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Bipolar disorder is associated with impaired decision-making. Little is known about how treatment, especially lithium, influences decision-making abilities in bipolar patients when euthymic. We aimed at testing for an association between lithium medication and decision-making performance in remitted bipolar patients. Decision-making was measured using the Iowa Gambling Task in 3 groups of subjects: 34 and 56 euthymic outpatients with bipolar disorder, treated with lithium (monotherapy and lithium combined with anticonvulsant or antipsychotic) and without lithium (anticonvulsant, antipsychotic and combination treatment), respectively, and 152 matched healthy controls. Performance was compared between the 3 groups. In the 90 euthymic patients, the relationship between different sociodemographic and clinical variables and decision-making was assessed by stepwise multivariate regression analysis. Euthymic patients with lithium (p=0.007) and healthy controls (p=0.001) selected significantly more cards from the safe decks than euthymic patients without lithium, with no significant difference between euthymic patients with lithium and healthy controls (p=0.9). In the 90 euthymic patients, the stepwise linear multivariate regression revealed that decision-making was significantly predicted (p<0.001) by lithium dose, level of education and no family history of bipolar disorder (all p≤0.01). Because medication was not randomized, it was not possible to discriminate the effect of different medications. Lithium medication might be associated with better decision-making in remitted bipolar patients. A randomized trial is required to test for the hypothesis that lithium, but not other mood stabilizers, may specifically improve decision-making abilities in bipolar disorder.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur Neuropsychopharmacol

Publication Date





788 - 797


Bipolar disorder, Decision-making, Euthymia, Lithium, Neurocognition, Adolescent, Adult, Analysis of Variance, Antidepressive Agents, Antimanic Agents, Bipolar Disorder, Decision Making, Female, Humans, Lithium Compounds, Logistic Models, Male, Middle Aged, Neuropsychological Tests, Outpatients, Punishment, Young Adult