[The effect of lithium on thyroid function in patients with bipolar disorder]

Psychiatr Pol. 2014 May-Jun;48(3):417-28.
[Article in Polish]


Since 1963 lithium treatment has been the best proven long-term pharmacotherapy for bipolar disorder (BD), both in the prevention of depressive and manic episodes, along with the reduction of the suicide risk. Thyroid gland and the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis play a role in the pathophysiology, clinical course and treatment of BD. The influence of lithium on the thyroid gland is one of the key side effects in the long-term therapy with this drug. Lithium is accumulated in the thyroid gland at 3 to 4-fold higher concentrations as compared to its plasma levels. Its administration results in the reduced production with release inhibition of thyroid hormones, altering the immune processes of this gland. The most common thyroid side effects associated with long-term lithium treatment are goiter and hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is a rare complication of lithium therapy. Lithium may also induce an increase in the thyroid autoimmunity, especially if such change had been present before lithium treatment producing structural changes in this gland. This paper reviews the management of complications described above as well as recommendations for monitoring of thyroid function in patients receiving long-term lithium treatment are discussed.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Goiter / chemically induced*
  • Goiter / diagnosis
  • Goiter / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / drug effects
  • Hypothyroidism / chemically induced*
  • Hypothyroidism / diagnosis
  • Hypothyroidism / prevention & control
  • Lithium Compounds / adverse effects*
  • Lithium Compounds / therapeutic use
  • Thyroid Gland / drug effects*


  • Lithium Compounds