How does lithium reduce suicidal ideation?


How does lithium reduce suicidal ideation?

In: 49

We don’t know. We *do* know that lithium salts affect several different systems in the nerve cells of the brain. There are [several different hypotheses]( for why this might help with bipolar, major depression, and other disorders.


Good question, but we don’t really know. The problem is we can take a lot of guesses and we know form experience the types of changes it can have on people. The thing about that is we know what types of changes it can bring but we don’t know why, because we can’t really know why. That would require us to take active living brain cells and investigate… suffice to say this isn’t REALLY possible. There’s no way we’re going to be able to introduce the various lithium compounds to these cells and watch them with current technology while they’re still attached to everything else. That’s the real problem, they stop acting ‘normal’ when they’re disconnected in a way we could slap them on a slide or the like.

Come back in a few decades, maybe you’ll get a satisfying answer. We know it works, but we don’t know why it works is the best I can do and I won’t flood this ELI5 with the tons of possible reasons it works that people have been studying.

We really don’t know exactly how a lot of psych meds work. We didn’t create them to treat disease but rather found that the ingredients had certain effects and applied those effects to treating illness. We really don’t know

So your cells exchange sodium and potassium ions as the basis of communication for what the cell should be doing. Lithium ions are right there next to sodium and potassium on the periodic table because it has a similar electron count and physical size. Your cells don’t do anything with lithium can’t tell it from sodium and potassium. It’s basically like a blank communication. This slows the overactive communication that is going on in the brain. This isn’t well understood but it’s how my doc tries to describe what’s going on.