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July 20, 1979

Lithium as an Antidepressant

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1979;36(8):845-846. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1979.01780080019004

Evidence has been accumulating from several sources in support of the claim that lithium is an effective antidepressant in a subgroup of depressed patients. The acceptance of this has been somewhat impaired by the availability of the tricyclic compounds that are relatively effective in a much larger number of depressed patients. Further, lithium's clear antimanic action has prompted resistance to the implications that a single compound is both antidepressant and antimanic.

The evidence for lithium's antidepressant action derives from 12 controlled studies that have been conducted in nine different centers (Table). Three of these1-3 concluded that lithium was not an antidepressant, while the remaining nine4-11 all reported a significant antidepressnat effect. These studies have been reviewed in detail else-where.10,12,13

Also listed in this table is the most recent study from our group (T. A. Ramsey, MD, W. Dyson, MD, J. Mendels, MD, et al; unpublished findings, 1978), a single-blind study in