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The effect of lithium in bipolar disorder: a review of recent research evidence

Authors


Corresponding author: Prof. Mario Maj, Clinica Psichiatrica, Primo Policlinico Universitario, Largo Madonna delle Grazie, Naples, Italy. Fax: +390815666523; e-mail: majmario@tin.it

Abstract

Maj M. The effect of lithium in bipolar disorder: a review of recent research evidence.

Bipolar Disord 2003: 5: 180–188. © Blackwell Munksgaard, 2003

Recently published clinical research on lithium is briefly reviewed. The antimanic effect of lithium is supported by recent evidence. It is confirmed that a drastic reduction of affective morbidity is very frequent in bipolar patients receiving lithium prophylaxis regularly for several years, but that the impact of prophylaxis on the course of bipolar disorder is significantly limited by the high drop-out rate. Lithium does seem to be efficacious also in bipolar disorder with mood-incongruent psychotic features or with rapid cycling. The effect of lithium prophylaxis does not seem to decrease over time, at least in the large majority of patients. The recurrence risk is increased in the months following lithium discontinuation. Lithium seems to exert an antisuicidal effect in bipolar patients.

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