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Lithium Orotate for Depression

Website comment -- The reason given in the articles below (and many others) that lithium is not more commonly used for depression even though it is highly effective is because of the safety concerns surrounding lithium.  These include potential lithium toxicity, which requires constant monitoring, and numerous negative side effects.
Unfortunately, the drugs which are currently being used to treat depression do not seem to be as effective as lithium in some important ways. 
However, by using lithium orotate, the same positive results for treating depression as those received from the pharmaceutical forms of lithium (lithium carbonate and lithium citrate) may be achieved without the safety concerns. Lithium orotate is a safe, natural, extremely effective alternative with no side effects or toxicity concerns.

Claude De Montigny, MD, PhD, FRCPC
Department of Psychiatry, Neurobiological Psychiatry Unit, McGill University
About one-third of depressed patients do not respond satisfactorily to antidepressant drugs. Until recently, electroconvulsive therapy was considered as the treatment of choice for these patients.
We have shown that the short-term administration of low doses of lithium enhances the function of serotonin-containing neurons.
We published our first observations in eight patients in 1981. All eight patients, who had failed to improve with a treatment of at least three weeks with an antidepressant drug, showed a clinically significant improvement 48 hours after the addition of lithium to their therapeutic regimens.
This report was received enthusiastically by the international scientific community, although, as is the case for any new finding, some expressed skepticism.
However, since then, over 50 reports in scientific journals have not only confirmed the efficacy of this therapeutic strategy in resistant depression, but have shown it to be useful in depressions resistant to a wide range of antidepressant treatments. It is currently estimated that about 70% of treatment-resistant depressions respond favourably to lithium addition.
Lithium augmentation is now used worldwide as a first choice strategy in treatment-resistant depression.

Harvard Gazette, December 13, 2001
Lithium drugs may reduce the risk of suicide among people with severe recurrent depression by as much as 82 percent, according to a new Harvard study. That finding may help millions of people who struggle with potentially lethal mood disorders.
The researchers, working at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital in Belmont, analyzed 22 studies involving 5,647 patients. Those who took the drug showed a nine-fold lower rate of suicide compared to those who did not.
"The evidence we have provides strong, consistent support that suicides are dramatically lower with than without long-term lithium treatment," says Ross Baldessarini, a professor of psychiatry who participated in the study. He estimates that 10 million people in the United States with major mood disorders could be affected by these results.
At present, the drugs most commonly prescribed for depression are so-called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as Celexa, Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft. These medications are safer than lithium-containing drugs, which include Lithobid, Eskalith, and several generic products. However, in another study Baldessarini and his colleagues found no evidence that serotonin drugs and other antidepressants reduce risk of suicide.
Striking results
Baldessarini and colleagues Leonardo Tondo and John Hennen reported their results in recent issues of the international medical journal Acta Pyschiatrica Scandinavica and in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. They write that "despite the grave personal, social, and economic impact of suicide and its strong association with depressive disorders, specific studies on the effects of mood-altering treatments on suicide risk remain uncommon."
Suicide risk in people with mood disorders is 10 to 20 times higher than that in the general population, and as many as 25 percent of severely depressed or manic-depressive patients take their own lives. In a search for ways to reduce this toll, the Harvard researchers analyzed 22 studies conducted between 1970 and 1998. They compared suicide rates among patients who took lithium for several months to more than a year with those who did not take the drug.
"The results were clear and striking, particularly among bipolar manic-depressive patients," Baldessarini comments. They reinforced the Harvard group's other finding that suicides and suicide attempts increased 20 times in manic-depressives within the first year after abruptly discontinuing lithium treatment. After the first year off lithium, rates of suicidal behavior were virtually identical to those before patients started the treatment.
An 82 percent, or nine-fold reduction, in suicide risk is impressive. Even a much lesser reduction in the likelihood of death from, say, a cancer drug would be phenomenal.
Yet despite the popularity of newer drugs, Baldessarini maintains that, "our analysis shows that lithium is a good option to choose for long-term treatment of severe depression, particularly depression associated with bipolar manic-depression."