Essay on The Efficacy of Lithium in Treating Bipolar Disorder

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The Efficacy of Lithium in Treating Bipolar Disorder

Lithium is a psychotropic drug that became available in
1970 as a mood stabilizing medication for the long-term
treatment of bipolar disorder. It has been shown to reduce the
frequency and severity of manic states, as well as the
depression that is concomitant with bipolar disorder. Much
research has been done in the short duration of lithium's
employment to evaluate its efficacy and side effects.
As stated above, "Lithium stabilizes the mood of a bipolar
patient, preventing a relapse into either mania or depression"
(Kalat, 2004, p.472). Bipolar disorder (also known as manic-
depressive illness), is characterized by the presence of the
following symptoms: motor
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Prior
to pursuing treatment for these symptoms however, the type of
bipolar disorder a person has should be clarified. People who
have a history of manic episodes are diagnosed as bipolar I
depressives, while bipolar II depression is characterized by a
history of hypomania, which can go undetected. The main
difference between hypomania and mania is that the former
induces rapid thoughts which lead to feelings of euphoric
elation and omnipotence, whereas rapid thoughts in the latter
induce feelings of anger, fear, confusion, and
uncontrollability. It is important to remember that people
suffering from bipolar disorder often have periods of normal
behavior in between their mania and depression. It is the
abnormal behaviors that lithium aims to modify, and several
primary behavior changes occur once a patient is on lithium
treatment.

To begin, the Food and Drug Administration warns that
lithium is harmful to the offspring of pregnant and nursing
mothers (2005, 5). The FDA further warns that, "the ability to
tolerate lithium is greater during the acute manic phase and
decreases when symptoms subside" (2005, 8). Therefore, in
order to avoid neurotoxicity from lithium which can lead to
fatality, patients must consult a physician regularly to be sure
they are not consuming excessive doses. Lithium appears to be
the most effective…

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