Chances of Relapse if Stop Lithium?
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Q:  Chances of Relapse if Stop Lithium?


Is it possible to take lithium for a good number of years and then not need it? If a person was to stop taking lithium after a considerable ammount of time what would the chances of them having a relapse be.


Dear Tim --
Those chances would be at least as high as they were before taking lithium, because the medication does not appear to "change anything" in the brain to make relapses less likely -- except while it's being taken.  However, there is pretty good evidence showing that if you go off lithium quickly, your relapse chances are even higher than they would be were you not taking it.  I'm not making this up to scare you into taking it, unfortunately.  This is a real concern.  Going off lithium appears to be something best done over several months.  One expert I talked to recently spoke of taking a year to taper patients off.  So be careful and talk this over with your doc' extensively in advance, ok?

Dr. Phelps  


Published September, 2001

 

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