Prescription onlyLower-cost generic available

Lithobid

(Lithium)

  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Oral solution
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Stabilizes mood.

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Prescription onlyLower-cost generic available

Our pharmacists’ bottom line

Lithobid (Lithium) is the most effective long-term treatment for bipolar disorder, but it comes with a lot of side effects, so it can be difficult to take.

Worth it?Is it worth it?
Works well?Does it work?
Hassle?Is it a hassle?
  • A first-line, long-term treatment for bipolar disorder. Effective at stabilizing mood and preventing relapse.
  • For manic episodes (acute mania), more effective when taken together with an antipsychotic medicine.
  • The only drug proven (so far) to lower the risk of suicide, possibly because it lowers aggressiveness and impulsivity.
  • Has many short- and long-term side effects.
  • The dose for it to work well is very close to the amount that causes overdose, so you have to be careful, watch out for symptoms, and get help immediately if you accidentally take too much.
  • Probably not safe if you have kidney problems.
  • Not safe to use if you're pregnant.
  • Requires routine blood tests to see how the medicine is affecting your body.

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Side effects for Lithobid (Lithium)

Manufacturers don’t say how common these side effects are

  • Acute dystonia
  • Albumin protein in urine
  • Alopeica
  • Anesthesia of skin
  • Blackout spells
  • Blurred vision
  • Choreo-athetotic movements
  • Chronic folliculitis
  • Coma
  • Confusion
  • Cutaneous ulcers
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Diffuse non-toxic goiter
  • Dizziness
  • Downbeat nystagmus
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Drying and thinning of hair
  • Edematous swelling of ankles or wrists
  • Epileptiform seizures
  • Exacerbation of psoriasis
  • Excessive weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Hyperactive deep tendon reflexes
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Itching
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Leucocytosis
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low urine output
  • Metallic taste
  • Muscle hyperirritability
  • Nausea
  • Peripheral circulatory collapse
  • Polyuria
  • Pseudotumor cerebri
  • Restlessness
  • Sinus node dysfunction with severe bradycardia
  • Slowed-down thinking and movements
  • Slurred speech
  • Stupor
  • Sugar in urine
  • Tendency to sleep
  • Thirst or polyuria
  • Transient electroencephalographic and electrocardiographic changes
  • Transient hyperglycemia
  • Transient scotomata
  • Tremor
  • Vertigo
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Worsening of organic brain syndromes
  • Xerosis cutis

What to expect when you take Lithobid (Lithium) for Bipolar disorder

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Tips from our pharmacists
  • For the first week, avoid activities that require you to be alert.
  • Don't use if pregnant.
  • Requires routine blood tests.
  • Take with food or use extended release form to avoid stomach upset.
  • Stay well-hydrated, and keep salt intake consistent.
  • Persistent stomach upset, slurred speech, or extreme drowsiness may be a sign that your dose is too high.

Risks and Warnings for Lithobid (Lithium)

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    • Higher risk if:
    • Low sodium
    • Dehydration
    • Drug interactions (diuretics, ACE inhibitors, NSAIDs like ibuprofen)

    The amount of Lithobid (Lithium) that's too much for your body to handle is only a little higher than the amount in an effective dose. This means it can be easy to accidentally overdose. Symptoms of Lithobid (Lithium) toxicity include diarrhea, vomiting, drowsiness, abnormal eye movements, muscle weakness, and lack of coordination. In severe cases, overdose can cause coma or seizures. If you think you've taken too much Lithobid (Lithium), stop taking it and seek medical attention immediately.

    This is a black box warning. The FDA requires this warning when there is a significant risk of serious or life-threatening effects that anyone taking the drug should consider.

Means that some groups have a high risk of experiencing this side effect

Tips from pharmacists and people taking Lithobid (Lithium)

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The FDA category for this medication is D. It is advised that you: Weigh risks vs. benefits
Pregnancy
Food
  • Tips from our pharmacists
  • Take with food or use extended release form to avoid stomach upset.
  • Lithium will cause a blunted and flat affect, meaning your personality will sort of disappear. It also causes nausea (the immediate release version), so have a small snack before taking it.
    Age: 30
    Gender: Woman
    Taken for: Bipolar disorder II
    Duration taken: A year or so
Kidneys & liver
  • Upsides and downsides from our pharmacists
  • Probably not safe if you have kidney problems.
  • Risks from our pharmacists
  • Lithobid (Lithium) can reduce the kidney's ability to balance salt and water in your body. This is reversible if you stop taking Lithobid (Lithium). If you're urinating much more than usual, your doctor can do a blood test to check your kidney function.
Sleep
  • Tips from our pharmacists
  • Persistent stomach upset, slurred speech, or extreme drowsiness may be a sign that your dose is too high.
  • Risks from our pharmacists
  • The amount of Lithobid (Lithium) that's too much for your body to handle is only a little higher than the amount in an effective dose. This means it can be easy to accidentally overdose. Symptoms of Lithobid (Lithium) toxicity include diarrhea, vomiting, drowsiness, abnormal eye movements, muscle weakness, and lack of coordination. In severe cases, overdose can cause coma or seizures. If you think you've taken too much Lithobid (Lithium), stop taking it and seek medical attention immediately.
  • It caused constant nausea. I couldn't sleep or eat. It caused me to get hypothyroidism. I wanted to die the side effects were so bad. I lost a ton of weight and was constantly irritable. I would try it again with caution.
    Age: 31
    Gender: Woman
    Duration taken: A few months
Weight gain or loss
  • you will gain weight. it is terrible. it messes with your skin, too. no fun.
    Anonymous
  • It caused constant nausea. I couldn't sleep or eat. It caused me to get hypothyroidism. I wanted to die the side effects were so bad. I lost a ton of weight and was constantly irritable. I would try it again with caution.
    Age: 31
    Gender: Woman
    Duration taken: A few months