Side Effects of Lithium to Be Aware of — Talkspace

How to manage the side effects of lithium

To maximize the effectiveness of lithium therapy, it is important to understand and manage its potential side effects.

Here are 7 tips to manage the common and serious side effects of lithium in the long term:

1. Monitor your blood levels

Lithium toxicity is a real risk, so monitoring your blood levels is essential. Your doctor will likely order tests periodically to make sure the dose is not too high or low. If the results are abnormal, they may adjust your lithium dose accordingly.

2. Take medications as prescribed

It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions when taking any medication, including lithium. Taking more than prescribed could cause dangerous side effects such as serotonin syndrome or even death in extreme cases. Additionally, missing doses could cause symptoms of mania or depression to return.

3. Drink plenty of water

Staying hydrated helps reduce some of the most common side effects of lithium, such as nausea and vomiting. Drinking enough fluids also helps cleanse the body, which can reduce bloating and other gastrointestinal problems caused by this medication. It is recommended to drink at least 8 glasses a day for optimal health benefits.

“An increased dose of Lithium can cause tremors and weakness that worsens when walking. While taking lithium, patients should be careful to monitor their water intake and not become dehydrated.”

– Talkspace Psychiatrist Dr. Muhammad Munir

4. Avoid alcohol

Alcohol should be avoided when taking lithium as it can increase toxicity levels in the body and lead to serious complications such as seizures, confusion, coma, or even death. Even very small amounts of alcohol should be carefully monitored or avoided because simultaneous drug interactions can cause adverse effects.

5. Get enough rest

A consistent sleep routine is essential to manage the consequences of long-term lithium use, such as sleep disruptions. To ensure you get enough sleep each night, try to establish healthy sleep habits, such as setting a consistent bedtime, eliminating caffeine after sunset, and limiting screen time before bed.

6. Stay active

Regular physical activity can help reduce anxiety. Daily exercise releases endorphins that act as natural mood stabilizers, helping to combat depression or manic episodes. Incorporating an exercise regimen into your daily life can be an effective way to manage the repercussions of long-term Lithium use.

7. Practice self-care

Stress management is a crucial component of achieving optimal mental health. Being kind to yourself and practicing self-care can be instrumental in coping with both the symptoms of a condition and the side effects of medications. Meditation, yoga, and deep breathing techniques can distract your mind and focus your thoughts.

Managing the side effects of lithium can be challenging, but it is possible with the right guidance and support. If the side effects do not go away, be sure to talk to a doctor first before stopping the medication. Quitting cold turkey can cause lithium withdrawal symptoms that may cause more discomfort than the side effects of the medication.

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