Is Lithium Antisuicidal?

Peter M. Yellowlees, MBBS, MD


August 26, 2013

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This is the Medscape Psychiatry Minute. I'm Dr. Peter Yellowlees. Suicide in patients with unipolar and bipolar mood disorders is all too common, and many patients are prescribed lithium as a long-term preventive treatment. Now a team of investigators[1] from the Universities of Verona and Oxford have undertaken a meta-analysis of 48 randomized controlled trials (6674 patients) to assess whether lithium has a specific preventive effect for suicide and self-harm in these groups. They found that lithium is protective against suicide in people with unipolar depressive disorder, that it reduces the risk for suicide broadly in patients with mood disorders, that it has a longstanding role and usefulness in the treatment of mood disorders, and may be specifically indicated in those patients at risk for self-harm. This is an extremely important study and set of findings and reinforces the need for clinicians to use lithium therapy in patients with unipolar and bipolar mood disorders. I'm Dr. Peter Yellowlees.



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