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Lighten up with Lithium?
By Bowser
20, Dec 2001 - 13:20

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Lithium is used to treat manic depression or bipolar disorder. It works, but nobody really knows exactly why. In fact this seems to be the case for most psychotropic drugs - we only have a vague notion of how or why they work. The whole debate about use of drugs for treating mental disorders is a particularly hot issue lately.
Pills Pills Pills
While 'mental' hospitals have emptied out largely because of the effectiveness of psychoactive drugs, many hold the view that we should be treating the causes of such problems rather than simply treating the symptoms. You can walk through GMIT, however, Castlebar's modern third level institution and still see the preserved doors of what were once padded cells (now used as offices with padding removed!). The old wooden doors with their round glass viewing ports are kept as a reminder of times gone by a time when patients were routinely handcuffed in many psychiatric institutions. Those who would have been locked up there to stop them harming themselves or others are now perhaps able to live a relatively normal life outside of an institution because of such drugs. Those of us who are old enough to remember Ken Kesey's "One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest" will empathise. The current rate of psychiatric admissions is about 24,000 per annum in Ireland - only a fraction of the admission rate in the 1960s because of drugs such as lithium carbonate. About one in ten admissions is involuntary, however, which is much higher than most other European countries, so maybe there is still an element of lock 'em up and forget about them. New legislation due shortly will hopefully bring an end to this unsavoury aspect of Irish life.
Altered states

The raging debate in the USA at present is "Running on Ritalin" - 3 million school kids are being given this drug routinely to combat the effects of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A child that would once have been called 'lazy' or 'bold' is now suffering from ADHD/ADD and there's a medicine to sort it. School nurses dispense Ritalin on a daily basis to American children. In Ireland we still have a long way to go in the pharmacological stakes but, like or 'progress' in the litigation and economic growth stakes, we may quickly catch up with the USA and perhaps even pass them out?
Lithium Ion Rechargeable Batteries in Daily Use

Coming soon - is
beryllium as boring as boron?

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Funny He He! - but this is no Laughing Gas!

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