Generic name: Lithium carbonate.

Other brand names: Cibalith-S (lithium citrate), Eskalith Capsules, Eskalith-CR, Lithane, Lithobid, Lithotabs.

Lithium is an antimanic and antipsychotic. It calms certain parts of the brain while allowing the rest of the brain to function properly. 

Quick Facts About Lithonate


Used to treat the manic episodes of manic depression, including: aggressiveness, elation, fast or urgent talking, frenetic physical activity, grandiose or unrealistic ideas, hostility, little need for sleep, poor judgment. Continued at lower dosage to prevent or reduce intensity of future manic episodes. Also used to treat premenstrual tension, eating disorders such as bulimia, certain movement disorders, and sexual addictions.

Lithonate Dosage

Take after meals or with food or milk to avoid stomach irritation. Drink 10 to 12 glasses of water or fluid per day, eat a balanced diet which includes some salt. If taking Cibalith-S, dilute with fruit juice or other flavored beverages; use measuring spoon provided by pharmacist. Long-acting forms should be swallowed whole; do not chew, crush, or break. Do not change brands unless directed by your doctor.

  • Usual adult dose: for acute episodes — total of 1,800 milligrams per day. Immediate-release forms taken in 3 or 4 doses; long-acting forms taken in 2 doses per day. Syrup dose — 2 teaspoons taken 3 times per day. Doctor will monitor blood levels when Lithonate is first prescribed and then regularly thereafter. For long-term control — total of between 900 to 1,200 milligrams per day. Immediate-release forms taken in 3 or 4 doses per day; long-acting forms taken in 2 doses per day. Syrup dose — 1 teaspoon taken 3 or 4 times per day. Blood levels should be checked every 2 months. Seniors — usually prescribed lower doses.
  • Usual child dose: not prescribed for children under 12 years.
  • Missed dose: take as soon as possible, unless within 2 hours of next dose (6 hours for controlled-release). In that case, do not take missed dose; go back to regular schedule. Do not double doses.

Lithonate Side Effects

Overdose symptoms:

diarrhea, drowsiness, lack of coordination, vomiting, weakness. Stop taking medication if you observe any of these symptoms —  harmful levels and treatment levels are close. If you suspect an overdose, immediately seek medical attention.

More common side effects: blackout spells, blurred vision, coma, confusion, dehydration, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, drying, thinning hair, dry mouth, dry skin, fatigue, general discomfort, giddiness, goiter (enlarged thyroid gland), grimace, hair loss, headache, inability to hold urine or feces, involuntary eyeball movement, irregular heartbeat, itching, jerky movements, lack of coordination, lack of sensation in skin, large amounts of urine, lethargy, little or no urine, loss of appetite, low blood pressure, metallic taste, mild thirst, nausea, restlessness, ringing in ears, seizures, skin ulcers, sleepiness, slight hand tremor, slow reactions, slurred speech, stupor, swollen ankles or wrists, temporary blind spot in eye, tendency to sleep, tremor, twitching, vertigo, vomiting, weakness, weight gain, weight loss, worsening of psoriasis.

No known less common or rare Lithonate side effects.


Inform your doctor before combining Lithonate with:

ACE inhibitors such as Capoten and Vasotec; acetazolamide (Diamox); amphetamines such as Dexedrine; anti-inflammatory medications such as Indocin and Feldene; bicarbonate of soda; caffeine (No-Doz); calcium blockers such as Calan and Cardizem; carbamazepine (Tegretol); diuretics such as Lasix or HydroDIURIL; fluoxetine (Prozac); iodine-containing preparations such as potassium iodine (Quadrinal); major tranquilizers such as Haldol and Thorazine; methyldopa (Aldomet); metronidazole (Flagyl); tetracyclines such as Achromycin V; theophylline (Theo-Dur or Quibron). Lithonate can intensify certain anesthesia medications; inform your surgeon and anesthesiologist that you are taking Lithonate before surgery.

No known food/other substance interactions. 

Special Cautions

If pregnant or planning to become pregnant, inform your doctor immediately. May cause birth defects; not recommended for use during pregnancy. Does appear in breast milk and can harm a nursing infant.

Seniors are usually prescribed lower doses.

Not prescribed for children under 12 years.

  • Do not take if sensitive to or allergic to Lithonate.
  • May cause drowsiness and impair your ability to drive a car or operate machinery. Do not take part in any activity that requires alertness.
  • Use extra care if you are in hot weather, and avoid activities that cause you to sweat profusely. Avoid drinking large amounts of coffee, tea, or cola, which can promote dehydration through increased urination. Do not change eating habits dramatically or go on a weight loss diet without consulting your doctor; loss of water and salt may lead to lithium poisoning.
  • To establish appropriate dosage level, doctor will do frequent blood tests. Too low a dosage has no effect; too high a dosage can cause poisoning. Ongoing monitoring of any new symptoms should be immediately reported to your doctor.
  • Doctor may reduce or temporarily discontinue Lithonate if you develop an infection with a fever.
  • Use with extra caution if you have heart or kidney disease, are weak, run-down, or dehydrated.
  • Inform your doctor if you have: diabetes, epilepsy, thyroid problems, Parkinson’s disease, or difficulty urinating.

Note: provides accurate and independent information prescription pills, over-the-counter medicines and natural products. This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have questions about  dosage, or Lithonate side effects, please contact your healthcare provider.