How does Lithium work?

Exactly how lithium works is unknown, but it might help mental disorders by increasing the activity of chemical messengers in the brain. 

Are there safety concerns?

Lithium seems to be safe for most people when taken orally and appropriately with careful monitoring by a healthcare giver. Lithium can cause nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, muscle weakness, fatigue, and a dazed feeling. These adverse effects often improve with continued use. Fine tremor, frequent urination, and thirst can occur and may persist with continued use. Weight gain and swelling from excess fluid can also occur. Lithium can also cause or make worse skin disorders such as acne, psoriasis, and rashes. The amount of lithium in the body must be carefully controlled and is checked by blood tests. Do not take lithium without a healthcare giver's advice if:
  • You are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • You have thyroid disease.
  • You have heart disease.
  • You have kidney disease.
  • You are scheduled for surgery in the next two weeks.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.