[Skip to Navigation]
July 20, 1979

Lithium as an Antidepressant

Author Affiliations

From the Affective Diseases Research Unit, Veterans Administration Hospital (Drs Mendel, Ramsey, and Frazer), and the Departments of Psychiatry (Drs Mendels, Ramsey, and Frazer) and Surgery (Dr Dyson), School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

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listed in this table is the most recent study from our group (T. A. Ramsey, MD, W. Dyson, MD, J. Mendels, MD, et al; unpublished findings, 1978), a single-blind study in

Add or change institution