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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: What happens if you are taking lithium and you don't need it

 Lynoth - Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:41 pm

I'm just wondering - what if I'm really not crazy? I know getting worse with age is often part of the package, but is it possible taking the lithium is actually CAUSING my symptoms? This isn't something I am comfortable discussing with my doctor because I'm not sure she would answer me honestly for fear of opening my HMO up to malpractice charges (not that I would, I accepted the diagnosis and took the poison, I bear a share of responsibility!)

I don't really think this is the case, several doctors over the years have treated me and not one has questioned the base diagnosis, although I did get shifted from type II to type I some while back as the hallucinations became more problematic.

I should note, I take a very low dose because I am VERY difficult to medicate - I get horrible unlivable side effects from almost everything, but I am somewhat resistant to the "good" effects. Blah.

Thank you for your time and expertise.

 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:53 pm

Hi Lynoth,

Lithium is the gold standard in the treatment of Bipolar Disorders. There is not much distance between therapeutic levels of the medication and toxicity, thus the need for frequent monitoring via blood levels. It enhances mood stability in both mania and depression. Potential side effects can include muscle tremors, twitching, gait disturbance, and hypothyroidism. Long term use can contribute to the development of hypoparathyroidism, bone loss, hypertension, kidney damage, diabete insipidus and weight gain. Bipolar Disorder may improve with aging.

Lithium use, because of its mood stabilizing action, would not be suspect in contributing to symptoms of mania or of depression. I hope you will discuss it with your doctor, both for reassurance and so that she is aware of your concerns.

Good luck to you!

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