Bipolar Patients Treated with Lithium Rehospitalized Less

Credit to user The Javorac. Used with permission under a Creative Commons license.

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.

Author: Cassandra Stout

Freelance writer Cassandra Stout blogs weekly at the award-winning Bipolar Parent, a comprehensive resource for parents with mental illnesses. She also blogs monthly at the International Bipolar Foundation website ( Her work has been published in the anthology, How the Light Gets In. Cassandra holds degrees from the University of Arizona in Creative Writing and Journalism. She has been a judge for the Pacific Northwest Writers' Association literary contest for nine years, where her memoir, Committed, recently placed as a finalist. She balances her literary work with raising her children, feeding her cat, and managing her bipolar disorder.

8 thoughts on “Bipolar Patients Treated with Lithium Rehospitalized Less”

  1. Thank God to hear this good news, Cass! I take lithium (and I’ve done so for years) but it didn’t start working until I added the MAOI Parante/tranylcypromine – together the combo is a miracle! 🙂

    Happy June & have a great weekend – I’ll retweet this too when I get back on Twitter later on today……

    1. Dear Dyane, I’m so glad that you found a combination of meds that works for you! Thanks so much for the tweet and comment! I dearly appreciate your unflagging support.

  2. Do you know I have never been treated with lithium? I am so curious as to why no one has put me on it. I’m glad I’m not, I seem to be doing just fine without it and I would hate to get my levels checked all the time. I’m glad to hear it works so well.

    1. I’m glad you’re doing well without lithium! Getting the levels checked is a hassle, but it’s not as bad as you might think–provided you don’t have a fear of needles! Thanks for the comment.

      1. I was on depakote for a brief time and had to get levels checked with that. Once upon a time I was terrified of needles, but getting labs done all the time now for my thyroid I’m not afraid anymore. But the depakote didnt work well for me. I’ve heard great stories of people doing well on it. I’m just glad there is SOMETHING really successful out there.

        1. I’ve been on Depakote and lithium at the same time, and they worked well until they didn’t. I’m glad you finally found something that worked.

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