Recently, several epidemiologic studies have reported that lithium in drinking water may be associated with lower rates of suicide mortality, lower incidence of dementia, and lower levels of adolescents' depression and aggression at the population level. However, to our knowledge, no study has investigated lithium level in tap water in relation to psychotic experiences in a general population of adolescents. This is the first study to investigate this using a large dataset. Information on psychotic experiences, distress associated with these experiences, and depressive symptoms were collected in 24 public junior high schools in Kochi Prefecture in Japan. Samples were collected from sources that supplied drinking water to schools, and lithium levels were measured using atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The association of lithium levels with psychotic experiences, considering distress as a degree of severity, was examined using an ordinal logistic regression model with schools and depressive symptoms as random effects. In total, 3040 students responded to the self-reporting questionnaire (response rate: 91.8%). Lithium levels in tap water were inversely associated with psychotic experiences (p = 0.021). We concluded that lithium level in tap water was inversely associated with psychotic experiences among a general population of adolescents and may have a preventive effect for such experiences and distress.
Keywords: Adolescent; Distress; Drinking water; Lithium; Psychotic experience.
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