Bipolar Jacket


When used to treat bipolar disorder, lithium is typically taken in pill form once or twice a day. The dosage is usually adjusted over time to find the most effective dose for each individual. Blood tests are often done to monitor the level of lithium in the blood, as too high of a level can cause side effects, and too low of a level may not be effective in controlling bipolar symptoms.

Lithium is most effective in treating the manic or hypomanic episodes of bipolar disorder, and it may also help prevent future episodes. Some studies suggest that lithium may also be effective in reducing the risk of suicide in people with bipolar disorder.

Potential Side Effects of Lithium

While lithium can be an effective treatment for bipolar disorder, it does have potential side effects. These can include tremors, increased thirst and urination, weight gain, and kidney problems, among others. As with any medication, it is important to work closely with a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate medication and dosage for an individual’s specific needs, and to monitor for potential side effects.

Blood Tests

When a person is taking lithium for the treatment of bipolar disorder, regular blood tests are usually performed to monitor the level in the bloodstream. This is because it has a narrow therapeutic range, meaning that the difference between an effective dose and a toxic dose is relatively small. Monitoring the level of lithium in the blood is important to ensure that the medication is working effectively and not causing harm.

The blood test is typically done by drawing a sample of blood from a vein in the arm. The blood is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results of the blood test can indicate the level of lithium in the bloodstream, and whether it falls within the therapeutic range.

The therapeutic range for lithium can vary depending on the individual and other factors such as age, weight, and kidney function. Generally, the therapeutic range is considered to be between 0.6 and 1.2 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). Blood levels below this range may not be effective in controlling bipolar symptoms, while levels above this range can be toxic and cause serious side effects.

If the blood test shows that the lithium level is too low, the healthcare provider may adjust the dosage or frequency of the medication. If the lithium level is too high, the healthcare provider may reduce the dosage or temporarily stop the medication until the level returns to within the therapeutic range.

It is important to have regular blood tests as directed by the healthcare provider when taking lithium, as well as to report any symptoms or side effects that may indicate a problem with the medication.

Other Mood Stabilizers

You can learn about other medications, such as more mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants here: medications used to treat bipolar disorder.