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Managing the risk of lithium-induced nephropathy in the long-term treatment of patients with recurrent affective disorders

Emanuel Severus* and Michael Bauer

Author Affiliations

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Fetscherstr. 74, D-01307 Dresden, Germany

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BMC Medicine 2013, 11:34  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-34

Published: 11 February 2013


Lithium has been the most effective psychopharmacological drug in the long-term treatment of patients with recurrent unipolar and bipolar affective illness. As a result of its widespread and longtime use in patients with recurrent affective disorders, psychiatrists have become increasingly aware of the whole spectrum of lithium's potential side effects. One of the side effects associated with its chronic use is lithium-induced nephropathy. In a recent cross-sectional study published in BMC Medicine, Alberto Bocchetta et al. add further information to this topic, demonstrating that duration of lithium treatment is associated with impaired glomerular function in patients with recurrent or chronic affective disorders. The present paper will discuss the implications of this and other related recent research on our management of patients with recurrent affective disorders. In this context the importance of shared decision making and close monitoring of kidney function is highlighted, including the regular assessment of the glomerular filtration rate, to provide best possible care to our patients maintained on lithium treatment.

See related research article here webcite

lithium; affective disorders; chronic kidney disease; shared decision making.