What Is Lithium Treatment for Depression?


Quick Answer

Lithium is an alkali-metal/salt that relieves the symptoms of depression, according to PsychEducation.org. Studies have shown that lithium lowers the risk of suicide risk in depressive patients, claims PsychCentral. The risk was lowered by over 60 percent in patients who took lithium compared with patients who took a placebo.

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What Is Lithium Treatment for Depression?
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Full Answer

To both relieve depression and prevent suicide, doctors often prescribe lithium to be taken for long periods of time, says PsychCentral.

Medical experts believe that lithium works by regulating the amount of sodium in muscles and nerves, says Drugs.com. Others believe that the benefits of lithium come from its neurotrophic abilities, says PsychEducation.org. It also supports the smooth running of the patient's biological clock.

Many patients who take lithium do not experience side effects, says PsychEducation.org. However, others experience such side effects as weakness, nausea and vomiting, itching skin and hair that grows dry and thin, claims Drugs.com. Others experience mild hand tremors, clumsiness, weight gain and bloating.

Great thirst and an increased need to urinate are also side effects of lithium, says PsychEducation.org. Because of this, it is important that people taking lithium stay hydrated. They also need to have their kidney function monitored, especially if they're on high doses of lithium.

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