Lithium (Eskalith®, Eskalith CR®, Lithobid®) is a medication commonly prescribed to treat manic episodes in people with bipolar disorder. There are currently several different forms of lithium: tablets, capsules, extended-release tablets, and a syrup.
Lithium is a naturally occurring element (like potassium or calcium) that was approved for the treatment of bipolar disorder in 1970. At this time, it is not known exactly how the drug works. Lithium may affect various chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters, which could explain its effectiveness in treating bipolar disorder.
Even though most people seem to tolerate lithium well, side effects are possible. Some of the most common side effects that have been reported with this medicine during clinical studies include nausea or vomiting, drowsiness, loss of appetite, and diarrhea.
(Click Lithium for information on when and how to take lithium tablets, to learn more about the effects of this drug, and to find out what you should discuss with your healthcare provider before starting treatment.)