Essay on Lithium and Bipolar Disorder

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Lithium and Bipolar Disorder


The drug lithium has been used for a variety of disorders such as
gout, diabetes, and epilepsy for over 100 years. It was not until
1949 when John Cade discovered that lithium had a calming effect
on guinea pigs that the possibilities of it being used for mania
were explored (Paykel, 1992). Since then, lithium has been
established as one of the primary treatments for manic depression
disorder. In the body of this paper we will explore the chemistry
of lithium, the synaptic transmitters involved, the parts of the
neuron affected, the inhibitory and excitatory potential changes,
the ion channels effected, the physiological changes, the primary
behavior changes, the side
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When lithium is combined with other atoms, several useful
molecules can be created. For the purposes of this paper we will
consider the lithium salts, such as lithium carbonate, lithium
citrate, and lithium sulfate. These molecules, among others, are
used in psychiatry for the treatment of bipolar I disorder.
Lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) has an atomic weight of 73.89, and is
the most popular of the lithium salts in use today (Johnson,
1980). It is not clear why this is, as there does not appear to be
a significant difference between lithium carbonate and the other
lithium salts. For a complete listing of lithium salts currently
in use, see table 1. Lithium salts are preferred for medical use
because they are soluble in water, whereas natural lithium is
found in silicate form and is therefore not water soluble. Lithium
salts have a half life of approximately 1830 hours in the body,
depending on the weight of the subject (Williams, 1973).


Lithium is usually taken orally in pill form, or injected directly
into the bloodstream. In pill form, there are normal and time
release doses available. Because the margin between a therapeutic
dose and a toxic dose (therapeutic index) is so small, the time
release form is more popular. In this way, the…

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