May 6, 2023

Lithium Discontinuation Protocol: A Step-by-Step Guide

Lithium Discontinuation Protocol: A Step-by-Step Guide

Lithium is a mood stabilizer medication commonly prescribed for bipolar disorder. Although it is an effective treatment for this condition, there may be reasons why it needs to be discontinued. The process of discontinuation must be carefully managed to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms. Here is a step-by-step guide to the lithium discontinuation protocol:

Step 1: Consult with your doctor

Before discontinuing any medication, it is important to discuss your reasons for wanting to do so with your doctor. They can advise you on the risks and benefits of discontinuing your treatment and support you through the process.

Step 2: Gradual reduction

Discontinuing lithium requires a gradual reduction in dosage. Suddenly stopping lithium can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, including agitation, anxiety, depression, and even mania. Your doctor will likely recommend reducing your dosage by 10-20% every 7-14 days.

Step 3: Monitor your symptoms

As you reduce your lithium dosage, it is essential to monitor your symptoms. Your doctor will want to know if you experience any withdrawal symptoms or if your mood changes. Keeping a mood diary can be helpful to track any changes or issues throughout the process.

Step 4: Consider alternative medications

If you are discontinuing lithium for a specific reason, your doctor may recommend switching to an alternative medication. There are several other mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications that can be used to treat bipolar disorder.

Step 5: Follow up with your doctor

Your doctor may want to see you more frequently during the discontinuation process to monitor your symptoms. Once you have stopped taking lithium completely, they may continue to check in with you to ensure you remain stable.


What are the common side effects of discontinuing lithium?

Common withdrawal symptoms can include agitation, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and even mania in some instances.

Can I stop taking lithium suddenly?

No, it is essential to gradually reduce your dosage over several weeks to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms.

Will I experience mood changes during the discontinuation process?

It is possible to experience mood changes throughout the discontinuation process. However, your doctor can support you through this, and alternative medications may be recommended if necessary.

Can lithium be restarted after discontinuation?

Yes, it is possible to restart lithium after discontinuation. However, speak with your doctor before doing so as they can advise you on the risks and benefits.

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