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Pharmacopsychiatria. 1983 Nov;16(6):195-200.

Prediction of response to stabilizing lithium treatment.


As lithium has a wide range of biological effects, it is not surprising that the benefit from lithium treatment has been observed in several types of psychiatric disorders. Mood stabilization has been seen in episodic disorders; antiaggressive effect has been reported in mental retardation and other illnesses, and some endocrine and hematological effects have been utilized in internal medicine and neurology. To date, however, only the stabilizing effect on recurrent mood disorders appears to be reliably predictable. The prediction is based primarily on the diagnosis, quality of free interval and frequency of episodes; and several associated indicators can also be helpful. Results of the presented series of studies on the response to stabilizing lithium treatment suggest that such a response is predictable for most patients. The epitome of an excellent lithium responder is a patient with a good quality of remissions, a moderate frequency of recurrences, and a diagnosis of primary affective disorder. If the MMPI profile taken at the patient's optimum is abnormal, the chances of stabilization on lithium alone are greatly reduced. In addition, the responders more frequently have a family history of primary affective disorder and a positive M antigen. It appears that in the present practice the assessment of patients for stabilizing lithium treatment may frequently not be comprehensive enough. As a result, lithium is at present probably overprescribed in North America, and possibly elsewhere as well.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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