Bipolar disorder is usually treated with several medications but lithium alone can be in some cases enough. 5.1.

Mechanism of action. Potential mechanisms of action of lithium in bipolar disorder.

Malhi GS(1), Tanious M, Das P, Coulston CM, Berk M. Author information: (1)Discipline of Psychiatry, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, and Department of Psychiatry, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Despite this, the specific mechanisms by which lithium exerts its mood-stabilizing effects are not well understood.
Upon ingestion, lithium becomes widely distributed in the central nervous system and interacts with a number of neurotransmitters and receptors, decreasing norepinephrine release and increasing serotonin synthesis.
In order to conceptualize these levels, Fig. Purpose of lithium is to alleviate bipolar depression, reduce rate of recurrence and severity of the disorder.

While each might explain lithium's mechanism of action, neither convincingly accounts for the actions of the other mood stabilizers or, moreover, why some antidepressants enhance switching from bipolar depression to mania. 1 provides an overview of what is currently known about the effects of lithium.

"Lithium has been used to treat bipolar disorder for generations, but up until now, our lack of knowledge about why the therapy does or does not work for a particular patient led to unnecessary dosing and delayed finding an effective treatment. Thereby it may be given for long time as a support therapy. This has impeded methods to monitor its effects and the development of new medications with similar efficacy and specificity.

Figure 1.Multi-modal mechanisms of lithium-mediated neuronal protection in model organisms.

Current understanding. Lithium is the first choice treatment for bipolar disorder (BD), a chronic disease that causes episodes characterized by shifts in mood. Understanding the lithium mechanism of action may allow us to predict which bipolar patients will respond to the medication (and which will not) and may shape our understanding of the causes of bipolar disorder itself.

(40% vs. 22%).

All tissues in the body maintain a sodium electrochemical gradient. Many theories on the mechanism of lithium action have been proposed; from alterations in ionic transport to modulation of genetic expression (Gould et al., 2004a, Marmol, 2006). The ionic mechanism of lithium action. Research at the University of California, San Diego could lead to just these kind of breakthroughs in the next few years.