Lithium Augmentation Beneficial in Treatment-Resistant Depression

Researchers found data that lithium augmentation was effective in treatment-resistant depression in a cohort of patients who were geriatric.

Lithium augmentation could be a potential treatment option for older patients with treatment-resistant depression, according to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Researchers of this prospective, multicenter cohort study evaluated the efficacy of lithium augmentation in patients with unipolar depression with insufficient response to current antidepressant pharmacotherapy. This study included separate cohorts with patients aged ≥65 years and another with patients aged <65 years. All participants received tailored doses of lithium carbonate based on individual lithium serum levels and completed the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale questionnaire and the Charlson Comorbidity Score at baseline and again over the course of the 4-week follow-up.

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Of the 167 patients included in this study, 22 were in the aged ≥65 years cohort and 145 were in the aged <65 years cohort. The aged ≥65 years cohort had a better response to the lithium augmentation treatment (hazard ratio [HR] 1.91; 95% CI, 1.02-3.55; P =.04) when compared with the aged <65 years cohort.

Limitations of this study include not incorporating a control cohort and not analyzing tolerability, safety, cognition or physical function of the patients.

The researchers of the study concluded, “that [lithium augmentation] is an effective treatment option in [patients aged ≥65 years] that clinicians might consider more frequently and earlier on in the course of treatment.”


Buspavanich P, Behr J, Stamm T, et al. Treatment response of lithium augmentation in geriatric compared to non-geriatric patients with treatment-resistant depressionJ Affect Disord. 2019;251:136-140.