.

  • October 11, 2008 at 12:09 am

    I have been on lithium for a few months now. I have tried Geodone, Abilify, Lamictal, and been on many things like xanax and colonzapam for anxiety. Im 19 years old and I agree with the person up there who said the best thing someone with bi-polar disorder can do is find the right spouse. I’m very lucky to have married so young and found someone who can accept me for who I am and help me through it. I inherited bi-polar disorder from my mother and have been fighting with it for a while. Lithium is a god send for her who struggles with manic episodes. With me I tend to lean towards the depression side. Lithium has also worked wonders for me. I also thought Lamactial was a wonderful drug, but Lithium takes the cake! 🙂

  • October 22, 2008 at 9:55 am

    The love of my life is currently taking Lithium, and I believe he is also taking Abilify. Lithium has done wonders for him, and you’d best believe I thank the stars every day for this miracle drug.

    Although I have a question… if anyone knows the answer… what would happen if he went out and got drunk? Would the Lithium levels become harmful? Would it affect him negatively and perhaps cause him to cycle?

    I am just a bit worried, for I have heard bad things, but I have also heard good. Any input on this would be helpful, for I have known nothing about Bipolar disorder before I met him.

  • October 22, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Hi, it’s me again… I overlooked a couple of the above posts in the hurry to ask my question, and I realized that my question had already been answered!

    My apologies…

  • October 22, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    I just started Lithium. I am glad to hear it works for so many. I have bad suicidal tendancies and that is my main concern. The rest I can live with. I can.. I do not know about people in my life! LOL

    Day 5 today… how long does it take to start working???


  • November 2, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    I don’t see how anyone can say lithium orotate does not work. It IS working as I write this. I do not like the idea of needing ANY medication but for the first time in a very long time I feel “normal.” I went for a walk and flashed on the fact that I haven’t felt this normal since I was a kid before puberty. And it’s only been 6 days. I purposely did not have any preconceived ideas so that there wouldn’t be any placebo effect and had low expectations, except maybe a fear of side effects – which I did not have. No side effects at ALL which is unsual for me.


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