Can Lithium Increase Cycling?
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Q  Can Lithium Increase Cycling?


While I know that every medication will respond differently to a variety of people, I would just like to know if there has ever been a link between Lithium and it making people exhibit greater symptoms of Bipolar illness (specifically rapid cycling)? I've been on Lithium (1,800mg / day) for approximately 2 1/2 to 3 months and the higher my dosage goes (I started out at 600mg / day), the more rapidly I seem to cycle from depression (with suicidal ideations) to rage. Thank you for your time.
 

Hello John -- 
I've not seen this happen, in fact I routinely tell folks that lithium is one of the few medications we have with some "antidepressant" potential that does not run the risk of increasing cycling.  However, from what we are learning recently about how lithium works, I can imagine that it is possible for lithium to act like antidepressants do, even though I've never clearly seen it myself, nor ever having heard it described by mood experts.  But you're describing it, so I'm chalking up a mark in that column:  I've now heard, once, of lithium possibly increasing cycling.  Of course the problem is, how can we know for sure that something else is not associated?  Including just some underlying change in what the lithium is supposed to be treating....   So we should list this one in the "not sure but important to listen" category, for now, I think.  

Dr. Phelps


Published April, 2003
 

 

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