Lithium Pharmacology

Lithium pharmacology refers to use of the lithium ion, Li+, as a drug. A number of chemical salts of lithium are used medically as mood-stabilizing drugs, primarily in the treatment of bipolar disorder, where they have a role in the treatment of depression and particularly of mania, both acutely and in the long term. As a mood stabilizer, lithium is probably more effective in preventing mania than depression, and reduces the risk of suicide in bipolar patients. In depression alone (unipolar disorder), lithium can be used to augment other antidepressants. Lithium carbonate (Li2CO3), sold under several trade names, is the most commonly prescribed, while lithium citrate (Li3C6H5O7) is also used in conventional pharmacological treatments. Lithium sulfate (Li2SO4) has been presented as an alternative.

Upon ingestion, lithium becomes widely distributed in the central nervous system and interacts with a number of neurotransmitters and receptors, decreasing norepinephrine release and increasing serotonin synthesis.

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