Bipolar Patients Treated with Lithium Rehospitalized Less

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Bipolar patients treated with lithium made fewer return trips to psychiatric wards, according to a new study by Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. Long-acting injections of antipsychotics were also effective.


Researchers in Finland followed 18,000 patients who had previously been hospitalized for bipolar disorder. Each patient was used as their own control, observed with and without treatment.

Lithium was found to reduce the risk of rehospitalizations by 30 percent. Injections of antipsychotics were found to reduce the risk by the same number, especially when compared to oral antipsychotic medications of the same type. For example, the most prescribed antipsychotic drug, quetiapine (Seroquel), which is given in tablet form, reduced the risk by only 7 percent.

“The prescription of lithium has decreased steadily in recent years, but our results show that lithium should remain the first line of treatment for patients with bipolar disorder. Long-acting injections might offer a safe, effective option for patients for whom lithium is not suitable,” says Jari Tiihonen, specialist doctor and professor at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Clinical Neuroscience.

Materials provided by Karolinska Institutet.