Use of Lithium in Severe Acute Manic Episodes: Retrospective Prescription Practice From a Tertiary Inpatient Unit

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Abstract

Objective:

A retrospective chart review was performed to investigate the common preferences of clinicians for the pharmacological treatment of acute manic episodes, with particular regard to lithium use, and to assess the adherence of clinical practice to established guidelines.

Methods:

Cases of manic episodes in patients admitted to Bakirköy Mazhar Osman Mental Health and Neurological Diseases Education and Research Hospital were retrospectively reviewed. Length of stay, medication data, serum levels, and adverse effects were evaluated for patients who received lithium therapy (N=98).

Results:

On the first day of lithium treatment, 81 patients received 900 to 1200 mg of lithium. In total, 44 patients were discharged with the same dose as that given on the first day of treatment. With the exception of 1 patient, the dose was increased by 300 to 600 mg in the remaining patients within the first 10 days on the basis of serum drug concentrations. The mean serum concentrations of lithium in the first week were 0.67±0.17 mEq/L in patients with no dose increase, and 0.51±0.15 mEq/L in patients who did receive a dose increase. In total, 94 patients received at least 1 antipsychotic medication in addition to lithium.

Conclusions:

Clinicians attempted to maintain serum lithium levels above 0.60 mEq/L at the time of acute treatment initiation, consistent with established guidelines. Clinical practice in large inpatient settings may force clinicians to use lithium in combination with antipsychotics for the treatment of acute mania; the delayed action of lithium and the need for rapid stabilization may drive these practices.

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