How should findings on antisuicidal effects of lithium be integrated into practical treatment decisions?
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Beyond its prophylactic efficacy lithium has demonstrated possibly specific antisuicidal effects. Lithium significantly reduces the high excess mortality of patients with affective disorders. Appropriate lithium prophylaxis prevents ca. 250 suicides per year in Germany although lithium salts are prescribed within the National Health Scheme at low frequency (0.06% of the population). Rational treatment strategies most likely would demand for about 10 times higher prescription rates. Guidelines and algorithms for selecting an appropriate prophylactic strategy in affective disorders should take into consideration the suicide risk of an individual patient.
Key wordslithium affective disorders suicide guidelines pharmaco-economy antidepressants
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