How many older adults present, after retirement, for the first time with schizophrenia? Almost none. How many older adults present, in later life, with mood swings which are so significant that they need long term management with interventions which include a mood stabiliser? I don't know. But there aren't that many folk presenting in later life with major mood swings for the first time.
Why's this in my thoughts? It's because a number of folk, who have had significant mood swings (by which I mean, they've literally tried to kill folk, being consumed with rage or jealousy and felt righteous in their actions) have been referred to my door. And, to a one, all of them have asked for lithium.
Has there been a campaign about it? Is there new good press about it, somewhere? Has some celebrity trash mag carped on 'bout how it cured someone of mood changes? Enquiring minds need to know!
My patients had mood problems arising mostly from stroke damage within their limbic system and/or frontal lobes so they'd lost the bits to experience, regulate and control mood as effectively as they used to. In one patient lithium's had major benefit, resulting in a move from a very restrictive care setting back in to mainstream care services. In two others it's improved interactions and quality of life appreciably (that is, other than through speech, there's no expressed hostility) with both patients and their families feeling it's been transformational.
I'm not really sure why lithium should be so miraculous, especially when the problem's mostly structural brain change rather than purely chemical pathology (to which chemical solutions, like lithium, can be brilliant).
Still, they're better. That's good. It just puzzles me why they sought out lithium, why they were right to do so and why it's been so curiously helpful!