According a new study, lithium may help to reduce suicide risks in patients with depression or bipolar disorder. Lithium is an older drug, but this new study suggests that this cheaper medication may help reduce the number of patients taking antidepressant medications like Paxil or Effexor.
“The study provides further evidence that one of the most effective psychiatric medications for preventing suicide in patients with mood disorders is also one of our oldest,” said one expert not connected to the research, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, chairman of psychiatry at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City.
Previous information already showed that patients suffering from mood disorders were 30 times more likely to commit suicide than healthier people. Drugs like lithium aid in treating mood swings by keeping a patient’s emotions within a normal range; however, it is not yet clear how the drug helps prevent suicide. The results of this study were published in the British Medical Journal.
During the study, the researchers also found that lithium was linked to a 60 percent reduction in suicide risks when compared to patients taking placebos and that the drug aids in minimizing self-harming behaviors as well. This study helped to reinforce the use of lithium (which is cheaper than antidepressants like Paxil and Effexor) as an effective tool in lessening the rates of suicide among patients with mental health disorders.
Depression is often treated with antidepressants (including Paxil or Effexor, which are in a class of drug called SSRIs). SSRIs have long been the subject of numerous studies that sought to test their efficacy and safety. Paxil and Effexor has been known to cause patients to suffer from violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior as well as lead to birth defects in babies born to mothers who take the pills while pregnant. The birth defects linked to the drugs include PPHN, spina bifida, neural tube defects, oral clefts and heart, lung and brain defects. These side effects have caused many doctors to stop prescribing the drugs to patients in favor of more traditional talk therapy. The drugs have also been found to be no more effective at treating depression than placebos.