Depression

Lithium cuts suicide risk in recurrent major depression.

May be a useful supplement for potentially suicidal patients.
April 13, 2007

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – In people suffering from recurrent major depressive disorder, treatment with lithium reduces the risk that they’ll commit or attempt suicide, according to a new study

Lithium is commonly used to treat bipolar disorder, or manic depression. Because the drug has shown significant anti-suicide effects in this setting, Dr. Ross J. Baldessarini, of McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts, and colleagues looked for evidence that it might also benefit patients with recurrent major depression.

As reported in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the investigators identified eight studies that reported on suicides or suicide attempts during treatment with and without lithium in patients with recurrent depression. Their analysis involved a total of 329 subjects.

The overall rate of suicidal acts was 1.48 percent annually among those not given lithium compared with 0.17 percent per year among those treated with lithium — an 88.5 percent reduction in risk.

“The findings reported here support the conclusion that lithium may represent a useful supplemental or alternative treatment for potentially suicidal patients with recurrent major depressive disorder, as has been found in patients with bipolar disorders,” the authors conclude.

Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited.


SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, March 2007.

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