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Reconsidering Lithium in Treating Depression

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Reconsidering Lithium in Treating Depression

  1. 1. By Dr. Lester Sandman
  2. 2.  Dr. Lester Sandman is a Bellevue, Washington, psychiatrist who maintains a referral-based private practice. He consults with primary care physicians in the local area in treating patients with mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Lester Sandman stays informed on the latest developments in psychiatric medicine. One recently posted article at www.lestersandman.com details a new study of lithium and its effectiveness in treating bipolar disorder. Until the mid-1990s, lithium represented 80 percent of prescriptions for bipolar disorder, but this changed as drugs with fewer perceived side effects such as Depakote entered the market.
  3. 3.  Despite lithium’s reputation as a medication with excessive side effects, the study points to a situation in which patients taking Depakote are 2.7 times more likely to commit suicide than those taking lithium. Published in the “Journal of the American Medical Society,” the findings make a persuasive case for physicians reconsidering lithium as first- line depression treatment. At this point, it is not known why lithium seems to be associated with significantly fewer suicides.

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