What Factors Affect Lithium Dosage?

Debra Durkee
Debra Durkee
Lithium is commonly prescribed to treat severe depression.
Lithium is commonly prescribed to treat severe depression.

Lithium is a prescription medication used to treat individuals suffering from bipolar disorders and severe depression. It is available in several different forms, including tablets, capsules, and liquid, and the amount taken varies depending on the body's response to the medication. Every individual processes lithium differently, so the prescribing medical professional will generally request the individual to submit to routine blood tests to determine the dosage, a process that can take several attempts.

The correct amount of lithium in the brain acts to balance mood. Too little lithium can result in manic-depression and other extreme mood swings. With too much lithium in the body, an individual can suffer from seizures, gastrointestinal distress, difficulty speaking, and confusion. An individual suffering from a mood disorder caused by a lack of the chemical in the blood is prescribed a lithium dosage based on how much the levels need to increase to achieve the desired amount.

Depending on the severity of the deficiency, an individual may be prescribed a fairly large lithium dosage for the first few days of the treatment. Levels of lithium in the blood are usually checked on a regular basis, and the results of these tests are used as a guide to stabilize the dose and regulate levels. Every individual processes lithium differently, so it may take several prescription changes to find the right dose.

A number of factors impact the way the body processes lithium. An individual with thyroid disease, kidney disease, or other renal conditions may excrete more lithium than a healthy individual, making a higher dose necessary to sustain the proper levels. Any cardiovascular conditions can also impact the way the body functions.

Other types of medication can interfere with the levels of lithium in the body and are typically taken into account when a medical professional determines the lithium dosage. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, mood stabilizers, and some vitamin supplements can all impact lithium levels. Some medications act as diuretics and increase the amount of urine and lithium that pass through the system, which can require increased dosage. A medical professional will often inquire about other factors that may increase the rate at which lithium is processed, including caffeine intake and use of antacids.

The lithium dosage will often be accompanied by information regarding side effects of an overdose. If the individual becomes dehydrated, it could lead to lithium poisoning. Suppression of appetite, mental confusion, difficulty speaking, and muscle twitches may also occur; when these take place, it is important to get in touch with a medical professional in order to change the lithium dosage immediately.

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    • Lithium is commonly prescribed to treat severe depression.
      By: Artem Furman
      Lithium is commonly prescribed to treat severe depression.