Treatment Corner: Bipolar Disorder

Here in treatment corner, I’ll be going over various options that are used to help individuals with their troubles. Today will be focused on a drug called lithium carbonate, which is one of the most common methods of treating bipolar disorder.

Specifically, lithium carbonate treats the manic portions of the disorder, symptoms of which include not just joy and excitability but also things like aggressive behavior, anger and less need to sleep. There more symptoms than these but they are by far the most common.

Although results and dosages vary from case to case, in my personal experience, lithium carbonate is very effective on this portion of the condition when taken properly and dosages are adjusted in a timely manner. As with any medication, however, there are side effects. Some of the most common side effects of lithium are weight gain, tremors, and stomach discomfort. Stomach issues and tremors are particularly exaggerated when the lithium is building up in the system to it’s full effect, a process that can take up to two months, or when too many doses have been missed.

The most important side effect of lithium also means it must be taken very carefully according to the doctor’s orders. Lithium toxicity is a serious condition that develops if too much lithium builds up in a patient’s system. Lithium toxicity includes exacerbated versions of the base side effects and if not treated can lead to a coma.

It really sounds all in all like the potential side effects might be more trouble than its worth. I can only speak for myself on this one and I would agree with that surface level assessment, but having been on lithium for going on two years, it’s amazing the difference it makes. It’s a difference that is all the more noticeable if you forget to take a couple of doses. I vividly remember a time shortly after my two month build up where I forgot to take it, and the difference was so stark that I went around asking family members, “How the hell did you put up with me before now? HOW?!”

Works Cited

“Lithium Carbonate 200mg Modified-release Tablets – Mania and Bipolar Disorder – EMC Medicines Guides.” Home – Electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC). N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2015.

“Lithium: Drug Uses, Dosage and Side Effects –” | Prescription Drug Information, Interactions & Side Effects. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2015.

“Side Effects of Lithium Carbonate – Mania and Bipolar Disorder – NHS Choices.” NHS Choices – Your Health, Your Choices. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2015.