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Re: Lithium as an AD Augmentation Strategy

Posted by Cathybddmom on April 21, 2005, at 10:43:52

In reply to Re: Lithium as an AD Augmentation Strategy scatterbrained, posted by anneL on April 20, 2005, at 2:21:15

Hello, I just looked at this site today. Someone from the naturalthyroidhormone yahoo group mentioned this site. But I saw this post and had to jump in.

First, Phillipa, you mentioned taking synthroid for your thyroid problem and still not doing well. Synthroid contains only T4, and you need both T4 AND T3. Someone with a thyroid problem usually has a problem converting T4 to T3, so you are probably not getting T3, and T3 is very important for your mental health!!!

I would really like to suggest that you check into Armour Thyroid. It contains both T3 and T4 and most find it makes a world of difference!!! My son takes 4 grains of Armour a day. I take 3 grains.

If for some reason you would rather not switch to Armour (or can't find a doctor to switch to Armour) then you could add Cytomel for the T3. If your doc is simply running the TSH and not the Free T3 and Free T4 tests, then there is no way to know what your Free T3 and Free T4 levels look like, except for your symptoms.

Second, let me say that Lithium can definitely affect your thyroid! we learned the hard way! If there is even a chance that you have a thyroid problem I would really encourage you not to take Lithium. If you have a thyroid problem it will only make you worse!


Here is a copy of some things I have copied about Lithium.

Lithium is the most frequent mood stabilizer prescribed to those with bipolar disorder (manic depression). Lithium helps to even the highs and lows of mood associated with this disorder.

Major Precautions and Warnings

Because lithium is related to sodium, it is important to drink plenty of fluids (avoid caffeinated beverages) and have an adequate supply of dietary salt. Too little salt can cause the body to hoard lithium instead, and too little water will decrease urination, which again can lead to lithium buildup.

Experts recommend that lithium use be discontinued during at least the first trimester of pregnancy, and throughout pregnancy if possible. Breast-feeding mothers should not take lithium.

Drug Interactions
Medications that can interact badly with lithium include:
ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
naproxen (Aleve)
SSRI antidepressants (Prozac, Luvox, etc.) and several others.

Make sure your doctor has a complete list of both prescription and over-the-counter medications you take regularly or occasionally. Also be sure to tell other doctors who may prescribe for you that you are taking lithium.

The combination of haloperidol (Haldol) and lithium has caused extremely serious complications in a small number of patients. When these two medicines are prescribed together, the patient should be monitored very closely for rigidity and/or very high fever.

Geriatric Use
Elderly patients may develop lithium toxicity at much lower serum levels and so should be monitored appropriately.

Miscellaneous Cautions
Patients with psoriasis should use lithium with caution, as this medication is known to make psoriasis worse.
Care should be used if the patient has:
cardiovascular disease
This is not an all-inclusive list. Read patient information that accompanies prescription and discuss this medication with your doctor.

these were comments made on a board about thyroid problems & lithium:

1. I have been on lithium for just about 5 years. I didn't like it at first, but now, it is great. I did gain about 15 pounds at first, but it could have been cause I was in my late 30's to begin with. I gradually took off the 15 pounds by joining weight watchers and exercising more. I am now going to try to lose about 5 more pounds as I was slightly overweight when I first got on the lithium and I am small framed with not a whole lot of muscle. I am presently 5'4" and 116 pounds and 43 years old. I daily take 1 to 1-1/2 of the 450mg escolith time released form. My blood level ranges from .29 to .33 which my psychiatrist approves of, even though it is lower than the recommended standard. I did develop a thyroid problem from the lithium and now take synthroid, but it is an ok trade off, side effect wise. I have no hand tremors or other major side effects associated with lithium. Let me know if you have any more questions.

2. I was on lithium and depakote at the same time. Now I'm off depakote. Between the two of them, I've gained 70 pounds, and I've tried everything to get it off-it's impossible. Something won't let me. On lithium i got a goiter and i turned hypothyroid. It sucks. I seriously don't recommend lithium to anyone. I know it is a good drug and it also helps a lot, but to me its not worth it. Now it is too late.

3. Anyway regarding the question you asked re the Lithium and does it affect the thyroid gland ... yes, it can do. It's called Hypothyroidism and means the thyroid gland is underactive and not producing enough thyroid hormones through your body. The main effect or symptom is excessive tiredness to the point where you can even feel depressed if you weren't already. This is easily fixed. Your doctor should be giving you regular blood checks to check your thyroid hormone replacement level about every 4-5 months. You can be given replacement hormones in the form of pills which are called levothyroxine. This is very very common among people on Lithium and if it is going to be a problem then usually will start to play up sometime after the first 6 months, and is more prevalent in women.




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