Sunday, October 23, 2011

Benefits of Lithium

With all the talk of Lithium and the negative side effects, I thought I would highlight some of the positive effects of taking Lithium for mood disorders.

Research has shown that Lithium may actually repair some of the damage that bipolar disorder causes in the brain. It’s been shown that those with bipolar disorder who take Lithium have an increase in brain volume. This is the opposite effect for those without Lithium who over time show a decrease in brain volume in the hippocampus that directly affects moods and emotions and the amygdale that affects anxiety and mood reactions.
You can read more about it here:
http://blogs.psychcentral.com/bipolar/2011/02/lithium-increased-brain-volume-bipolar-disorder/

In another study from the British Journal of Psychiatry in May 2011, they found that Lithium may protect the brain from dementia by reducing progression of minimal cognitive impairment. Some researchers are even looking into it for the treatment of Alzheimer’s.
You can read more about it here:
http://blogs.psychcentral.com/bipolar/2011/10/bipolar-disorder-dementia/
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8476615/Lithium-slows-development-of-Alzheimers.html

Another important find is that Lithium has proven to significantly reduce the risk of suicide, averaging a 7-fold reduction. This has not been proven with any other mood stabilizer but Lithium.
You can read more about it here:
http://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-disorder-lithium
http://www.mental-health-today.com/bp/mcl2.htm
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC305265/
Dr. Singh mentioned this research:


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References:
Bipolar Beat
Lithium Increased Brain Volumn in Patients with Bipolar Disorder
By Candida Fink, MD
http://blogs.psychcentral.com/bipolar/2011/02/lithium-increased-brain-volume-bipolar-disorder/
Referenced: 10.21.11

Bipolar Beat
Bipolar Disorder and Aging
By Candida Fink, MD
http://blogs.psychcentral.com/bipolar/2011/10/bipolar-disorder-dementia/
Referenced: 10.21.11

The Telegraph
Lithium slows development of Alzheimer’s
By Stephen Adams
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8476615/Lithium-slows-development-of-Alzheimers.html
Referenced: 10.21.11


Bipolar Disorder Today
http://www.mental-health-today.com/bp/mcl2.htm
Referenced: 10.21.11







16 comments:

  1. Awesome Mama Bear, Great work. Congratulations on being featured by "Ask A Bipolar" on facebook. You ROCK!

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  2. Thanks Mel, I had no idea, thanks for the heads up!

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  3. not so sure about the benefits in kids younger than 14 ,but sure about the bad side effects of it,you can also check it on the web.

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  4. Thanks, Mama Bear, for the reminder of the well-documented healing qualities of lithium. The only reason Bug's doctor and I have opted not to have her try it is because it's known for causing weight gain in some people. But obviously your son is a lithium success story!

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  5. This protect the brain nonsense reads like a pharma ad.

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  6. Bugs Mom- I understand this concern. I can share that so far, with our experience my son hasn't gained any weight from Lithium. I wonder what the percentage is on those that gain weight. I also read that some people gain weight because people have an increase of thirst, they may consume more empty calories in their beverages, especially if they meet their additional thirst needs with sodas or juice. Like everything, everyone responds differently. Isn't it complicated!

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  7. Some of us don't have a choice, nothing else has worked. Lithium has been a LIFE saver for my son. We tried just about everything else. The benefits are stability, stability, stability- need i say more?
    Thanks for the post.

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    1. How old is your son and when was he first diagnosed? In hind-sight, at what age do you think he first exhibited signs of BPD?

      Thanks.
      jlh

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    2. My son is now 11 years old. He was around 9 years old when they diagnosed him with a mood disorder, along with impulse control disorder, anxiety disorder etc. He hasn’t officially received a bipolar diagnosis since he is still so young and the symptoms of possible mania don't last long enough as required by the DSM guide. The first time anyone said "bipolar" was back in 2010 after a strange episode in the therapist's parking lot, here is a post that I wrote about what happened and how the therapist thought it was mania, indicating a possible bipolar illness:

      http://mysonhas2brains.blogspot.com/2010/11/mania.html

      We first started seeing significant changes in his behavior when he was 7 years old, it was so different than his norm that at first I wondered that maybe he was being molested at school or something. When I investigated his environment, I found no evidence that anything was causing his behavior change. As time went on, the symptoms got worse and more profound.

      After working with a therapist and charting all his mood issues for months, he was able to determine that the problem was a mood disorder since there was no outside cause for his mood changes. When he started waking up in a bad mood and even punched me in the stomach upon waking, it was a good indicator that the problem was a brain chemistry problem not environmental.

      The first signs we saw were anxiety, night terrors, impulse control issues, sensory issues and speaking about wanting to die. He also mentioned early on of having thoughts of hurting us and how it scared him. He also started having violent rages in first grade. By second grade (still before any meds were introduced) he started looking depressed in school, the teacher shared how he would pull away from the class and cover his head with a hood all day. His moods could change quickly with extremes.

      He would explain to us that he had two sides of his brain, a good side and a bad side and the bad side would take over and make him do bad things.

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    3. I feel I should add that when my son’s moods were stable he was very different. He was obedient, kind and helpful. He did not behave oppositional unless his moods were off.

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    4. Oh, this may be important to know, they have determined that he does NOT have ADHD through evaluations/screening from parents, teachers and doctors.

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  8. I understand your concern, but by time the studies are complete, my son will be an adult. It is the hardship us parents face, we have to make decisions when the research is limited, this is the case for all the meds our kids are taking. The advantage of Lithium is that it has been used longer than any of the other options available. We have discussed our concerns with our doctor and their experience is that kids do better with meds than adults.

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  9. Tenex, Trileptal, Lithium and Melatonin... at eleven years old? and prozac for depression and anxiety at 10 years old? I know many people who exhibited the same behaviours and mood swings as I did at those ages who clearly do not have bipolar now, unlike me (diagnosed at 19)... But there will not be that option for your children if they are intensively medicated at such a young age and put in that bracket. I really worry about the effects of these intensive chemical treatments on a developing child but also of the damage of being branded at an age where behaviour and mood can go from extreme to completely 'normal' (and remain normal into adulthood) for life... :/

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    1. I understand your concern, it is ours too and the decision for this medication was not made lightly. Without the medications my children were suffering greatly.

      Therapy was being done, but nothing was accomplished without the stability the medication provided. If you read my blog from end to end, you would know what my son has been through, it is much more than mood swings. Seeing monsters coming at him for over 30 minutes, wanting to kill himself, even grabbing a knife in an episode, depression so bad that he raged and was violent to his family, if this continued at the rate it was prior to meds we would not be safe. He became socially isolated and was no longer engaging with other kids and simply wanted to die. His anxiety made it hard to function or go anywhere, he mood swings were swift and upsetting (from tears to laughs every few seconds), causing him to slam his head into the ground begging us to make it stop, his sleep was terrorized by violent nightmares of seeing himself being killed and his joy was gone from life. I could go on, but it's all in the pages of this blog.

      After medication my son said he felt reborn. He said that he felt happiness for the first time in years. These are his exact words. Tell me that he didn't need these meds, tell me that it would have been better to let him suffer, or worse kill himself.

      I hate that my son is on meds, I hate even more that he has this illness. I wish it wasn’t so, but this is what treatment options we have available today, until they can offer something else that will work for him, we don't have many choices.

      But I can say, even if my son doesn't exhibit Bipolar as an adult, his treatment is necessary today. We can not deny that to him.

      Thanks to medication, he now has a life worth living.

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  10. Lithiums side effects outweigh anything positive it brings to the table insomnia is big with it and doctors can be ignorant when you want off it
    for valud reasons.

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    Replies
    1. I’m sorry that's been your experience with Lithium. It has been the opposite for my son. He has no side effects. No weight gain, no insomnia, no feeling like a zombie, he tells us that Lithium has been the best thing for him.

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