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July 20, 1979

Side Effects Associated With Lithium Therapy

Author Affiliations

From the Neuropsychopharmacology Research Unit, New York University School of Medicine, New York.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1979;36(8):879-887. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1979.01780080053013

This communication focuses on the toxic and side effects of lithium, that is, its medically important physiological and pharmacological effects apart from its therapeutic psychiatric indications.

EFFECTS ON MAJOR BODY SYSTEMS CNS Effects  The effects of lithium on the CNS range from commonly observed mild effects to life-threatening, irreversible brain damage in rare instances of severe toxicity.Serial EEG changes have been found in the majority of both patients and volunteers who have received therapeutic dosages of lithium. Andreani et al1 were among the first to report systematic EEG changes on administration of lithium, which were in the general direction of synchronization. Fink2 subsequently classified lithium with the neuroleptics in terms of EEG effects, finding that the changes produced by both groups of substances were in the general direction of EEG slowing. Small et al3.4 and other investigators5 have confirmed that lithium levels in the range

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