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Low-Dosage Lithium - Aspirin for the Brain?

Posted by SLS on December 29, 2022, at 10:43:22

I am becoming an advocate of using low-dosage lithium (300-450 mg/day) almost routinely in treatment-resistant depression, especially if there is any family history of Bipolar Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder (Bipolar subtype), or Catatonic Schizophrenia.

Kidney and thyroid function are affected in a dosage-dependent manner. At 300 mg/day I have no side effects, my blood tests are normal after 10 years of exposure, and there are no psychiatric side effects apathy and brain-fog, for examples. At 450 mg/day, I relapse completely, and actually feel moderately worse. Lithium seems to have a biphasic dose-response curve. It does opposite things at low versus high dosages, both clinically and pharmacologically. This is demonstrated with respect to glutamate release. The association between lithium dosage and its bimodal effect on glutamatergic neurotransmission reflects my clinical reaction to low versus high dosages of lithium.

I think of lithium as being like aspirin for the brain.


1.Reduces the rate of oxidative damage
2.Lowers the risk of contracting alzheimer's disease
3.May serve to treat other neurodegenerative diseases
4.Promotes neurogenesis (the formation of new neurons) in the hippocampus and a few other structures
5.Promotes the release of serotonin
6.Reinforces second messenger cascades
7.Increases the secretion of bdnf to promote healthy neural growth
8.Reduces the rate of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (gsk-3) enzyme activity (also seen with ketamine)
9.Possibly inhibits phosphatidylinositol signaling, which modulates gene expression
10.Increases the volume of cortical gray matter
11.Reduces the rate of apoptosis (programmed cell death) and neuroprotection in general
12.Increases the length of chromosome telomeres
13.Increased pk-c activity
14.Competes with magnesium at the magnesium receptor
15.Modulates magnesium based enzymes - including the inhibition of adenylate cyclase and a corresponding reduction of the camp second-messenger formation
16.Treats neuroblastoma
17.Bimodal (biphasic) effects on glutamate levels
18.Binds to glutamate receptors

A full list would probably be longer than one of my average posts especially the recent impulsive and angry ones that I submitted during a transient state of hyperarousal (produced by a treatment adjustment).

Anyway, consider adding low-dosage lithium treatment to your regime if your depression is resistant to treatment and there is no history of spontaneous mania or psychosis (in which case, high dosages of lithium are more appropriate). I would suggest keeping lithium on-board in the background as you progress through your drug trials.

- Scott

Some see things as they are and ask why.
I dream of things that never were and ask why not.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.




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