Metabolic Changes & Lithium
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Q:  Metabolic Changes & Lithium

I had a weight gain of 40 pounds while taking lithium for nine months.  Besides the weight gain, I had terrible problems with skin boils, eczema and cognitive blunting.  I've been off the lithium (gone the omega 3 route) for over two years now and while I've never felt better mentally, I have yet to take off the weight no matter how much I exercise and watch what I eat.  The fish oil I take adds up to only 90 calories per day so I doubt that's the problem.  Is the metabolic change lithium can cause permanent?  I would think after two years of being off lithium my metabolism would get back to normal.


Dear TD -- 
If you are female, I'd be more concerned about "
metabolic syndrome" issues, though these are more ascribed to Depakote than lithium.  In that case, I think the answer is yes:  apparent metabolic changes can seem to last long after the medication (which may have caused them; even that is not crystal clear; though it's more clear for Zyprexa than anything else). 

If you are male, then these questions are even more unanswered, though it still looks to me that the "metabolic syndrome" analysis may apply.  

Would you write to me please and give dose/type of omega-3 fatty acids; how long it took before you saw benefit, as best you could tell; side effects if any, now; and cost?  (   I'm keeping track of such things, obviously.   Thanks. 

Dr. Phelps

Published March, 2003


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