Lithium pp 107-146 | Cite as

Pharmacology—Toxicology of the Lithium Ion

  • B. Shopsin
  • S. Gershon


The lithium ion is unique among the available psychopharmaceutical drugs in that it exerts therapeutic activity without producing any undesirable side effects on emotional—intellectual functioning. However, there are unwanted somatic side effects that occur during lithium treatment. Although there are several classifications possible, we are dividing these unwanted effects into three main types. The first is represented by mild to moderate toxic effects and may be seen at low serum lithium concentrations; the second is the lithium intoxication or poisoning associated with accumulation of lithium to serum levels above 2.0 meq/liter. This borderline is not absolute; patients occasionally have serum concentrations between 2 and 3 meq/liter without being intoxicated (Schou, 1968), while symptoms of intoxication have been noted at serum lithium levels in the range of 0.75 meq/liter (Shopsin et al., 1970). The third type of side effect coincident with administration of lithium includes a variety of endocrine and metabolic effects; it may be more appropriate to view some of these effects as complications of treatment with this medication.


Lithium Treatment Lithium Chloride Lithium Salt Lithium Poisoning Serum Lithium Level 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Shopsin
    • 1
  • S. Gershon
    • 1
  1. 1.Neuropsychopharmacology Research Unit, Department of PsychiatryNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

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