Britney Spears: What is lithium, the drug she claims she was put on?

·2-min read
Britney Spears: What is lithium, the drug she claims she was put on?
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Britney Spears appeared in court in Los Angeles on 23 June to contest the 13-year conservatorship she has been placed under.

In a 24-minute long statement, the 39-year-old told the court: “I’ve been in shock. I am traumatised.”

Spears was placed under a court-ordered conservatorship in 2008 after battling mental health issues, which gave her father Jamie control of her financial affairs, career and aspects of her personal life.

As part of this, Spears claimed she was forced to do tours, was unable to remove an IUD stopping her from being able to conceive a baby and was put on to medication she did not want to be in.

During her conservatorship, Spears claims she was placed on lithium by a therapist after she said no to performing a show in Las Vegas.

Spears said: “He immediately, the next day, put me on lithium out of nowhere. He took me off my normal meds I’ve been on for five years.

“And lithium is a very, very strong and completely different medication compared to what I was used to.”

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Spears said she felt “drunk” and that she “never wanted to be on” the medication. It is unclear how long the singer was placed in the medication or whether she is still on it.

At the end of the court case, the attorney for her father Jamie Spears read a statement on his behalf, saying: “Mr Spears is sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain. Mr Spears loves his daughter and misses her very much.”

What is lithium and what effect does it have?

What is lithium used for?

Lithium is a type of medication that is used as a mood stabiliser, according to the NHS.

It is used in the treatment of disorders such as mania, depression and bipolar. The medication can also be used to prevent self-harming or aggressive behaviours.

Before being prescribed, a person must have their kidney and thyroid function checked, as well as a blood test.

The NHS says it comes in both tablet and liquid form, and in the UK it is available on prescription.

What is the effect?

According to the NHS, some people find lithium slows down their thinking and makes them feel “numb”.

In her court statement, Spears claimed being placed on lithium made her feel inebriated, saying: “I really couldn’t even take [stand] up for myself. I couldn’t even have a conversation with my mom or dad really about anything.”

But, if you’re on the right dose and your blood levels of lithium are correct, the NHS says people may not experience any issues.

Other common side effects can include nausea, diarrhoea, metallic taste in the mouth, slight tremor, feeling thirsty and needing to urinate more frequently, tiredness and weight gain.

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