Debunking an old myth: Efficacy of Lithium treatment ist not diminished after disconinuation and reinitiation


Altrecht Institute for Mental Health Care, Utrecht.

Bipolar Disord. 2013 Aug 5. doi: 10.1111/bdi.12105. [Epub ahead of print]

The effectiveness of restarted lithium treatment after discontinuation: reviewing the evidence for discontinuation-induced refractoriness.


A recent Meta-Analysis found no convincing evidence for reduced efficacy of ltihium treatment in patients who had discontinued lithium medication and were then reinitiated with the same therapy compared to those who had contninously taken lithium.

This finding contradicts an old psychiatric “myth”  which suggested that “lithium does not work/ does not work as well in patients who have before discontinued the treatment.



We sought to determine whether the risk of relapse in patients with bipolar disorder is higher after discontinuation and restart of lithium treatment as compared to continuous lithium treatment in these same full film Beauty and the Beast online


We conducted literature searches in the Pubmed, Embase, Cochrane, and PsycINFO databases with cross-reference checks. Relevant data were extracted and pooled for meta-analysis.


Five relevant studies were included for review, of which three studies qualified for the meta-analysis and included a total of 212 analyzed cases. Two studies found lithium to be less effective after discontinuation and reintroduction and three studies found no decreased effectiveness. The pooled odds ratio for the occurrence of one or more relapses after interruption of lithium treatment compared to continuous treatment was 1.40 (95% confidence interval: 0.85-2.31; p = 0.19).


Although studies are scarce, review and meta-analysis of the available literature does not provide convincing evidence that lithium is less effective when treatment is discontinued and restarted, compared to uninterrupted treatment.

© 2013 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.