Lithium- Gold standard for preventing re-hospitalization among bipolar disorder patients

Lithium- Gold standard for preventing re-hospitalization among bipolar disorder patients

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is responsible for inflicting dramatic shifts in mood and energy that massively affect one’s day-to-day life. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), bipolar disorder afflicts about 5.7 million adult Americans, or about 2.6 percent of the American population, aged 18 and above every year. Resulting in reduction in the normal life span by approximately 9.2 years, nearly 20 percent patients with bipolar disorder commit suicide. Furthermore, bipolar disorder is extremely incapacitating and crippling from all perspective. 

Ranked as the sixth leading cause of disability in the world by the World Health Organization (WHO), bipolar disorder is a relatively common condition with a lifetime prevalence of up to four (4) percent. Generally, patients grappling with the challenges of bipolar disorder require medication throughout their life. For many patients, it is possible to treat the episodes of mania. However, depressive episodes are normally less responsive to treatment. Additionally, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics are the other key maintenance treatments for bipolar disorder.

A good number of patients treated with multiple medications as a maintenance regimen have shown improvements in their illness.  Over the last few decades, numerous maintenance treatments have been developed for bipolar disorder. While the second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) and anticonvulsants are now used in clinical practice, lithium remains the most common treatment for the long-term management of bipolar disorder.

Lithium displays lower risk of psychiatric hospitalization and all-cause hospitalization

A recent study attempted to examine a cohort of Finnish patients with bipolar disorder and analyzed the relative effectiveness of pharmacological treatments in the prevention of re-hospitalization. Published in JAMA Psychiatry, the study examined the nationwide databases for hospitalization and dispensed medications from 1987 to 2012 among patients hospitalized for bipolar disorder to examine the risk of psychiatric, cardiovascular and all-cause hospitalization.

The study included 18,018 individuals hospitalized for bipolar disorder. The method primarily used for calculating medication use was the Prescription drug purchases to Drug Use Periods (PRE2DUP), a novel method based on the mathematical modelling of the personal drug purchasing behaviors. The statistical analysis showed that lithium significantly lowered the risk of psychiatric hospitalization and all-cause hospitalization compared to other medications.

The most commonly prescribed antipsychotics like quetiapine fumarate displayed only a slight reduction in psychiatric hospitalization and all-cause hospitalization. The findings support the use of lithium as a first-line treatment for the prevention of manic and depressive episodes in patients with bipolar disorder. The Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health funded the research through the developmental fund for Niuvanniemi Hospital.

In the past, several scientists have revealed lithium as valuable in treating depression as an additional treatment. As a large number of patients often fail to respond to antidepressants and other medications, the inclusion of lithium as an additional treatment accelerates the process of recovery. Although lithium is considered the “gold standard” mood stabilizer in terms of efficacy, many patients find it tough to tolerate its effects.

Recovery road map

Like other chronic illnesses, mental disorders can attack anyone, regardless of his or her age, race, gender or socioeconomic background. It is essential to identify the symptoms at an early stage to offer effective treatment and improve the quality of life of those suffering. A holistic treatment and care assists people suffering from bipolar disorder to lead healthy and productive lives.  The first step to recovery is consultation with an expert or doctor.

If you or your loved one is displaying the signs of a mental illness, you may seek help from the Colorado Mental Health Help right away. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-899-5063 to connect to one of the best mental health treatment centers in Colorado. You may also chat online with our counselors for more information about mental health treatment centers.