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J Affect Disord. 1991 Sep;23(1):1-7.

Does lithium reduce the mortality of recurrent mood disorders?

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Neuropsychiatry Research Laboratory, West Park Hospital, Epsom, U.K.


Numerous follow-up studies have shown that patients with mood disorders who do not receive prophylactic medication are at increased risk of death, particularly from suicide. After 11 years follow-up we compared the mortality of 103 patients attending a lithium clinic with that expected on the basis of age/sex/year-specific rates for England and Wales. Only 10 patients died during the study, although the expected number of deaths was 18.31 (P = 0.052, two-tailed) and no deaths from suicide were observed. After correcting for the prevalence of mood disorder in the general population, the relative risk was 0.60 (95% CI 0.29-1.12) which suggests that lithium reverses the excess mortality associated with recurrent mood disorders, including that from suicide.

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