Hope everyone is just as excited by the prospect of a short week as I am! I am kicking off this shortened week as I always do, with the latest installment of our weekly series, Medication Monday. Today we are talking about lithium.
Lithium is a naturally occurring element found in trace amounts in almost every rock and stone around, hence its name (lithos is Greek for stone). While we don’t know exactly why it works, it is used as a treatment for a variety of mental health medications, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and sometimes even ADHD. One thought is that it increases the activity of chemical messengers in the brain, thus having a positive impact on the someone’s mental health.
It is considered safe generally, although it is potentially unsafe for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. It should also be stopped at least two weeks before any major surgery because of its ability to interfere with surgical procedures involving anesthesia. One of it’s side effects is irregular heart rhythm, so it may not be right for people already at risk of heart disease.
Other possible side effects include nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, muscle weakness, and fatigue. You should talk to your doctor about if lithium is right for you.
As always, Medication Monday is not meant as a substitute for medical advice. Rather it is a brief introduction to mental health medications that will hopefully educate while also reducing the stigma surrounding mental health medications.
Lastly, if you have any experience with lithium, or if you have suggestions for other mental health medications you want covered, please let me know!