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Lithium Carbonate

Generic Name: Lithium Carbonate

Drug Class: Antimanic

Table of Contents

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Overview

Lithium Carbonate is an antimanic agent used to treat Manic-Depressive Disorder (Bipolar Disorder). This medication may also be used to prevent cluster headaches. It may also be used to treat other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Lithium smoothes out the highs (manic) and lows (depression) in bipolar patients by restoring the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. It is sometimes referred to as a mood stabilizer.

Using this medication continuously may help to reduce the frequency of manic episodes. It also may decrease manic episode symptoms, including anxiousness, aggressive or hostile behaviors, feelings that others wish to harm you, exaggerated feelings of well-being, irritability, or rapid/loud speech.


This information is for educational purposes only. Not every known side effect, adverse effect, or drug interaction is in this database. If you have questions about your medicines, talk to your health care provider.

How to Take It

Follow the directions for using this medicine provided by your doctor. Take this medicine with food. Drinking extra fluids (8 to 10 glasses of water or other liquid) while you are taking this medicine is recommended. Check with your healthcare provider for more instructions. Do NOT change the amount of salt in your diet unless you have talked with your doctor.

Side Effects

Side effects that may occur while taking this medicine include:

  • mild thirst
  • frequent urination
  • fine hand tremor
  • drowsiness
  • weight gain
  • lightheadedness
  • mild nausea

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience:

  • diarrhea
  • lack of awareness
  • unsteadiness or clumsiness
  • ringing in the ears
  • vomiting
  • confusion
  • difficulty walking
  • blue color in fingers and toes
  • poor memory
  • mental depression
  • convulsions or seizures
  • unusual muscle weakness

Warnings & Precautions

  • Tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have heart or kidney disease, an under-active thyroid, or any debilitating medical condition.
  • Tell your doctor immediately if you experience vision changes, unsteadiness on your feet, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, joint swelling, confusion, slurred speech, blurred vision, severe hand trembling, or pain or discoloration of finger/toes, cold hands/feet.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions regarding liquids you can drink /intake amount. Avoid becoming overheated or dehydrated during exercise and in hot weather. In some cases, drinking too much liquid can be as unsafe as not drinking enough.
  • Do not drive, operate machinery, or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how you react to this medicine.
  • AVOID large amounts of caffeine-containing foods and beverages, such as coffee, tea, cocoa, cola drinks, and chocolate.
  • For an overdose, seek medical attention immediately. For non emergencies, contact your local or regional poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Drug Interactions

Before taking any new medicine, either prescription or over-the-counter, check with your doctor or pharmacist. This includes supplements and herbal products. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking medicines that contain ibuprofen (Motrin) or naproxen (Naprosyn).

Dosage & Missed Dose

Use this medicine exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not take more or less of it. Lithium should be taken at the same time every day. It is available in tablet, capsule, extended-release tablet. Dosage varies depending on the condition. The tablets, capsules, and liquid forms of Lithium are usually taken 3-4 times daily. The extended-release tablets are typically taken 2-3 times daily.

Swallow extended-release tablets whole. They should not be split, chewed, or crushed.

Take your next dose as soon as you remember. If it is time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular schedule. Do not double doses or take extra medicine to make up for the missed dose.

Storage

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (preferably not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed.

Pregnancy/Nursing

This medicine has been shown to CAUSE HARM to the human fetus. If you plan on becoming pregnant, discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using this medicine during pregnancy. This medicine is excreted in breast milk. It is advised that you DO NOT breast-feed while taking this medicine unless you have talked to your doctor or pediatrician.

More Information

For more information, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or health care provider, or you can visit this website, https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a681039.html for additional information from the manufacturer of this drug.

 

Lithium Carbonate


Overall Review of this Medication

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12 thoughts on “Lithium Carbonate

  • March 2, 2019 at 1:54 am
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    Didnt work for me. This article is helpful.

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    • July 24, 2019 at 6:26 pm
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      For people with bipolar disorder, lithium can be a lifesaver. There is a reason why it is the first line med for the disorder. It is a double-edged sword, however, as it can also be very dangerous. If you’ve been prescribed lithium, you MUST get your blood tests on time and you must keep track of any side effects and alert your shrink IMMEDIATELY. For those of us it helps, it is a lifesaver. Overmedication or lithium toxicity isn’t to be played with.

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  • July 30, 2019 at 10:38 am
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    I have Bi Polar 1 (not B.P. 2, so I rarely, if ever suffer from true mania) but I have some mania tendencies. I was diagnosed about three years ago. I’ve been taking Lithium Carbonate for two years and three months. It took about three months for me to feel the effect and about two months more to get the dose right. (1350mg) It has works very well for me, in fact it probably saved my life. It’s obviously no cure but it’s helped enormously. Because of its effect as a mood stabiliser I suffer much less from seizures (Complex Partial Seizures), which I am very grateful for. Prior to taking Lithium C. I was in a bad way and having a seizure every 17-19 minutes. [many people who suffer from Bi Polar are completely unaware about this part of the illness. Bi Polar and Epilepsy are related in two ways. Firstly they occur in the same part of the brain and secondly they share a defective gene. Many years ago these two diseases were always managed by Physicians hand in hand but over the past 50 years they’ve been separated. The only thing you’ll notice now is that a GP might prescribe, in fact almost always prescribe, initially at least, epilepsy medication to treat Bi Polar. Also, in many cases if not all, a person with epilepsy will have Bi Polar but the reverse is not the same, as we know. But in my case and not all, I have seizures complex partial seizures, unfortunately I’m unwell again but it won’t be for nearly as long because of Lithium. I had three seizures today and five yesterday all very short but once you know what they are you become to recognise them very quickly. There is nothing you can do to stop them but at least I know what they and I’m not going mad. As I once thought. The longest seizure I had was four hours and 20 min and I was driving a casein a country road, a road I didn’t know very well. It was scary especially when it got dark and started to rain. As you can, I survived it, so I figure, if I can survive that, well, I can survive anything. If anyone does read this and it helps them I’d love to know. If it just helps one person them I’d be stoked. Take care out there, and yes Lithium has had a bad wrap at times, but I swear by. Cheers, Patrick

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    • February 15, 2020 at 4:00 am
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      Hi Patrick,
      Thank you for being so open about your condition. I found the link with bipolar and epilepsy educational. Epilepsy runs in my husband’s family and we think our son is bipolar. I will mention this to his psychiatrist. Glad to know lithium has helped you with both conditions.
      Cheers,
      May

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  • January 14, 2020 at 6:14 am
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    Thanks Patrick. I just got diagnosed dp1 today. I am going to try lithium. I don’t experience seizures, more psychosis. Your comment has made me feel more comfortable about trying lithium carbonate. I am sceptical and I will start with the herbal lithium options.

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    • June 14, 2020 at 5:02 am
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      I’m 30 and lithium carbonate was the best thing to ever happen to me. Growing up my parents and teachers all wrote me off as the “ADD” kid. Parents never took me to get checked because I wasn’t a bad kid they didnt believe in drugging a 12 year old boys will be boys blah blah. I had friends but was never overly popular. Highschool and hormones. U know the drill. I start noticing everyone randomly telling me to be quiet… but not all the time. Didn’t care it was high school. I loved school. 20 mins later. Fucking hated the place. Again blamed hormones. No one ever messed with me cause I was quick to rage and everyone knew it but I never actually hurt anyone in school. Grade 11. I got excited for some reason. Yelling without noticing and someone told me to shut up. Turned around. Instant rage and broke his nose. Suspended and parents where told wouldn’t be aloud back until I was put on ADD medication. Go to the docs and asks about my grades and I’m pretty much top of all my classes, I can pay attention and focused fine.. Doesn’t explain why but sends me to a psych. I thought I was there to get ADD medication. I needed to go back to school so saw this guy 3 times in a week,. Nearly whole last session he’s asking about my home life. Didn’t know why. Didn’t care. Finally goes “highly suspect manic depressive bi polar” that’s when someone explained why I keep getting told to shut up. Cause I got a little excited. And I felt like I won the lottery. Just that happy. I can sit here and explain how tiny things could ruin my mood. I never felt different at all my whole life. That’s why he asked about my family. Cause my dads the exact same so I thought this is normal. They first chucked me on zyprexa, hated back to docs went threw 4 more before landing on lithium. All the other drugs gave me some issue that didn’t feel good. Within 3 months of lithium. I could have a whole conversation with people I just met without getting a weird look at some point for something I was doing. I had a girlfriend. I would wake up…. and get out of bed when I opened my eyes. Before I would lay there and question life and have no self esteem. But the best part was. Unlike the other drugs before lithium. This wasn’t a drug fueled change in my system. I just felt like me. Content with myself. Everyday. Thank u who ever made that crap. U saved my life

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      • August 5, 2020 at 2:11 am
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        I love this. My daughter was diagnosed with major depressive but they are toying with bi polar as well (which I think is the case) and she sounds so much like the situations you mentioned! She just started lithium and this makes me hopeful!!

  • February 26, 2020 at 3:55 am
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    Lithium causes psoriasis

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  • April 7, 2020 at 1:38 pm
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    I’m 17 and lithium works and im not as mean and impulsive i guess but im kind of spacey all the time and i kind of just black out all day. idk i got my diagnosis like a month ago and im still really confused about it all

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  • May 12, 2020 at 10:47 pm
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    I am bipolar 2. I take lithium along with other drugs for this disease. Lithium slowed and quieted my thoughts to begin with with. That is not the case anymore and not just during mania. I am easily subjected to serious side-effects with other drugs but have not had that with lithium. However, when it works it slows all of my thinking not just my racing thoughts. Please follow your doctor’s dosage and not what anyone else takes. Lithium has a VERY narrow therapeutic blood concentration range and can become toxic very easily. More is not better. Consistency seems to be the key when it come to hydration, salt intake and caffine intake. Try not to change those because they can impact the blood concentration. It is a very cheap drug to purchase. Lithium is a useful drug in treating bipolar 2 for many people. Give it a chance if your doctor suggest taking it. There is nothing wrong with it.

    My complaint about this article.
    This article claims to know how lithium works. “Lithium smoothes out the highs (manic) and lows (depression) in bipolar patients by restoring the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain.” It is BELIEVED to restore the balance of neurotransmitters. Lithium has been around for decades yet no one knows how it works within the brain, just like every other mood stabilizer I know of. There are theories but no actual evidence based knowledge of how it works. Which neurotransmitters does it restore? What level does it restore them to? You are extremely wealthy if you can answer that. Please email me a link to any peer-reviewed study that claims to know the mechanics behind lithium. Your version reads better and is more reassuring but it is not accurate.

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  • May 28, 2020 at 9:01 pm
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    Hi,
    I found this very helpful, my doctor wants to start me on lithium. When I was in the military they couldn’t put me on it because of the possible hand tremors side effect, as I worked with bombs and steady hands are a must (I was in the military before I learned I was bipolar). However I did want to question you on one thing; I’m diagnosed bipolar I because I do have mania (specifically mixed mania). I’m always heard that bipolar II is the diagnosis you receive when you don’t have mania, but rather hypomania and depressive episodes. I was originally diagnosed BP II and received a lower disability rating because in the VA’s words “Bipolar II is less sever than bipolar I” (Not something I personally believe) The only reason I mention this is because I want to be sure people are properly informed, and I am honestly wondering if I am wrong. Sorry if this came off rude. I just want to know.
    Thank you

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  • June 27, 2020 at 5:09 pm
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    Any suggestions for first time users not sure if i was diagnosed with bipolar issues but they said that it would help with mood or whatever im 25 and this is alot to process but i just really fearful of the side effects

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APA Reference
Psych Central. (2018). Lithium Carbonate. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/drugs/lithium-carbonate/

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018
Last reviewed: By Christine Traxler, M.D.
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.