Lithium made me gain lots of weight and it also gave me a very bad rash on my hands -- they were itchy and scaly and bloody, it was so bad.
Had to get off the Lithium within a couple of months.
I take 1500mg a day and have done for a year. I have had none of the side effects aside from fine motor tremors and increased thirst.
Lithium is a very old drug, its been around since the 1860's and its very well know and understood however there are a wide range of side effects - most of these do not affect the majority of people however a lot of people seem to get one or more - from what I am told by my pdoc and reading the common ones remain motor tremors and weight gain along with thyroid problems.
Lithium is often the first drug prescribed in a lot of countries, it is in Australia for example as its very well know and understood.
there are a couple of things to understand.
First it takes 4-6 weeks to build to a theraputic level and somewhat longer to take full effect. On Levels you need to understand that it builds in your bloodstream - Lithium has an effective range 0.6 to 1.2 mmol Li+/litre and anything above 1.5 is dangerous and its when toxicity sets int - a reading of 0.6 and then 0.8 some weeks later is what you want - 0.8 is right in the middle of where your doctors likely want you to be - I sit at 0.7 to 0.8 normally myself - most docs like to see it under 1.0 - normally you want a range in the lower end if you are on a maintenance dose or older and higher if youre a child/teen.
(mmol/l is millimoles/liter and a millimole is one-thousandth of a gram-molecule)
What the number basically means is concentration in the blood in simple terms- Lithium is basically a metallic salt (there are diff versions - Lithicarb is common in AU), it builds in the bloodstream - which is why proper hydration is VITAL - you MUST be drinking at least 2 litres of water a day on Lithium and studies show that most of the worst sufferers of side effects come from people not drinking enough fluids.
Alcohol is a deep concern with Lithium - The signs of Lithium Toxicity can present as drunkedness including slurred speech and trouble walking - if you are drinking you must maintain hydration - I drink 1 glass of water per glass of alcohol and drink in moderation only - drinking heavily on any med is bad news anyway.
Im a bit concerned actually, did your doc not go thru Lithium with you? These ar questions they should have discussed. The ones on toxicity are VITAL to understand as dehydration is a bad idea on Lithium and serious toxicity can lead to liver damage and kidney failure, mild toxicity can present as muscle tremors so if you get that speak to a doc.
For most users lithium is a good drug - it works to stabilise moods and help blunt swings, producing softer lows and lower highs - the mechanism is not fully understood even now but it does work. You can still get both manic and depressed on Lithium and its not something a lot of pdocs like to use on Type 1's and people who are prone to psychotic mania (for obvious reasons) - it has no psychotropic affects.
Also note that when you take other drugs even over the counter speak to the pharmacist - lithium has a lot of interactions and other drugs can affect uptake - psuedoephedrine for example can slow or impair it.
On the whole its safe and it works, if it does not work for you or you get side effects you may need something else but your levels are fine and if you give it time you will be able to gauge the results.
Hope some of that helps - I'm a geek so when I get prescribed something I tend to read everything I can find on it :)
Over the last year on lithium, I've gained 30 pounds, had memory trouble, been stuck in depression, and been thirsty. I had to take it at night, because it made me very tired. I decided it wasn't working the greatest for me, but hey, I'd given it a year and had no manic episodes. Since stopping it, my brain can think clearly again and remember stuff that most people have forgotten, and at least I've stopped gaining weight even if I haven't lost any. I now take Tegretol.
yeah i been studing medical for 12 yrs as a hobby..just not in this field..so thanks again..james