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Archives of Clinical Psychiatry (São Paulo)

versão impressa ISSN 0101-6083


APRAHAMIAN, Ivan et al. Lithium safety and tolerability in mood disorders: a critical review. Rev. psiquiatr. clín. [online]. 2014, vol.41, n.1, pp.9-14. ISSN 0101-6083.


: Lithium is a first-line treatment for bipolar disorder in all phases, also indicated as add-on drug for unipolar depression and suicide prevention. This study encompasses a broad critical review on the safety and tolerability of lithium for mood disorders.


: A computerized search for English written human studies was made in MEDLINE, using the keywords “lithium” and “mood disorders”, starting from July 1993 through July 2013 (n = 416). This initial search aimed to select clinical trials, prospective data, and controlled design studies of lithium treatment for mood disorders reporting adverse effects (n = 36). The final selection yielded 91 studies.


: The most common general side effects in patients on lithium treatment were thirst, frequent urination, dry mouth, weight gain, fatigue and cognitive complaints. Lithium users showed a high prevalence of hypothyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, and decrease in urinary concentration ability. Reduction of glomerular filtration rate in patients using lithium was also observed, but in a lesser extent. The evidence of teratogenicity associated with lithium use is not well established. Anti-inflammatory non-steroidal drugs, thiazide diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, and alprazolam may increase serum lithium and the consequent risk for intoxication.


: Short-term lithium treatment is associated with mild side effects. Medium and long-term lithium treatment, however, might have effects on target organs which may be prevented by periodical monitoring. Overall, lithium is still a safe option for the treatment of mood disorders.

Palavras-chave : Lithium; mood disorders; safety; tolerability.

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