When someone faces a challenge to having good mental health, they know that taking a prescription medication is always an option worth exploring. They may have heard about lithium and wondered if it could help improve their symptoms. People also want to make sure they fully understand the possible risks of taking prescription medications. For some, this means wondering, “Is lithium addictive?” New View Wellness in Atlanta employs a staff of medical experts who understand the intricacies of each medication we provide. We break down what lithium is like and how it affects different people.

What is Lithium?

Lithium is a mood stabilizer medication used to treat mood disorders, including bipolar disorder. It affects the central nervous system and helps people feel more in control of their emotions. It can also be used to treat depression when someone doesn’t get the desired effect from traditional anti-depressant drugs. Lithium can also be used to help people who engage in self-harming behaviors. The drug is available by prescription only and comes in tablet, capsule, and solution form.  

Possible Side Effects of Lithium

Side effects can occur with any medication and should be noted and discussed with the prescribing doctor. The most common side effects of lithium include nausea, diarrhea, dry mouth, and a metallic taste in the mouth. Other, less common, side effects may include:

  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Stiffness in arms or legs
  • Difficulty breathing, particularly when exerting energy such as during exercise
  • Weight gain

What Benefits Happen When You Use Lithium?

For those who have bipolar disorder, using lithium helps reduce the symptoms that come with periods of mania and hypomania. This helps the individual experience a more even keel emotionally and reduces the frequency and severity of manic episodes. It can also help relieve the depressive symptoms that happen with bipolar disorder. 

Lithium often works well when used in combination with antidepressant drugs. This gives those taking both types of medications a wider range of benefits because they can take both types of drugs. In addition, for some, using lithium helps reduce their suicidal feelings and behaviors. 

Is Lithium Addictive?

When anyone begins taking a prescription drug, they wonder if the drug has the potential to be abused. Someone wondering “Is lithium addictive?” will want to have enough information to make an informed decision about using the medication. When taken in the correct dosage for each individual, lithium is not a physically addictive drug. It is possible for someone to develop a psychological reliance on it, but that is not common. 

By definition, when someone is addicted to a substance, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking it. This includes physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, sweating, and body aches. The individual also experiences severe cravings to start using the drug again. These types of reactions do not occur when someone who has regularly used lithium stops taking it.

In fact, symptoms such as increased anxiety or depression that may occur can be attributed to bipolar disorder itself because it is no longer being modulated through the use of lithium.

How is Medication Used to Treat Mental Illness?

When someone has a mental illness, medication can make a huge difference. Prescription drugs can help reduce or eliminate many of the symptoms caused by mental health disorders. The effects can help people experience better abilities to think and complete the tasks of daily living. For someone with bipolar disorder, a reduction in manic and depressive symptoms or shorter episodes of them can translate to an improvement in their quality of life. 

Before taking any medication, the person will be assessed by a clinical expert in order to determine the best options for them. From there, the individual will be monitored to see the effects of the drug and if any changes are needed.

How Does Therapy Help People with Mental Health Disorders?

Therapy functions as the cornerstone of treatment for mental health disorders. Therapy can be done on an individual basis or as part of a group. Taking part in more than one type of therapy helps people become more aware of the specifics of their mental health. As a result, they can learn things like healthy coping skills and ways to predict and minimize their symptoms. In addition, therapy helps people communicate better with family and friends so a deeper understanding of their condition is achieved.

Different types of therapy used to treat mental health disorders include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychiatry
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Begin Treatment for Mental Illness in Atlanta, GA

If you ask yourself, “Is lithium addictive?”, you may either already take the drug or are considering if it might be helpful for you. Lithium helps a great many people but isn’t always the right choice for everyone. Our clinical staff at New View Wellness in Atlanta understands lithium and how it works. We provide access to it and a wide variety of other medications that help ease the symptoms of mental illness. Our different levels of outpatient care also feature several types of therapy that help change lives.

Would you like to know if lithium might be helpful for you or someone you love? Contact us today to discuss your situation and how our treatment programs work.