Why did Britney Spears Take Lithium? What Side Effects Did She Experience?

Britney Spears finally spoke out in court against her conservatorship and her father, Jamie Spears, who allegedly forced her to take Lithium against her wishes. The 39-year-old told probate court, Judge Penny, that the conservatorship team punished her for refusing to do another Las Vegas residency. The pop icon also detailed the side effects she experienced while taking Lithium.

Why did Britney Spears take Lithium?

In probate court on June 23, Britney Spears told Judge Penny that her conservatorship team changed her medication to Lithium for no reason. The pop icon believed her doctor changed her prescription because she refused to perform in another Las Vegas show.

“Three days later, after I said no to Vegas, my therapist sat me down in a room,” Spears recalled. “[Dr. Benson] said he had a million phone calls about how I was not cooperating in rehearsals, and I haven’t been taking my medication. All this was false. He immediately, the next day, put me on Lithium out of nowhere.”

Then Britney Spears explained how awful she felt while taking Lithium.

“He took me off my normal meds I’ve been on for five years,” she continued. “And Lithium is a very, very strong and completely different medication compared to what I was used to. You can go mentally impaired if you take too much if you stay on it longer than five months. But he put me on that, and I felt drunk. I couldn’t even have a conversation with my mom or dad really about anything.”

What is Lithium used for?

According to the Mayo Clinic, Lithium is for treating a bipolar disorder or a manic-depressive illness. In Spears’ 2013 documentary, I am Britney Jean, she opened up about her bipolar disorder. However, Britney Spears told the court on June 23 that she never took lithium, and she was happy with her current medication regimen.

“It is also used on a daily basis to reduce the frequency and severity of manic episodes,” the Mayo Clinic website explained. “Manic-depressive patients experience severe mood changes, ranging from an excited or manic state (e.g., unusual anger or irritability or a false sense of well-being) to depression or sadness. It is not known how Lithium works to stabilize a person’s mood. However, it does act on the central nervous system.” 

What happened to Britney because of Lithium? What are the side effects of Lithium?

As with all medications, Britney Spears knew there might be side effects of Lithium. She told the court that she was happy with her current prescriptions, and the pop star didn’t want to switch medications. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, some common side effects of Lithium include headaches, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness or drowsiness, changes in appetite, and hand tremors. The list also includes dry mouth, increased thirst or urination, thinning hair or hair loss, and an acne-like rash.

Long-term Lithium use might cause hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroid hormone). The alliance also reported that rare kidney problems might happen with prolonged use of the drug.

The rare but severe side effect listed that Britney Spears believed she had was confusion and unsteadiness. She described feeling “drunk.” 

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