Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services

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Psychopharmacology 

Lithium: Underappreciated and Underused?

Robert H. Howland, MD

  • Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services. 2007;45(8):13-17
  • Posted August 1, 2007

Abstract

Lithium is a remarkable drug with a fascinating history. Although less popular than other anticonvulsant and atypical antipsychotic mood-stabilizing drugs, lithium is beneficial in bipolar disorder and may be superior to other drugs for treatment-resistant depression and for reducing suicidal behaviors. Various studies have demonstrated that lithium has neuroprotective and neurotrophic cellular effects in the brain, suggesting it may be “brain healthy” for patients with mood disorders and useful for patients with other neurodegenerative disorders. In this article, I describe the history of lithium and review important aspects of its clinical use.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Howland is Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The author discloses that he has no significant financial interests in any product or class of products discussed directly or indirectly in this activity, including research support.

Address correspondence to Robert H. Howland, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, 3811 O’Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; e-mail: HowlandRH@upmc.edu.

Abstract

Lithium is a remarkable drug with a fascinating history. Although less popular than other anticonvulsant and atypical antipsychotic mood-stabilizing drugs, lithium is beneficial in bipolar disorder and may be superior to other drugs for treatment-resistant depression and for reducing suicidal behaviors. Various studies have demonstrated that lithium has neuroprotective and neurotrophic cellular effects in the brain, suggesting it may be “brain healthy” for patients with mood disorders and useful for patients with other neurodegenerative disorders. In this article, I describe the history of lithium and review important aspects of its clinical use.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Howland is Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The author discloses that he has no significant financial interests in any product or class of products discussed directly or indirectly in this activity, including research support.

Address correspondence to Robert H. Howland, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, 3811 O’Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; e-mail: HowlandRH@upmc.edu.

ABSTRACT

Lithium is a remarkable drug with a fascinating history. Although less popular than other anticonvulsant and atypical antipsychotic mood-stabilizing drugs, lithium is beneficial in bipolar disorder and may be superior to other drugs for treatment-resistant depression and for reducing suicidal behaviors. Various studies have demonstrated that lithium has neuroprotective and neurotrophic cellular effects in the brain, suggesting it may be “brain healthy” for patients with mood disorders and useful for patients with other neurodegenerative disorders. In this article, I describe the history of lithium and review important aspects of its clinical use.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Howland is Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The author discloses that he has no significant financial interests in any product or class of products discussed directly or indirectly in this activity, including research support.

Address correspondence to Robert H. Howland, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, 3811 O’Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; e-mail: HowlandRH@upmc.edu.

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