Home » Blogs » Mental Health Humor » Why Is Lithium NOT The Go To Drug For Bipolar Disorder Anymore?

Why Is Lithium NOT The Go To Drug For Bipolar Disorder Anymore?

Mental Health Humor Lithium


Mental Health Humor:
Lithium Bottle: Was I your first… Bipolar Medication?
Caption: Sooner or later you’ll breakdown and try old faithful (lithium)

Why is lithium (brand names Eskalith, Lithobid) not the go to drug for Bipolar Disorder anymore? 

Dr. John M. Grohol, Psy.D. says about lithium that it’s,

“often overlooked in the conversation about things that work for bipolar disorder is the old stand-by, lithium. Lithium is a naturally occurring salt that was, prior to the past decade or so, the medication treatment of choice for bipolar disorder. It is now seen more as a secondary treatment with doctors instead preferring the pricier atypical antipsychotics. That’s because lithium has some unpleasant side effects (but hey, what medication doesn’t?)”

Reading over “Limits Of Lithium” you may understand why some ‘preferring the pricier atypical antipsychotics over the old faithful Lithium’. Lithium’s optimum performance is based on your “balanced level” or “constant level” of lithium in your bloodstream. Once again if you are taking lithium, you’ll need to make sure you don’t miss or skip a dose. The importance can mean the difference between dealing with unwanted side-effects or triggering a manic episode if lithium levels are too low or too high.

“9 million people in the U.S. struggle with the disease at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Although roughly a dozen drugs are approved to treat bipolar mania and prevent or delay the onset of manic or depressive episodes, in many ways, lithium stands alone. Psychiatrists often turn to lithium—usually given as the salt lithium carbonate—as a first-line drug for patients. Its ability to calm the highs of mania and lift the lows of depression has been known for more than 60 years. It’s the only medication that demonstrably reduces the risk of suicide in bipolar patients. And it’s inexpensive.”– “Limits Of Lithium” Volume 91 Issue 12 | pp. 15-20 Issue Date: March 25, 2013

For therapeutic levels, lithium typically needs at least six weeks of popping the pills and consuming lithium before it begins working or reaches full working effectiveness. On top of that per your p-doctor determination, you’ll need frequent “blood tests during your treatment because lithium can affect kidney or thyroid function” says an article on Web M.D., which coincides with the above-article PDF file…which I encourage you to read on the “Limits Of Lithium.” (FREE DOWNLOAD Limits Of Lithium PDF )

(to be continued)

Why Is Lithium NOT The Go To Drug For Bipolar Disorder Anymore?

Chato Stewart

Chato Stewart has a mission, to draw and use humor as a positive tool to live, to cope with the debilitating effects symptoms of mental illness. Chato Stewart is a Mental Health Hero and Advocate. Recovery Peer Specialist board-certified in Florida. Chato is the artist behind the cartoons series Mental Health Humor, Over-Medicated, and The Family Stew - seen here in his blog posts. The cartoons are drawn from his personal experience of living with bipolar disorder (and other labels). [email protected]

3 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Stewart, C. (2014). Why Is Lithium NOT The Go To Drug For Bipolar Disorder Anymore?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 19 Feb 2014
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.