In this new, occasional feature on Psych Congress Network, members of the Psych Congress Steering Committee answer questions asked by audience members at Psych Congress meetings.
QUESTION: What do we know about effects of lithium on cognitive symptoms?
ANSWER: Lithium is one of psychopharmacology’s great achievements. Ever since Dr. Cade discovered it in Australia in the middle of the previous century, lithium has been a trailblazing medication and it has revolutionized the care of millions of individuals suffering from bipolar disorder.
Cognitive side-effects are however a significant issue with lithium, and a significant cause for patient suffering and often leads to partial and/or full non-adherence to treatment. Lithium has been associated with impaired memory, word finding difficulties, and impaired recall. Often, my patients have reported a cognitive "dulling" and a loss of cognitive "creativity" with lithium use that they found most disturbing. This does appear to be dose related.
— Psych Congress cochair Rakesh Jain, MD, MPH, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Texas Tech Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, Midland