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Unread 05-13-2002, 12:47 PM   #1
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Default What does Lithium do?

My doctor just gave me lithobid. Said to take one 300mg pill twice a day.
What exactly is lithium supposed to do? I can't find much on the internet that I can understand. Does it help with low energy? Low moods? Does it help one to focus? Everything I did find, made me wonder if I should even take it. Sounds scary. I'm not on anything else at the time. Is this one of those drugs that take time to work, or do you notice the effects right away? I just have no idea. I don't know what to expect. I know drugs act different on different people, I'm just trying to get a feel for what some of you have found to be true of lithium-in your own case.

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Unread 05-13-2002, 08:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: What does Lithium do?

Well CamW can give you the "technical" end of it also the "other" end of it. I've been on 900mg a day of lithobid since Oct.2001 cause Depakote wasn't working for me plus made me gain 20lbs in 6 months, lithium only made me gain 10lbs since last year. I find it to be a good med. it is just that because I am no longer manic/hyper I now lack energy but who knows it can be this extra damn weight making me less energetic, who knows? The positive thing is that I no longer "sweat" the small things in life, which makes situations more bearable than before. I was diagnosed as being a "bipolar II" (mild) all because the way I reacted to my husbands"s "close" relationship with his pretty female co-worker, well there were "lies" I came across which triggered this whole thing, otherwise I was always considered a real stable person who had their act together. I had no side effects from the lithium, my doctor started me gradually and it went smooth. Depakote made me tired, lose some hair, and gain weight. Lithium is nice cause it is non sedating. The dose you've been put on is even less than mine so maybe you will not have any side effects. I only noticed in the begining that I was once in awhile more thirsty than usual but that wasn't a problem cause I do not drink as much water as I should so this helped me drink a little more Every few months I have blood levels done, no big deal, with depakote you have to have blood levels done too. I hope I gave you some info., my brother has been on lithium for 30yrs and he has been fine all this time It comes from the "earth" so I console myself with knowing it is a natural element, ha!ha!
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Unread 05-13-2002, 09:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: What does Lithium do?

Oh I forgot to answer your question about low moods, it does help there too, you see it "stabilizes" mood swings, kind of puts you in the middle of things. I'm presently also taking celexa a antidepresant but eventually I may not need to, I know in time my brother did not need any additional meds., just had to take the lithium after awhile. Like you stated, everyone is different so you realize that not everyone has the same response to medications, but researching any meds. doctors prescribe is good to do but on the other hand do not let all the side effects you read about scare you, not everyone experiences all of them, some not all it is just that they have to state and report all info known. Sometimes people will not even try something when they read the stuff which is sad cause they deprive them of a possible cure or remedy to their problems. I always say "what the hell, I'll try it" if it don't work then hey I'll ditch it. Give it a try, take care and let us know how you do.
"darkeyes"

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Unread 05-14-2002, 01:18 PM   #4
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Default tracyrip--

Darkeyes is right on about how some will have side effects but we should not judge a medicine from what others say. Sometimes I don't even read the side effects of medicines on the leaflet and I just see how I react to it. I do not take Lithium but I see that Darkeyes, her brother and many others have had excellent results with it. I am one of the rare cases, I believe, that had bad intestinal problems from it and had to stop it as a result. I hope things improve for you tracyrip!

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Unread 05-15-2002, 03:43 AM   #5
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Default Re: What does Lithium do? - Darkeyes

DE - Do I have to go into the mechanics of lithium blocking a runaway intracellular phosphoinositol cycle in neurons and subsequently resulting in the stabilization of intracellular calcium ion concentrations by normalizing the ion's influx into the cell, as well as it's release from the the endoplasmic reticulum.

This is just one theory. Other evidence show that lithium decreases Na,K-ATPase activity in neurons (esp. in the hippocampus) and this decreases neuronal membrane excitability in hyperactive nerve cells.

Lithium also interacts with all the major neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, acetylcholine, glutamate) in complex ways, resulting in a modulation of electrical signaling in the brain.

Chronic lithium use may alter signal transduction cascades and gene expression, which may result in long term changes neuronal plasticity and cytoskeletal remodeling. I guess the lithium acts like a good city traffic engineer by altering patterns of electrical signaling (in neurons rather than traffic lights) throughout critical regions of the brain.

Or could it be lithium's actions on second messenger systems (eg. adenylyl cyclase, several kinases, and various G-proteins) that result in lithium's mood stabilizing effects?

Who knows how lithium works? The more I read about it, the less I seem to know. Clinically, I have seen lithium decrease both mania and depression in people who were diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

So, what does lithium do? I guess it helps many people, who otherwise would not be able, to lead "normal", productive, and full lives.

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Unread 10-11-2013, 04:46 PM   #6
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Default Re: What does Lithium do?

Take all this with a grain of salt because I was prescribed Lamictal + lithium at the same time & the doc has changed doses of each several times. It's hard to tease out the effects of both of them, but I'm getting better at it, so feel free to ask about Lamictal too.

Almost immediately, I felt a few "sparks", like my brain was coming alive. I had a couple positive long-term thoughts, had a small amount of interest in fun things I used to do, etc. Barely motivating, but compared to the infinite black hole I was in, I took what I could get.

And I need to say this now: DON'T DRINK ALCOHOL FOR QUITE SOME TIME AFTER STARTING LITHIUM (or any psych med for that matter). I had one beer a few days after starting lithium, and all I'll say was that the experience was so unpleasant that I didn't drink again for nearly two months.

For me, Gatorade, Powerade, drinks with electrolytes in them helped me out. Lithium is similar chemically to the electrolytes (which I'm guessing is a big part of all the dehydration/thirst side-effects?), so it seems to make some sense they'd provide some benefit.

The first 2-3 weeks for me was side-effect hell: extreme sensitivity to cold (like down inside my bones, hard to explain), thirst, headaches, lethargy, messed up appetite, confusion, clumsiness, etc. Lights also seemed much brighter (FWIW, Lamictal does that too), like "wear sunglasses in the shade because even that's painful" bright. At first, I just felt totally dull, like my brain was just stuffed with cotton & wrapped in foam. It wasn't the total & complete fatigued zombie feeling I had with Remeron though.

Maybe toward the end of the third week, the good stuff started & the bulk of side-effects started to dissipate. The most noticeable was a pleasant (yet pretty intense) "I don't really give a f**k" kind of attitude towards a huge number of things that used to cause anxiety & frustration. I'm a terrible golfer & needless to say, I get pretty frustrated while I'm on the course. My Dad & I played a round 3-4 weeks after starting lithium, and it was the best round of golf ever. My score sucked, but I didn't care. 95% of the typical golfing frustrations simply didn't enter my head. I'm betting that was about half lithium/half lamictal, but whatev.

Also around that time, I remember numerous occasions when watching TV where colors would look AMAZING, sharper yet softer at the same time (best I can explain), intense waves of a warm, glowing feeling washed over me randomly, I'd get the urge to rub my sweat pants/leather furniture/blankets/etc. because they simply felt incredible. Again, not sure what exactly caused all those perceptual/sensory changes, but I didn't care one bit at that time.

It felt nice to be alive.

Most everything settled down/leveled out somewhere in the 4-6 week range. I landed a great job a couple weeks after that, and here I am now. Taking it one day at a time.

6 Months later, light (especially neon lights & traffic lights) still looks slightly more intense. Again, it's kind of a soft, glowy effect, yet hits me harder and lasts an extra moment (like when your picture is taken with a flash & your eyes get overstimulated for a moment). I would imagine it has something to due with more brain machinery being "online" or something like that (some studies suggest it helps grow gray matter in certain parts of your brain). Being in an office, walking through the park, in a dark room watching a Blu-ray, etc. feels like a more "full" experience. All-in-all, I feel lighter, clearer, and almost like it provides "padding" for my brain. Takes the edge off life in a different (better) way than alcohol/xanax & makes it easier to take in experiences.

I shouldn't have to say this, but DON'T EVEN THINK OF TAKING LITHIUM RECREATIONALLY!!! Some of the effects I experienced were definitely more pleasant than normal, but psych meds are prescribed to make you feel better & more functional in the first place. You These meds can all definitely be...crazy.

Given my experience with lithium (definitely not all smiles and rainbows), I see why it was the first legit psych med out there. I see why it's still in use for bipolar, and I definitely see why the lithium/lamictal combo is widely regarded as one of the best current treatments for bipolar. Definitely been a lifesaver (pun intended!)

Hopefully that helped somebody out. I'm absolutely happy to share more, and I'd also like to hear about other's experiences with lithium, especially if they're taking it with Lamictal.
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