View Full Version : Symptoms of Lithium Overdose

09-11-2013, 11:21 PM
First off, hello everyone and thanks in advance for any and all answers :D

I am currently writing an outline for a planned fan-film based on all three Amnesia games (The Dark Descent; Justine; A Machine for Pigs) and have arrived at the point when Justine's storyline is incorporated in the overall plot. Early on, I've run across a rather puzzling problem that, try as I might, I can't seem to ignore.

In the video game itself, Justine deliberately took a high dosage of lithium in order to induce temporary amnesia -- an amnesia which in this case slowly recovered towards the end until she finally remembered all.

Several people have mentioned that a lithium-induced temporary amnesia is not 100% feasible, but is similar to actual symptoms of lithium toxicity.

Therefore I have the following question: Can an overdose of lithium lead to temporary or even permanent memory loss?

I have made some research of myself on several reputable medical sites (such as MHRA and Medline Plus), but have come across seemingly conflicting and definitely confusing information: one site says that moderate-to-severe (or acute on chronic) lithium toxicity could end in an altered mental state or coma; while another site claims that it could result in increasing confusion (which is what I'm experiencing right now, although definitely not due to lithium consumption), blackouts, stupor and seizures; and yet another site says that it could lead to increased reflexes, slurred speech, psychosis and memory problems.

I am quite certain that regardless of the severity of the overdose, hallucinations will not occur (since lithium is usually consumed to combat the hallucinations that Bipolar patients tend to have during episodes) -- although the symptoms "psychosis" and "altered mind state" seem to contradict this point and indicate that lithium, despite being an antipsychotic, could actually in high doses make you psycho-crazy-bonkers.

However, if psychosis, blackouts, altered mind state and memory problems are all similar symptoms to amnesia, then all the listed symptoms are corroborated and my mind is slightly less addled.

Rachel Udin
09-11-2013, 11:45 PM

says that it does not cause Amnesia.

BTW, Amnesia is most likely caused by severe brain injury or psychologically stressful events. (I mean pretty severe)

The worst Lithium can do is :https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focal_neurologic_signs#Cerebellar_signs

But by then, you're either in a coma or dead, considering the other symptoms.

That does not cause problems with the frontal cortex where the majority of our memories are stored.

If you want psychosis, black outs, altered state of mind and memory problems, you're probably looking at PTSD.

BTW, nerd, Google searcher, but not expert.

09-11-2013, 11:48 PM
Lithium makes a person horribly sick and can cause various tremors and seizures.

I suppose one could argue the memory lose was actually psychogenic and the lithium overdose contributed to the stress?

09-12-2013, 11:17 PM
Thanks for both answers!

I suppose one could argue the memory lose was actually psychogenic and the lithium overdose contributed to the stress?

That is actually quite a good idea, though I'm probably going to cut the lithium-part out completely. In a world full of magical orbs, shadow stalkers, Aztec curses, otherworldly noblemen and functioning alchemy, it won't seem out of place if I switch lithium with a "magical elixir", especially when another character (Daniel) has already used one in order to induce amnesia.

09-14-2013, 12:53 PM
Congrats, your post is #1 in Google for "lithium overdose amnesia," which should tell you something...

Amnesia as a lithium side effect is not mentioned in drugs.com (http://www.drugs.com/sfx/lithium-side-effects.html) and emedicine.medscape.com (http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/815523-clinical#showall)

But it is mentioned in
- diagnosispro.com (http://en.diagnosispro.com/disease_comparison-for/lithium-toxicity-overdose-versus-psychogenic-amnesia/16050-18695.html)
- a pubmed.gov article from 1987 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3127739)

You may get an answer from a neurologist, if you ask on one of those q.a. sites, like justanswer.com.