Lithium

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  • A drug often used to stabilize mood in people with bipolar disorder. Administered as lithium carbonate, lithium has been found to be effective in 30% to 50% of patients with bipolar disorder. The effects of lithium (and mood stabilizers) may take up to two weeks to appear, suggesting that lithium affects the biology of depression via some long-term compensatory adjustment of the nervous system. Lithium use needs to be closely monitored because of possible toxic effects and mild impairments in memory. Severe overdoses can lead to coma or death. While newer anticonvulsant drugs have been used as an alternative to lithium, their long-term benefits in reducing mania and the risk of suicide have not been established, so lithium remains the standard drug for the treatment ...

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