Lithium carbonate with such brand names as Eskalith; Lithobid refers to a drug used as a mood stabilizer for the treatment of manic/depressive (bipolar) disorder. It prevents or diminishes
the intensity of episodes of mania in bipolar patients. Typical symptoms of mania include pressure of speech, motor hyperactivity, reduced need for sleep, flight of ideas, grandiosity, elation, poor judgment, aggressiveness and possibly hostility.
Lithium is a positively charged element or particle similar to sodium and potassium and interferes within the cell and on the cell surface with other positively charged atoms such as sodium and potassium. It interferes at several places inside cells and on the cell surface with other positively charged atoms such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium which are important in many cellular functions. Lithium interferes with the synthesis and reuptake of chemical messengers by which nerves communicate with each other (neurotransmitters). Lithium also affects the concentrations of tryptophan and serotonin in the brain. In addition, lithium increases the production of white blood cells in the bone marrow.
Lithium's effects usually begin within one week of starting treatment, and the full effect is seen by 2 to 3 weeks. Lithium toxicity is a concern. Lithium toxicity is closely related to the blood lithium levels and can occur at doses close to therapeutic levels. Therefore, lithium therapy should only be started if facilities for prompt and accurate serum lithium determinations are available to monitor the lithium levels. The signs of lithium toxicity include diarrhea, vomiting, tremor, mild ataxia (wobbliness), drowsiness or muscular weakness occur.