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Lithium may be better than other treatments in preserving the brain in Bipolar Disorder

06 July 2010

New research from the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP), King’s College London (KCL) has shown that lithium, a drug used for stabilising mood swings in Bipolar Disorder (BD), increases the amount of gray matter in the brain of patients.

In an article published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, Dr. Frangou and her group compared the brains of patients with BD taking lithium against other mood stabilising medication and antipsychotics. They found increased gray matter volume only in those patients treated with lithium. Furthermore, these changes were mostly seen in brain regions that are critical in regulating mood.

Dr. Frangou said:  'There are now several studies that have shown that treating patients with BD with lithium helps preserve gray matter in brain regions crucial for mood regulation. This is however the first study to suggest that lithium may be better than other available treatments in this respect. Advantages in the field of neuroimaging are now allowing us to move beyond simple symptom control in the here and now and consider the effect of treatments on the brain and on mechanisms that may help prevent deterioration in the long term'. 

To access the paper in full, please follow the link ‘The effects of lithium and anticonvulsants on brain structure in bipolar disorder’ C.Germana; M.J. Kempton; A.Sarnicola; T. Christodoulou; M. Haldane; M. Hadjulis; P.Girardi; R.Tatarelli; S. Frangou

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