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Is Lithium used only for Bipolar?


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At least, I don't THINK I'm bipolar.  I was coming off a bad depression about a year ago and I was starting to feel like I'd be okay, but every once in a while, I felt like I was "slipping" back into deep depression.  My doctor put me on Lithium.  I haven't noticed any difference while taking it.  Eventually, I came out of the depression altogether.  I'm on Paxil 40 mg.  I don't know if that's really helping, either, but I'm afraid that if I stop taking either one, I'll be in for something major.  Any thoughts?

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Guest 7 unlogged

lithium potentiates antidepressants; that is, makes 'em work better. and lith will pull you out of deep suicidal depressions. lith+pax will pull you out the rest of the way to baseline.

7

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oops, to reply to your question, lithium is not just for bipolar. it's also adjunctive treatment (to an antidepressant) for refractory major depression.

sorry for not logging in. i'm feeling glum.

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My Pdoc added lithium to my cocktail about month ago (with wellbutrin, lamictal, and seroquel).  He made clear that this was not a standard medication to take for depression, but it is used sometimes.  He wanted to try because, while not bipolar, I was still having very rapid mood swings. 

(The first three months were bliss--probably a bit manic, just enough to enjoy, not enough to worry.  Not getting that anymore, but I still won't give it up.)

Anyway, my Pdoc also said that if things go well, he'd like to try tapering some of the other meds, and hopefully removing them.  I'm wary of that myself and will probably fight it, since I have no noticable side effects from the non-lithium drugs.  I think his point is that you would never prescribe lithium as a first line of defense in depression, and you would never drop whatever meds you are taking just so you can start lithium, but at that point, if lithium works, it may well work without the other meds.

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Hi Zanne!

One way to tell what the purpose of the lithium is: check the dose.  For Bipolar you will usually get a "Therapeutic Dose" that is determined using blood tests.  It might work out to 900mg per day or more.

You may not have had to get blood tests and may have gotten a dose of 300mg per day or less.  That would be your clue that it's not for Bipolar Disorder.

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zanne and others...

There is growing thought that refractory depression may actually be somewhere on the bipolar spectrum, even if you don't have manic episodes. Here is a great resource of info about BPII, which explains so much of this: http://www.psycheducation.org/start/BPIntro.htm 

As the title on the webpage says Mood swings without "manic" episodes: Bipolar II -- more than plain depression, but never delusional or psychotic. Has a great deal of detail, if you want to really get into understanding this. Was very enlightening for me.

Best wishes...

revlow

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Yes, here is another vote for Lithium as an augmentation for an SSRI or other AD. It will make the AD more potent.

Also check out Lamictal and Seroquel, and both are very good for BP depression and are "off label" for MDD.

Best Wishes,

Melinda aka Loon

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